The move follows an increase in positive coronavirus cases among college students. It is believed that life off campus is the main cause of this increased contamination.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) – one of the most reputable in the United States – officially decided on Monday to switch to virtual classes for nearly 20,000 of its students, after the detection of dozens of cases positive coronavirus the week of the start of the school year.
A total of 177 students from UNC Chapel Hill have tested positive and placed in isolation. The percentage of positivity of tests performed on campus also fell from 2.8% to 13.6% last week compared to the previous week, the public university said. 349 students have been quarantined.
Distance education for undergraduates
Only 60% of the university premises were occupied for the start of the school year and 30% of the students were physically present in class, however the university management said that from Wednesday, all undergraduate students (undergraduate, first four years) would move on to distance education. According to the UNC website, this concerns more than 19,000 students.
On the other hand, more advanced students, in master’s, doctorate and professional programs, that is to say more than 10,000 individuals, will be able to continue to attend the university in person.
“We are aware of the fear and anger these changes will engender in many students and parents,” wrote UNC President Chapel Hill, Kevin Guskiewicz, and Rector Robert Blouin. “But we believe that the current data presents an unacceptable situation”.
Off-campus life at stake
For months, Chapel Hill had worked to find a way to reconcile the pandemic and the comeback. She had distributed kits containing masks, hydroalcoholic gel, a thermometer and a contactless key. Classes had been spaced 30 minutes apart. The mask was mandatory and the class configuration had been arranged to allow distance. Gatherings of more than 10 people indoors are also prohibited.
But it appears that life off campus has been beyond the reach of university administrators. Outbreaks have broken out in several residences and in a fraternity house, reports the student newspaper Daily Tar Heel. In early August, the university wrote to members of fraternities and sororities criticizing them for their disregard for the instructions and organization of the parties, going so far as to threaten them with expulsion from the university.
A distance start in many universities
Chapel Hill’s decision echoes that of hundreds of other universities which have chosen to focus on distance education or have decided to opt for a hybrid start. According to statistics compiled by the College Crisis Initiative, of nearly 3,000 institutions of higher education in the United States, 30% chose to teach primarily or completely online, 15% a hybrid model and 23% mainly or completely online. no one. Other universities have yet to announce the format.