How colleges are reducing COVID-19 risk


Sam Bost, Copy Editor

While the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, most universities have elected to continue to hold most classes online. However, some universities are allowing some students to live on campus and attend in person classes. 

At many universities, there have been drastic changes to all aspects of student life. Most colleges have made new rules promoting the safety of students, shifting to online classes as the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise.

At UNC Chapel Hill, a series of precautionary measures are meant to mitigate the risk of exposure. Masks are required when inside, physical distancing must be maintained when possible, large gatherings are prohibited and personal health should be monitored.

As cases across the United States continue to rise, it is becoming increasingly important for these guidelines to be followed and enforced. However, increasing numbers of universities are pushing to go online. Many faculty members at UNC believe that even with the extra precautions, they will not be efficient in limiting exposure and the spread of the virus.

“Given the current conditions and UNC’s track record, the plans for spring are doomed to repeat too many of the failures of the fall,” said members of the faculty in an open letter published by The Daily Tarheel.

With the warnings from the faculty, UNC administrators are still working to find the best solution to this problem. Depending on the availability of potential vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna, UNC will continue to update their course of action for next semester.

“We are closely monitoring state and national case counts, and we are prepared to adjust our plans at any time and will announce changes no later than January 9 – prior to the return of our on-campus residents, if the conditions necessitate it,” said Joel Curran, university spokesman in a statement to students.

Like UNC Chapel Hill, many other colleges are reducing student interactions in response to coronavirus pandemic. Throughout the next few months, many colleges and universities will have to make decisions on how to move forward in response to the coronavirus. Although there are no certain plans, schools will attempt to communicate as transparently as possible.

“We understand the stress this uncertainty creates and will communicate with our University community and neighbors as frequently as needed to ensure we have a successful end to this semester, and a safe and effective start to the next,” said Kevin Guskiewicz, Chancellor at UNC Chapel Hill.

Colleges from all across the state have enacted similar protocols. UNC Wilmington’s restrictions follow closely in line with those set at UNC Chapel Hill and many other schools across the state. They also have created mandatory mask requirements, but are slightly more lenient in their enforcement. 

“It’s a completely different experience this year… there’s nothing going on,” said Carrick Berry, freshman at UNCW.

UNC Wilmington has also become much more strict about off-campus gatherings. In response to COVID-19 cluster outbreaks at other major universities such as NC State and UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington has asked that all off-campus housing comply with the guidelines set by Governor Roy Cooper, asking that they report any violations to these guidelines to the university.

“UNCW cannot require local apartment complexes and landlords to provide the university this information… However, in the spirit of attempting to keep our students, their peers, and the broader community safe, we have simply requested that they share information with us if it includes a violation of the Governor’s Executive Order 155,” said Mike Walker, associate vice chancellor and dean of students.