JUST IN: University of North Carolina Goes Online After Covid Cases Spike One Week Into Classes

Virtual Learning

Photo credit: Robyn Beck, AFP via Getty Images

Just one week into in-person classes, the University of North Carolina abruptly reversed course and announced it would be switching to all-online learning for undergraduate courses after a spike of Covid-19 cases on campus.

According to a school announcement on Monday, UNC Campus Health Services reported 177 were in isolation and nearly double that number, 349, were in quarantine. The alarming outbreak triggered the school’s leadership to switch to its contingency plan of all remote learning.

“Since launching the Roadmap for Fall 2020, we have emphasized that if we were faced with the need to change plans — take an off-ramp — we would not hesitate to do so,” UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Robert Blouin said in a campus message. “We have not taken this decision lightly. We have made it in consultation with state and local health officials, Carolina’s infectious disease experts and the UNC System.”

The number of coronavirus cases in the state peaked one month ago, but the seven-day average of virus deaths remains near its peak. Earlier on Monday, the school’s campus newspaper published a stinging indictment of the school’s chaotic re-opening, entitled “We All Saw This Coming.” The rapid reversal comes one week after a Georgia high school, where pictures of crowded hallways on the first day of school quickly went viral, abruptly switched to virtual learning after its saw an immediate outbreak after re-opening.

“As much as we believe we have worked diligently to help create a healthy and safe campus living and learning environment, we believe the current data presents an untenable situation,” Guskiewicz and Blouin added. “As we have always said, the health and safety of our campus community is paramount, and we will continue to modify and adapt our plan when necessary.”

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