Local News

Overcrowded pool at off-campus student housing near UNC raises concerns about a safe semester

Posted August 13, 2020 4:53 p.m. EDT
Updated August 13, 2020 6:03 p.m. EDT

— Photos of crowds of people at an apartment complex pool near the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are raising some concerns about safety – and lack thereof – during the coming semester.

Walking down Franklin Street on an average day in Chapel Hill, most residents are seen wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

However, residents at the Union Chapel Hill Apartments, which serve as off-campus student housing, said it was a different story over the weekend.

Apartment residents said the overcrowding at the pool started when UNC students began moving in last week.

A photo taken from one resident’s apartment on Saturday showed people clustered in the pool, swimming shoulder-to-shoulder – and a distinct lack of masks.

The incident has left Chapel Hill residents nervous about the potential spread of COVID-19 in their community, particularly during the fall semester.

In response, officials from the complex have implemented new changes that take effect on Thursday.

With complaints piling up, Union Chapel Hill is now limiting the number of people in the pool area to 80, allowing 40 in the pool and 40 on the pool deck.

UNC students seen gathering without masks or social distancing at a Chapel Hill pool.

Everyone must wear a mask.

"It doesn’t matter if it’s two people or 100 people, any one person who is infected can infect other people in that area," said Sanya Shah, a junior at UNC.

In an email to residents Wednesday, the complex wrote, “The town and health department are giving us one chance to make sure we are doing everything we can as a community to comply and slow the potential spread of COVID-19."

The complex has been advised that the health department will be making surprise visits to the property to personally observe the efforts and compliance of residents.

UNC students seen gathering without masks or social distancing at a Chapel Hill pool.

“I think they’re really listening to what we need and that’s nice," said Shah.

Students are hoping their peers listen.

"Just to stay six feet apart and wear your masks and watch out for other people who may or may not have friends or family members who are high risk," said Shah.

As for violations on-campus: Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz told The Washington Post that three students have already been kicked out of the dorms for failing to meet university standards.

UNC officials would not disclose the total number of students removed from on-campus housing so far.

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