The University of North Carolina has closed, moving all undergraduate courses to remote learning, effective Wednesday, August 19 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. That’s according to The Daily Tar Heel in reference to an email sent out by UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Bob Blouin.
Since late last week, the university has confirmed four clusters of COVID-19 — at two residence halls, a private apartment complex, and an off-campus fraternity. Guskiewicz and Blouin said the majority of students who are COVID positive have not presented as severe cases.
“So far, we’ve been fortunate that most students who have tested positive have demonstrated mild symptoms,” Guskiewicz and Blouin said in their email.
Why did UNC make the decision? Apparently, off-campus activities (read: partying) caused an increase in COVID cases. Chancellor Guskiewicz told CNN that the university had a good campus-based plan for preventing the virus from spreading, but it didn’t matter.
“We had a good road map that we developed,” Guskiewicz told CNN affiliate WRAL. “When activities began to happen off campus and then bringing some of that back into the residence halls, that’s where we began to see the positive cases and we were surprised at the velocity and the magnitude of the spread.”
About 130 UNC undergraduate students tested positive for COVID in the first week of the fall semester.
According to Chancellor Guskiewicz, students on campus were for the most part following the COVID guidelines. They were washing their hands, wearing masks, and practicing social distancing. But Student Body President Reeves Moseley told CNN that “students weren’t necessarily social distancing and upholding community standards.”
CNN reports that the positivity rate among UNC students rose to 13.6% of the 954 students tested last week. They say five employees also tested positive, and that by Monday morning, 177 students were in isolation and 349 students were in quarantine.