Education

On-campus lab will help UNC-Chapel Hill expand student coronavirus testing next semester

Posted November 12, 2020 9:43 p.m. EST

— The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is setting up a lab on campus to make frequent testing of students for coronavirus next semester more efficient and less expensive, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said Thursday.

The school had to shift all undergraduate classes online a week into the fall semester because of a spike in coronavirus infections. Guskiewicz said administrators have learned for that experience and plan to make changes as they bring students back to campus in January with some in-person classes.

"Some of our plans have worked. Other parts have not, and we know this has caused frustration and disappointment for many," he said. "We are doing things different this spring."

The state Department of Health and Human Services also is sending more than 74,000 rapid tests to UNC-Chapel Hill and other universities across the state to test students before they head home at the end of the fall semester in a couple of weeks. Students will be tested again as soon as they return to campus and routinely during the semester.

"Serial testing throughout the semester will be important to help prevent the spread of the virus," Guskiewicz said.

A web-based app will make sure the school stays on top of students.

"[We plan] to have an access banner that talks about whether or not they are in compliance for our regular testing surveillance program," said Dr. Amir Barzin, an assistant professor in the UNC School of Medicine who is helping lead the school’s testing effort.

Other changes for the spring include fewer students living in dorms, leaving more room for students who may be sick can isolate or be in quarantine.

Guskiewicz noted that most students adhered to coronavirus precautions on campus at the start of the year, and officials will work harder to reinforce the guidelines when students leave campus.

'[We'll] try to control and enforce the off-campus gatherings,” he said.

Out-of-state tuition increase proposed

Earlier Thursday, the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees voted Thursday to raise tuition for out-of-state students by 2 percent, to about $36,000 for undergraduates and about $30,000 for graduate students.

Tuition would remain the same for in-state students, although student fees would increase by $10.

The proposed increases must be approved by the UNC Board of Governors.

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