UNC Chapel Hill making changes in time for Monday reopening

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- UNC Chapel Hill Executive Vice Chancellor, Provost Robert Blouin and Housing Director Allan Blattner responded Thursday to the Orange County Health Department's recommendation that the school reopen with exclusively virtual classes for the beginning of the semester.

Blouin said they've been working on a reopening plan since May to:

"Make sure that we can pursue the mission of this university-the mission of research, education and public service at this university. And it is our general belief that we can do that best when we come to campus and work together."



The letter from the Orange County Health Department to university administrators also recommended restricting on-campus housing to at-risk students such as international and marginalized students.

LIST: North Carolina university, college COVID-19 plans for the 2020-2021 school year

In an email sent to the campus community, including students, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz said the Orange County Health Department's letter was not a mandate but that they take their recommendations very seriously.

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They've decided to make some changes including:
  • Limiting on-campus in-person classroom occupancy to 30 percent
  • Reducing on-campus residential capacity to 64 percent
  • Increasing their testing capacity
  • Increasing the frequency of bus routes with the town and transit partners
  • Increasing on-campus parking options


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In the letter, the Chancellor said they believe they are well-prepared to start the fall semester and will stick with their plan to reopen. He said they believe they made significant progress to align with the recommendations of the Orange County Health Department.

Students must agree to the COVID-19 Student Acknowledgment and all on campus will get a kit including two reusable face masks, hand sanitizer and a thermometer.

When students return to classes Monday, they won't be able to take the traditional "first sip" from the old well due to safety concerns. Students believe it brings good luck and good grades.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, Blattner said they'll be assigned an isolation dorm and receive "wraparound care."
If an off-campus student does not have space for safe isolation or quarantine, on-campus isolation or quarantine space is available to them, university officials said.

"We will deliver meals to them," Blattner said. "They will have health monitoring from our health center. Our Dean of Students' office will reach out to them. Obviously if they have a face-to-face class, they're going to need to not be present in that class for a period of time."

University administrators say they've taken two buildings offline for isolation and quarantine.

The bed count capacity for housing is 7,877 and they only have 4,990 contracts now. Blattner said that is because of the university taking the direction to reduce housing capacity.

Some classes are going virtual and students may not need on-campus housing anymore. All residential students may cancel their housing contract for any reason and without penalty before 5 p.m. Friday, August 7, 2020, according to university officials.

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