The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the largest schools in the country to bring students to campus for in-person teaching, said Monday that it will pivot to all-remote instruction for undergraduates after testing showed a pattern of rapid spread of the novel coronavirus.
The shift signaled enormous challenges ahead for those in higher education who are pushing for professors and students to be able to meet on campus. Officials announced the abrupt change just a week after classes began at the 30,000-student state flagship university.
They said 177 cases of the dangerous pathogen had been confirmed among students, out of hundreds tested. Another 349 students were in quarantine, on and off campus, because of possible exposure to the virus, they said.
The remote-teaching order for undergraduate classes will take effect Wednesday, and the university will take steps to allow students to leave campus housing without financial penalty. The actions are likely to reverberate in North Carolina and beyond, including other major public universities that have hopes of playing college football in the fall. UNC-Chapel Hill’s Tar Heels teams play in the Atlantic Coast Conference.