UNC students move off campus as other colleges continue in-person classes

Posted August 18, 2020 1:11 p.m. EDT
Updated August 19, 2020 7:35 a.m. EDT

— As some University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students head back home, students at other colleges are just starting classes.

On Monday, UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz told students and faculty that all undergraduate classes would be online starting Wednesday because of the growing number of coronavirus cases. A coronavirus outbreak has also been reported at North Carolina State University.

At William Peace University in downtown Raleigh, there have been no reports of the virus on campus -- although the small school only serves around 1,000 students.

Like other schools, William Peace has students complete a daily symptom tracker on a portal before heading to class. Although some classes are being held in-person, they’ve been moved to a larger space to allow for social distancing. There are also signs up to prevent crowding in popular areas.

On Tuesday at UNC, some students said they expected to be on campus until at least Labor Day.

"I think it was good to send us home, especially with all the clusters and the numbers rising. It's definitely disappointing, but I think they made the right choice," said Margaret Moore, a UNC freshman.

"I think it's really sad, and I wish it were different, but I'm not going to pretend like I know more than all the people who study this. It's their job to make this decision, but I'm still really sad," said Anna Snyder, a UNC freshman.

University officials said so far, 573 students have requested housing contract cancelations. By noon on Tuesday, 103 students had already completed the move-out process.

Snyder and Moore both said they planned to move out but were disappointed after just moving into a dorm two weeks ago.

"I've ordered all this stuff for my dorm room," said Snyder. "But where are we going to put that at our house?"

Four clusters – groups of five or more cases in a single location – of the virus have been reported at two UNC-Chapel Hill residence halls, an off-campus apartment complex that caters to students and a fraternity since Friday.

The UNC Dashboard showed that 279 students have tested positive for the virus.

Residents who have hardships, such as lack of access to reliable internet access, international students or student-athletes will have the option to remain on campus.

While university officials said that students living on campus could cancel housing contracts, students off-campus are facing a different situation.

"I already signed a lease, so I can't really get out of my lease at this point," said UNC senior Cheryl Phillips.

Phillips said she felt safe staying in Chapel Hill for the semester.

"I only live with one roommate. We both have all online classes, and we don't really see other people," she explained.

Only undergraduate classes will be online for the fall semester, Graduate, professional and health affairs schools will be taught as they are, or directed by the schools.

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