Students return to Chapel Hill with more testing in place

Posted January 22, 2021 5:58 p.m. EST
Updated January 28, 2021 10:26 a.m. EST

— Students are coming back to UNC Chapel Hill this week, starting the semester in remote learning but hoping in-person classes can resume soon.

Local business managers like Matt Pate at the Shrunken Head are glad to see them.

Online business kept Shruken Head alive through the fall, but with students back in person, Pate says sales are picking up.

“We love having them back, for sure,” Pate told WRAL News.

That sentiment isn't universal, though. Some Chapel Hill residents are worried returning students will lead to more outbreaks in their community.

“They are scared the virus will spike and continue to spike if students continue with these parties and get-togethers, because they are in neighborhoods and they frequent the same businesses,” explained Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger.

Hemminger is glad to see the students, but she's urging them to rethink social gatherings.

“If the numbers go in the wrong direction, they are going to continue with online," Hemminger said, "and that’s not what anyone wants for the students, either.”

UNC’s new testing strategy requires all students and staff that come to campus get tested at least once a week, even if they’re not experiencing symptoms. Students who live on campus or attend in-person classes must be tested twice a week.

In-person classes are scheduled to resume on a limited basis February 8th.

Students like Joshua Eisner and Kedrianna Griffin say they're crossing their fingers and avoiding large gatherings.

"I am not doing it because of the pandemic," Griffin said, "because I want to keep everybody else in the town safe.”

Eisner thinks a lot of other students will do the same this spring.

“I feel confident that we are not going to have a repeat of last semester where a majority of people got sent home,” Eisner said.

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