After a hurricane rolls through, the damage is pretty obvious. Trees get knocked down. Roads are washed out. Homes and buildings and cars are smashed or flooded or both.
At UNC-Wilmington — the UNC System school hit hardest last month by Hurricane Florence — there was plenty of noticeable damage that kept campus closed for the bulk of September. On Tuesday, the university got the official go-ahead to deal with something a little less obvious but no less severe: the damage to its semester.
UNCW on Tuesday laid out its plan for the fall semester to the UNC Board of Governors. The university will cancel fall break and Reading Day, which is day between the end of classes and the start of finals. UNCW will add five minutes to each class. And it will require professors to give online and out-of-class assignments and maybe hold a few classes on weekends.
UNCW students will have been out of school four weeks by the time classes resume Monday, and these changes will make up about two-thirds of the lost time. The BOG granted the university a waiver to forgive the rest.
It was probably tempting for UNCW to give up on its washed-out semester. It has been a difficult month down there and who can blame them? But the university didn't have that option. For one, students (and their families) had paid for the class time. Here's the other reason, via the N&O:
Even with all the changes, students won’t be able to make up all the time, which required the action from the UNC system board. The waiver was needed to comply with policies of UNC, the U.S. Department of Education and the university’s accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The federal government has regulations about class time for financial aid eligibility.
In other words, UNCW had survived Hurricane Florence, but there was no defying its governing board, its accrediting body and the the federal agency that supplies financial aid.
UNCW's plan for making up missed class time is here if you want to dig into it. And here's a longer FAQ for UNCW students and employees that clearly shows that hurricane clean-up goes far beyond than drying out a few wet buildings and cutting up all those fallen trees.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education announced Tuesday that it will give some financial help to students at UNCW and other colleges and universities in eastern N.C. UNC System President Margaret Spellings said these grants "are greatly needed and will go a long way in assisting students that can least afford to bear the devastating costs caused by Hurricane Florence."