UNC Charlotte will begin the semester online with plans to reinstate in-person instruction on Oct. 1, Chancellor Gaber announced in an email on Aug. 23.
Gaber noted that while COVID-19 positive cases and hospitalizations are declining in Mecklenburg County, the metropolitan area still has the highest number of cases in the state. “While the community is making considerable progress to slow the rate of transmission, we do not want to lose this momentum,” said Gaber.
Move-in to residence halls has been delayed to Sept. 26 except for international students, RAs and other students with extenuating circumstances who may return on the original date of Aug. 31. The deadline to cancel housing has been pushed back to Sept. 4 and tuition is now due Sept. 1 instead of Aug. 26. Housing, dining and parking charges will be amended to reflect the altered schedule but tuition and fees will remain the same.
On Aug. 21, 23 members of UNC Charlotte's public health faculty sent a letter to Chancellor Gaber urging her to begin the semester online.
“As professionals who are training our students and conducting research in the values and principles of community health, the reluctance of the UNC System Board of Governors to shift to virtual-only activities this fall is a clear contradiction of our work,” they wrote.
The letter pointed out that UNC Charlotte has more commuters and students belonging to vulnerable communities than do other large institutions, increasing UNC Charlotte’s potential viral impact on the broader community.
The decision to begin the semester remotely comes after UNC Chapel Hill and N.C. State University cancelled in-person instruction just a week after students started classes. UNC Chapel Hill jumped from a 2.8 percent positivity rate to 13.6 percent in a matter of seven days. Both schools, which have similar enrollment numbers to UNC Charlotte, reported clusters in Greek houses and dorms.
UNC System President Peter Hans blamed students for the failed openings. "This hard work is being undermined by a very small number of students behaving irresponsibly off campus, which unfairly punishes the vast majority,'' he said in a statement on Aug. 20.
Gaber warned against the dangers of partying in her message to the UNC Charlotte community, adding, “But we aren’t like other universities. We are Niner Nation.”
The university will decide whether to move forward with in-person instruction before students move into dorms on Sept. 26.
As of Aug. 18, UNC Charlotte reports four positive cases on its main campus.