On March 18, Chancellor Gaber announced that UNC Charlotte is planning to return to full operations in fall 2021. This means that students and faculty can expect face-to-face classes to resume at pre-pandemic levels. These changes will include residence halls opening at full occupancy, employees returning to their offices, all campus services occurring in person, all buildings and facilities operating at regular capacity, and spectators returning to Charlotte 49ers events.
Following Chancellor Gaber's email on Mar. 25, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina would open COVID-19 vaccine distribution to Group 4b, which includes those living in close group living facilities (i.e. students living in residence halls) starting on March 31. Starting April 7, all North Carolina adults were eligible for the vaccine.
As students and faculty await more information about what fall 2021 will look like for UNC Charlotte, they have a lot to say about the University's reopening plans.
Psychology major Skye Bradley ('24) is currently living on campus, despite having all online courses. Bradley said she supports these plans."
"We already have some face-to-face classes going on now, and with the current protocols in place and more people being vaccinated, I think the plans for the fall are still safe," said Bradley.
Bradley said she was slightly concerned about "a new surge of COVID-19 cases" and would like to learn more about the different practices to keep students and faculty safe. "Opening up to mostly-full capacity is definitely something to look forward to," Bradley said.
Art major Sean Lawrence ('24) attends both on-campus and online classes and said he supports the announcement to an extent. "If COVID-19 sprouts up again during the fall, I assume UNC Charlotte will take the right measures to protect the students and staff." However, he said, "I worry for my family members if I do contract it."
Architecture major Carla Resendiz Nolasco ('24) said they were "excited to finally get the full college experience but a bit concerned about having the school operating at mostly full capacity."
"I think it's still too early to dictate whether it is safe to return. Cases are still rising in the U.S. and North Carolina. Specifically, Mecklenburg County is a hotspot for [COVID-19] cases," said Nolasco. Her fears lie in those who "will not want to get the vaccination."
Like the students, UNC Charlotte faculty also speculates what the fall semester will look like in 2021. Professor Lane Rhodes, an adjunct lecturer for the English department, has complete faith in the University.
"UNC Charlotte's leadership communicates clearly, and its decision-making astutely follows factual evidence from credentialed sources," said Rhodes. As scientific evidence shifts, leadership follows reliable guidance and adapts policies and practices. There is no doubt that the Chancellor and her team are committed to each member of UNC Charlotte."
Returning to UNC Charlotte for the start of the fall 2021 semester has been long-awaited. While there are differing opinions that opening at full capacity is a good idea, most agree that they can't wait to be back on campus and back to normal.