UNC switches to remote learning after cluster of COVID-19 during first week of classes

University of North Carolina. [UNC photo]

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is shifting all undergraduate instruction to remote learning beginning Wednesday after a cluster of COVID-19 infections.

The university will also continue efforts to “greatly reduce residence hall occupancy,” the school said in a statement.

“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, but 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,” wrote Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Robert A. Blouin in a Monday campus email announcing the changes.

Campus Health Services reported a significant rise in positive COVID-19 tests from Aug. 10-16. As of Monday, 177 students are in isolation and 349 are in quarantine, both on and off campus.

To mitigate continued community spread within residence halls and contain the virus, the university is working with the UNC System office to identify the most effective way to decrease residential density on campus. Students will have the opportunity to cancel housing requests with no penalty. Residents who have hardships, such as lack of access to reliable internet access, international students or student-athletes will have the option to remain on campus.

The university’s research enterprise will remain unchanged. Courses in the graduate, professional and health affairs schools will continue to be taught as they are or as directed by the schools. Academic advising and academic support services will be available online.

“We understand that these trends aren’t just affecting our campus: They have escalated the concerns of our neighbors, co-workers and friends in and around the Chapel Hill and Carrboro communities,” the campus email said. “The health and well-being of the good people of our greater Carolina community are just as important to us as that of our students, faculty and staff.”

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.