Nearly all UNC System students must move out of their dorms, and even more classes will be moved online, the state university system announced Tuesday in its latest efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Only students with “a legitimate and significant need” can remain in state university housing, and those granted waivers to stay must pass a health screening. On-campus dining operations may no longer offer sit-down service. In-person gatherings in the same campus space are now limited to 50 people.
The UNC System also instructed campuses to prepare plans to quarantine any remaining students if they get sick.
The stricter new guidance from the UNC System office in Chapel Hill came out the same day that N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper ordered restaurants and bars statewide to eliminate dine-in service and three days after the governor shut down all N.C. public schools for at least two weeks.
Shortly after the UNC System made its announcement, UNC-Chapel Hill said an employee tested positive for the novel coronavirus and is in isolation at home. It’s believed to be the first coronavirus case connected to a UNC System campus.
The UNC System issued its new guidelines Tuesday six days after it said students could stay in campus housing and told each campus to move classes online “where possible and practical” by Friday.
The UNC System on Tuesday didn’t say when — or if — in-person classes might resume this semester, which runs through early May. It also didn’t address the possibility of issuing refunds or credits for a portion of housing and dining fees. And neither the system office nor individual campuses have decided whether commencements will be held in May as scheduled.
A UNC System spokesman said university leaders will address those issues later. Several universities said that decision will come sometime after April 1.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present constantly evolving challenges for the UNC System’s leaders, students, faculty and employees,” the system office said in its update to campuses. “The entire (UNC) System continues to work diligently to protect the health and safety of our campus communities during this unprecedented public health emergency.”
Campus housing: UNCG students must leave their residence halls by 5 p.m. Friday, while A&T students must clear out of university-operated on-campus and off-campus housing by Sunday. Students may seek exemptions to remain on campus if they have no other available housing options. This directive does not apply to private off-campus homes and apartments. However, UNCG is urging its students to return home instead of moving off campus with friends because “this best serves our students and the public health mandate for social distancing.”
Classes: In-person classes and labs will no longer meet. A&T, which is holding classes this week, said “labs and other face-to-face classes have been transitioned to online formats.” UNCG, which canceled all in-person classes this week, said more than 400 classes scheduled to resume face-to-face sessions Monday have been suspended indefinitely. The majority of these suspended classes are in music, dance and nursing.
Classes across the UNC System are expected to resume online Monday. Several state universities gave their students a second week of spring break this week to prepare for the conversion to online classes. A&T and UNCG had spring break the first week of March.
Employees: Most employees at both institutions have been told to work remotely if possible. Employees considered mandatory must continue to report to campus.