UNC faculty pushes petition to move classes online to start new school year

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- As the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to grip the community, thousands of UNC-Chapel Hill students have already returned for the start of a new school year, which begins Aug. 18.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly everyone living in the United States is in a place where the transmission rate is considered to be high or substantial.

It is for that reason and a potential repeat of the 2020-21 school year that several hundred UNC faculty members have signed their names to a petition with the hopes of moving classes online for four-to-six weeks.

"I think it could be a good transition for all of us going into college," said freshman student Camille Knab. The Wilmington native and journalism major spent her senior year of high school learning remotely. When asked about the faculty petition, she replied, "I could be fine with a couple more weeks."

The move came as Monday evening, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz opened the school's convocation for the classes of 2024 and 2025 and transfer students by saying, "If we learn together in person, we're still fighting against the COVID-19 virus. So I really can't emphasize enough the importance of wearing your masks indoors and to get vaccinated if you've not already done so."

The chancellor's opening remarks were met with cheers.

Within the petition, which calls the school's reopening to in-person "a formula for disaster," faculty are criticizing administrators for what they believe is a lack of having an "off ramp" for remote learning, nearly full dining halls and dormitories, and no face coverings at football games.

Sophomore student Adi Uchil said she feels faculty should have options to conduct their courses differently.

"I'm hopeful that they'll put their classes online so that they won't have to meet new students who are going out to events like these," he said as he was leaving the convocation. "That's just like the gray area you can't really control. I mean, they're doing everything that they could"

Entering the convocation, students without masks were given one.

"There's precautions set up in place so that we all have masks and stuff like that. It should be fine," said Apex native and biomedical engineering sophomore Will McClain. "I'm not too worried about it."
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