The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced Thursday that it will start the spring semester as planned on Jan. 19 but will deliver the first three weeks of undergraduate instruction online because of the elevated threat of COVID-19.
“We are making these changes with the health of our campus and the community in mind,” said a letter from Kevin M. Guskiewicz, the chancellor, and Robert A. Blouin, the executive vice chancellor and provost. “We have carefully analyzed the data and consulted with our campus public health and infectious disease experts, the chair of the faculty, the chair of the Employee Forum, the student body president, UNC Health, county health officials and the UNC System to inform these decisions.”
Chapel Hill joins a growing number of colleges that are either delaying the start of the semester or conducting the first weeks of the semester online.
Goucher College, in Maryland, went a step further Wednesday, announcing that it would remain fully virtual this spring. Citing a statewide COVID-19 positivity rate of 9.5 percent and a local rate of 7 percent, which are “well above the Return to Campus criteria we established last summer,” Goucher officials said they had made the “deeply disappointing” decision.
“We wanted nothing more than to welcome everyone back to campus this spring,” wrote Kent Devereaux, the president. “However, our community’s health and well-being remain our highest priority. We cannot ignore the science and public health data that indicates a return to campus would not be in our community’s best interests.”