COVID-19, Education, Higher Ed, News

UNC-Chapel Hill Commission: too many hurdles for return to campus in pandemic

On Friday, as students began returning to dorms at UNC System schools across the state, UNC Chapel Hill’s Commission on Campus Equality & Student Equity released an emergency resolution regarding the return to campus during the worsening COVID-19 pandemic in the state. The resolution condemns the university’s lack of communication with students about its decisions and how they are reached.

The commission’s conclusion: it is simply too dangerous for tens of thousands of students, staff and faculty to return to in-person instruction.

The Bell Tower on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

“Through our dialogue with undergraduates, graduate and professional students, and community residents, we have found that major concerns currently exist regarding internet accessibility, effective adherence to community guidelines, and the lack of asynchronous course offerings,” the commission wrote in its resolution. “Presently, there are too many health and socioeconomic hurdles in place for both our students and the residents of Chapel Hill to confidently state that it is appropriate to bring students back to our campus.”

“We realize that such a decision will place our facilities workers at risk, but we have requested that these workers be reassessed for other ways they can contribute to the Carolina community and that the University take all necessary precautions to prevent the job loss of these workers while aiming to keep our students and families safe,” the commission wrote.

“We condemn the University’s lack of acknowledgement and actionable response to the thousands of students, facilities workers, and faculty members that have expressed grave life-threatening concerns regarding an in-person return,” the resolution read.

The move comes the same week 30 tenured professors at the university published an open letter urging students to stay home in the Fall  semester.

“Your experience as a Chapel Hill undergraduate is a journey we are delighted to join and feel fortunate to be a part of,” the professors wrote. “We want to be in the classroom teaching you.”

“However, we cannot, in good conscience, perform that role on campus this semester,” they wrote. “We need to stay safe from Covid-19 by staying at home – and we need you to stay home in order to protect yourselves and your fellow students, your teachers, the many workers who serve you on campus, the residents of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and your own family members and loved ones.”

Read the Commission on Campus Equality & Student Equity resolution in its entirety here.


  1. Michelle

    August 1, 2020 at 11:19 pm

    Why wait until Friday to write this when students are moving in? Were they addressing it and the media failed to acknowledge their concerns? I’m really confused especially since so many students and parents have made preparations and spent money to move in this week even though they’re afraid.

  2. Robert Lewis

    August 2, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    Interesting timing…this group of “concerned” stakeholders waited until after we paid rent/housing. I call BS I believe their lazy and afraid. If an educator is not an essential worker, no one is an essential worker

  3. Carol

    August 2, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    So, is UNC Chapel Hill reopening or is it not? See that many professors are afraid of getting back into the classroom, but this is definitely short notice for students who are already returning and planning to return next week!

  4. Tulasi Craddock

    August 2, 2020 at 5:55 pm

    Bottom line is money. If they moved in even for a day, technically the school would not have to reimburse for housing etc

  5. Tim

    August 2, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    Who will be responsible when faculty, staff or students get covid and die? Anyone else wonder who?

  6. Terry

    August 3, 2020 at 12:25 am

    I said let the students come back wearing face covering in class is much safer they refused mark absence unless has medical paperwork from doctor explain health problems.

  7. Frustrated Parent

    August 3, 2020 at 3:56 am

    What about the other UNC schools across the system? We are scheduled to move into UNCW August 15th. Enough already, if you are going to stay at home, fine. Just tell us the plan and stop leaving everyone hanging. We are spending money we could be saving on something that may not even happen. I am a very frustrated parent.

  8. Bonnie

    August 3, 2020 at 11:32 am

    One thing about making decisions I learned along the way as a maturing adult was that if everyone was telling you that something was a bad idea, you might want to consider that idea instead of blindly moving forward. Seemingly, UNC Administrators have either not learned this yet or have stuck their fingers in their ears so they could not hear the cacaphony of feedback that has said we’d rather be safe than sorry. The reason this sentiment comes so late is only because the administration refused to deal with it along the way and would not acknowledge disagreement with the deliberately vague “Roadmap.”

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