COVID-19, Education, Higher Ed, News

ECU, UNC-Charlotte move undergraduate courses online due to COVID-19

East Carolina University and UNC-Charlotte are the latest UNC System schools to announced they will move all undergraduate courses online in the face of COVID-19.

UNC-Charlotte, which has yet to begin classes, will be online until Oct. 1, according to a message from the school.

ECU plans to shift online for the full fall semester

The announcement came Sunday, after six infection clusters were announced at ECU over the weekend.

“This decision to move online for the fall semester was not made lightly,” said ECU Interim Chancellor Ron Mitchelson in a written statement Sunday. “We are appreciative of the ongoing support and approval of our plan to move forward by UNC System President Peter Hans and public health experts. We believe this decision is best for the well-being of our entire campus community.”

“As I have said during the planning for the Return of Pirate Nation, I believe that we achieve our mission – student and regional success – at much higher levels when we can operate in person and with face-to-face engagement,” Mitchelson said in the statement. “However, ECU is a nationally recognized leader in distance education making us well positioned to make this shift.”

ECU will have students move out of residence halls this week. International students, athletes and those with hardships that require them living on-campus can apply to remain on campus. The school will offer students prorated refunds for housing and dining and is extending its no-penalty withdrawal deadline to 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 28, for its first eight-week block of courses. The no-penalty withdrawal deadline for 15-week courses will stay Sept. 4.

UNC-Charlotte, which was to begin in-person classes Sept. 7, is the first school in the system to make the shift before the semester’s courses have actually begun.

“In recent weeks, Mecklenburg County has seen COVID-19-positive cases start to decline and public health officials are encouraged by these trends,” UNC-Charlotte Chancellor Sharon Gaber said in a message to the university community Sunday.  “However, the county continues to have the highest number of outbreaks and clusters in the state. While the community is making considerable progress to slow the rate of transmission, we do not want to lose this momentum.”

The school still plans to allow students to allow students to move into on-campus housing, though the move-in period will now be from Sept. 26-29. International students and those who have extenuating circumstances can apply for an exception to move in during the previously established August 31 – Sept.6 period.

The announcements from ECU and UNC-Charlotte follow similar moves online by UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State last week.

“Safety is always our highest priority,” UNC System President Peter Hans said in a written statement released Sunday. “We also care deeply about equitable access to education through the residential experience and the long-term success of our students. This pandemic is forcing disruptions and creating hardships that have brought unprecedented difficulty to every aspect of our lives.”

“Every UNC System institution has unique resources and challenges so flexibility is important to weigh the best course for each campus,” Hans said in the statement. “I want to thank the faculty, staff, and parents for their extraordinary efforts as we all work to provide our students the high-quality education they need and deserve.”

 

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