'A lot of us are concerned': UNC student return to in-person learning after Franklin Street celebration; more than 300 complaints made

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some UNC students are thrilled to be back inside the classroom as in-person learning resumed Monday.

"It's good to be back both from mental standpoint and physical standpoint just being on campus," said Carolina sophomore Caleb Myers. "It's a relief."

It's an exciting milestone, but also a Catch-22.

Some UNC students were seen keeping with tradition Saturday night by racing to Franklin Street and celebrating a win over Duke. Some people were wearing masks, but not social distancing.

The party infuriated some folks on campus.

"I just thought it was not responsible with everything going on to go," said Carolina junior Gracie Evans. "I think that there are other ways to celebrate than going and putting the rest of your community in danger."

"I think a lot of us are concerned about the increase in exposure people probably had over the weekend," said Carolina senior Abe Loven.

UNC fans defy COVID-19 restrictions by storming Franklin Street after win over Duke

UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz arriving on campus and we were hoping to speak with him about students defying COVID-19 restrictions, but he briskly walked inside his office building.

Guskiewicz issued a strong warning over weekend that UNC will "pursue consequences" through disciplinary action. Chapel Hill police are assisting in the investigation.

The Student Affairs Office has received hundreds of student conduct complaints.

UNC-Chapel Hill Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson said Monday more than 300 referrals for possible conduct violations. Johnson said each referral will be reviewed to see if they can be a verified violation of the COVID-19 Community Standards.Due to the volume of referrals, the process will take time.

"If you were out on Saturday night celebrating the basketball game, it is advised that you self-monitor for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 and get a test on day six following potential exposure at this mass gathering," said Orange County Health Director Quintana Stewart. "We know that community spread of COVID-19 is high so it is important to take these measures to slow the spread of this disease."

"Since the start of the pandemic, our entire community has worked diligently to learn and come up with shared expectations of how we should all be acting during the pandemic in order to keep everyone safe," said Mayor Pam Hemminger. "This has been hard on everyone but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We need everyone to stay vigilant together until our public health experts say it is safe to do otherwise."

Officials said each reported violation will be assessed and get an initial review. If students are found responsible, consequences could range from a warning, to facility access restrictions or loss of campus privileges, removal from housing, or disenrollment, depending upon the severity of the violation.

"I don't think they should kick students out, disenroll them from the university for a semester, seems a little strong to me," said Loven.

UNC has several protocols to keep students safe.

To start, there's a de-densified campus environment. Only 31 percent of undergrads can take one to two courses in person.

Students have to be tested twice a week and are required to wear masks. Class sizes are also smaller.

Due to concerns over the Franklin Street celebration, faculty has the option of sticking to remote learning for now and can return to in-person learning next Wednesday.

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