UNC is De-Densifying the Campus without Proper Testing

Just a week later calling undergraduates back to campus, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is sending them home again. After a shoot in COVID-19 cases, leadership declared that undergraduate classes will be conducted online for the rest of the semester. They’re churning up plans to cut the density in on-campus housing.

What other Colleges will do?

There may be other colleges and universities that are expected to follow the same footsteps. Which is open, see case numbers spike, and shut back down. While some schools have inverted decisions to hold classes in person, others are going ahead with plans to begin their fall semesters. This includes other universities that bring students from all over the country into one place. These schools and students are possibly seeing how UNC is backtracking and how it plans to send them back home.

The university is supporting students to leave voluntarily. It also wishes to have only one person in each on-campus dorm room, according to Jonathan Sauls, associate vice chancellor for student affairs. However, they have no plans to test all students before sending them back, as per the director of campus health. Students having symptoms or who have been in contact with a positive person can be tested at the campus’s health services.

Risks Involved

Sending students home without properly testing them can lead to many risks. Which includes them bringing the virus back home and re-seeding the virus back in their hometowns. “As school goes on-line, they will be spreading disease back into communities with larger fractions of vulnerable people,” tweeted Carl Bergstrom, a biology professor at the University of Washington. Bergstrom highlighted at the start of the month that colleges and universities should be asked about their plans to protect students’ families if dorms shut down and they have to be sent home.

As of Monday, 177 students were in isolation at UNC-Chapel Hill after testing positive for COVID-19, and hundreds more were in quarantine. The test positivity rate, through last week, on-campus increased over 10 percentage points to 13.6 percent. Such a high positivity rate exhibits that the virus is spreading through the campus community. (As per the World Health Organization, anything more than 5 percent is a matter for concern.) Possibly there are students infected with the virus who are asymptomatic, and they could leave campus without knowing they’re sick.

Ignoring Recommendations

Many colleges and universities planning for an orthodox semester have space set aside for students who contract COVID-19. However, they only have limited beds available. Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, plans to send infected students who live within a certain proximity of campus back home if the accommodation rate in the isolation spaces starts to go up. Winthrop University in South Carolina prefers to send any students who are positive or who have had contact with a COVID-19 case back home to isolate and quarantine. “We are not staffed to provide the level of care some students who come down with the virus may need,” according to a spokesperson.

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UNC brought students back to dorms and for in-semester could transform the area into a new COVID-19 hotspot. The university also didn’t test person instruction, going against the recommendations of the county health department. The department has warned that on-campus students should be tested for the virus when they arrived on campus. Instead, they depend on symptom monitoring, which research exhibits aren’t enough to prevent the outbreaks.

Sports teams at UNC are expected to keep holding practices, the athletic department said. They’re still looking forward to competing this fall season.