Update: UNC Chapel Hill has announced that their classes will all go virtual starting this Wednesday. I wonder if it will take a week and a half for the other schools that opened in person. (Thanks Karen for the tip!)
Many parents dropped their children off at college this weekend. I’m thinking of you and I can’t imagine how hard that must be at this time. UNC Chapel Hill has been one of the first colleges in the US to open in-person instruction this year, with classes starting last Monday, August 10th. So far there have been three different outbreaks that we’ve heard about, all in under a week. There have been outbreaks in two dorms and a fraternity.
Unsurprisingly, faculty are now calling for them to go to an online-only model. North Carolina Policy Watch has details from an internal memo that the faculty chair sent to their board, asking that the chancellor be allowed to end in-person classes. It sounds like they have so much bureaucracy, which is typical for higher education.
Dr. Mimi Chapman, chair of the UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, has appealed to the UNC Board of Governors to allow the school’s chancellor to choose whether to end in-person instruction and on-campus for the fall semester.
On-campus sources with direct knowledge of the numbers told Policy Watch Saturday the three clusters represent dozens of infections, with contact tracing seeking to determine wider exposure.
“In the last two days, within the first week of classes, already three clusters of students that are positive for the virus have been identified,” Chapman wrote in her letter. “Two in dormitories and now one at a fraternity house. These are likely the tip of the iceberg and we will see more in coming days.”
“We knew there would be positive cases on our campus,” Chapman wrote. “But clusters, five or more people that are connected in one place, are a different story. The presence of clusters should be triggering reconsideration of residential, in-person learning. However, moving to remote instruction cannot be done without your approval.”
As Policy Watch was first to report last month, UNC Board of Governors Chairman Randy Ramsey told chancellors at the 17 UNC System campuses they would not have the authority to make final decisions about ending on-campus instruction and residential living due to infections. Those decisions will be made by the board and UNC System President Peter Hans, Ramsey said.
There’s going to be a special meeting of the “Faculty Executive Committee” at UNC Chapel Hill today to discuss the covid cases. I doubt they have the power to make the decisions judging from this letter, but maybe they can put pressure on the Board of Governors. What’s more is that UNC staff and professor unions are calling for county health directors to order all the local UNC colleges to close, probably because they realize that people who run UNC are hell bent on continuing this health experiment. Plus the workers union is suing for unsafe working conditions!
I’m so glad I don’t work in a public school or university. I have a low tolerance for this type of red tape and all of these layers of decision-making are going to cost lives. Schools are definitely losing revenue by going online-only this fall, but it’s a necessity. So many schools have changed plans to either cancel or delay in-person instruction. The Chronicle of Higher education has a breakdown of over 3,000 universities’ plans for the fall that they update frequently. A full 20% are planning primarily in-person instruction, 15% have a hybrid model and 25% are still undecided. Hopefully those numbers will change now that we’ve seen what’s happening at just one university after one week. Surely there are countless more cases.
Three students have been kicked out of UNC campus housing for “failing to follow standards” for covid distancing. Oh and cops were called to at least SEVEN different loud parties last weekend in Chapel Hill.
These are photos from UNC’s official Instagram account. You can tell they’re really trying to enforce social distancing and make things safe for everyone.
At UNC Chapel Hill, classes began on Monday. 3 students have been kicked out of campus housing for "failing to follow standards". Chapel Hill police issued warnings to student-affiliated off-campus housing, including a party of ~50 people without masks. https://t.co/iAnM1WIigN
— Laura Williams (@MicroWavesSci) August 13, 2020