UNC-Chapel Hill Pivots to Remote Learning 1 Week After Classes Start as Coronavirus Cases Soar

Within the past week, four separate “clusters” of COVID-19 cases, defined by the school as five or more cases in close proximity, were identified at UNC-Chapel Hill. Two clusters were reported in residence halls, another at a student apartment complex and one was linked with a fraternity.

“When we started planning for a return to campus, most people were optimistic that we would have flattened the curve and been in a far better place than we are today,” wrote Barbara K. Rimer, the school's dean of public health, in a separate statement. “After only one week of campus operations, with growing numbers of clusters and insufficient control over the off-campus behavior of students (and others), it is time for an off-ramp. We have tried to make this work, but it is not working.”

Ahead of the first day of classes, 30 tenured faculty members at UNC-Chapel Hill made a public plea, urging students to opt out of in-person learning.

"We need to stay safe from COVID-19 by staying at home — and we need you to stay home in order to protect yourselves and your fellow students, your teachers, the many workers who serve you on campus, the residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and your own family members and loved ones," they wrote in a letter published in the Charlotte Observer.

"It is not safe for you to come to campus — to live in dormitories and apartments, to sit in classrooms, and to socialize with your peers in the way that college students usually do," they cautioned. "The country's oldest public university must not repeat the tragic errors of this summer by reopening too quickly and completely."

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