N.C. State to shift undergrads to online-only classes starting Monday

Memorial Tower at N.C. State University. [NCSU.edu]

Just one day after UNC-Chapel Hill shifted undergraduates to online-only classes, N.C. State University announced it will do the same starting on Monday due to surges of COVID-19 cases in both on and off campus housing.

N.C. State Chancellor Randy Woodson said Thursday that on-campus housing will not be closed, so students can still reside in their dorms, for now.

Those who return home will be able to cancel their on-campus housing contracts without penalty, and get prorated reimbursements for meals and housing.

Graduate courses and clinical education will be allowed to meet in person or in a hybrid format, and research laboratories will remain open and fully operational.

The decision comes after clusters of coronavirus cases have been identified in seven fraternity and sorority houses and an off-campus housing complex in Raleigh.

At least one large party off-campus recently is being blamed on the surge in cases at N.C. State.

More from Chancellor Woodson:

Dear NC State Community,

I write to you this afternoon with important yet disappointing updates. Please take a few minutes to read this message in its entirety.

First, I want to sincerely thank our staff and faculty who have worked tirelessly over the past many weeks to prepare our campus to be an effective, and safe, learning and living environment during this extraordinary time. As a result, we are continuing to provide students an excellent education; advancing our research operations safely and effectively; and limiting the spread of the virus in residential housing. In addition, our employees working remotely and here on campus are being tremendously productive.

I also want to sincerely offer my thanks to the majority of our students who have taken personal responsibility for helping to protect the Pack and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Thank you for doing your part and making our community standards the norm on campus.

We have also recently witnessed the negative impacts caused by those who did not take personal responsibility. We’ve had reports of large parties in off-campus apartments. In the last two days alone, we’ve identified three COVID-19 clusters in off-campus and Greek Village houses that can be traced to parties and behavior outside of our community standards and the governor’s mandates. We’re seeing significant infections in Greek life, and at this time there have been another seven Greek houses that have been quarantined due to a number of additional positive cases.

Battling the spread of COVID-19 is a challenging endeavor even when everyone is practicing safety measures. Unfortunately, the actions of a few are jeopardizing the health and safety of the larger community.

This week we’ve seen a rapidly increasing trend in COVID-19 infections in the NC State community, including the clusters mentioned above. As of today, through our aggressive contact tracing program we have more than 500 students in quarantine and isolation, mostly off campus, who have either tested positive or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. We are also investigating other potential off-campus clusters.

To best protect the health and safety of the entire campus community, we are making difficult decisions and implementing the following changes to campus operations.

Undergraduate In Person Courses Moving Online Beginning Aug. 24

All undergraduate courses will move to online instruction beginning Monday, Aug. 24. The majority of NC State’s course hours are already online, but the remaining in-person and hybrid classes will move to online-only instruction for the remainder of the fall semester.

Graduate courses and clinical education may continue to meet in-person or in a hybrid format. NC State’s research laboratories will remain open and fully operational, and research opportunities for students will continue.

Residential Housing, Campus Facilities and Services

We understand how important it is for many of our students, and their families, to have the benefits of an on-campus experience, even at this time of reduced operations. For our residential students who want to continue living on campus and receiving the support it provides, you are welcome to stay – we are not closing on-campus housing.

With oversight from dedicated staff and Resident Advisors, and the continued outstanding cooperation from student residents, we are confident that the spread of the virus can be limited. We’ll continue proactively monitoring the virus with the hope of keeping on-campus housing open throughout the semester. Of course, we’ll change direction if needed in order to protect our students and staff.

We also understand that some students who decided to live in residence halls on campus this semester may not be interested in staying if all their courses are all online. Others are concerned about remaining in residence housing given the spread of COVID-19 in the broader community. If you choose to move home, you can cancel your University Housing contract with no penalty, and you will be reimbursed the prorated amount for housing and dining based on the number of days you lived on campus. More information from University Housing and University Dining is forthcoming.

We believe these options best support our students, and will reduce density in campus housing for those who choose to say. Students, we want to provide you flexibility to make the best choice for you, your family, and your unique situation. Either way, you are part of our Pack and we are here to support you.

Additional information will follow, but it is our intention to keep campus facilities such as NC State Libraries, Talley Student Union and Dining open to support the campus community. Student Health Services and the Counseling Center will continue to provide services. Check websites for specific hours and operational information. Measures such as required face coverings and physical distancing will continue everywhere on campus.

To our amazing front-line staff who remain dedicated to supporting NC State’s service mission in residence halls, dining facilities, health and counseling, and the many other campus services – a tremendous thank you. The university community is grateful for your ongoing commitment, and please know we will continue doing all we can to protect and support you as you carry on your critical work.

Moving Forward

To be clear, NC State will remain open; it will just look different next week than it does today. We understand that these changes may be frustrating for some and a relief for others. Know that the top priority in every decision that we’ve made – and the ones we’ll make in the future – is to keep our community safe and well.

I encourage you to stay informed, and to continue checking the Protect the Pack site for the most up-to-date campus information.

As a community, we have learned so much over the past five months about innovative ways of teaching and learning, working remotely, conducting research even more safely, and being highly effective and efficient in a fluid environment. These lessons will continue to serve NC State well into the future.

We are not where we hoped to be today, but we’ll learn from this too, with the goal of returning fully and proudly to campus, as one Wolfpack, in the new year. In the meantime, keep learning, keep working, and together we’ll keep moving forward.

Be well. Go Pack.

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