Undergraduate students at North Carolina State University were told to leave their campus housing by Sept. 6 due to the swift spread of COVID-19 within dormitories, the school chancellor announced.
“We hoped and strived to keep residence halls open and safe to best serve our students,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said Wednesday. “However, the rapid spread and increasing rate of positive cases have made our current situation untenable.”
A select number can apply for waivers to remain on-campus, Woodson clarified in a news conference to local media, listing international students who cannot return home, those experiencing a financial burden or poor internet access, and students with family members at risk for COVID-19. Graduate students were also permitted to stay, Woodson said, citing their need to carry out research on campus.
Students who leave campus will receive a prorated refund for the unused portion of their housing and dining costs.
This has been a very difficult week for NC State. The spread of the virus has been unrelenting. Chancellor Randy Woodson
“This has been a very difficult week for NC State. The spread of the virus has been unrelenting,” Woodson said at the news conference.
The announcement comes about two weeks after classes began on Aug. 10 and just two days after the school was forced to shift to virtual classes on Monday. About 7,400 students were living on campus at the start of the semester, with the number dropping to 6,200 after the switch to online courses.
NC State University has employed an aggressive testing and tracing program, and, according to the school’s website, 325 positive cases of COVID-19 emerged in the week from Aug. 20 to 26.
Twenty-four coronavirus clusters ― defined as five or more cases occurring in close proximity ― have been reported since the start of the fall semester, with six clusters traced to dormitories, 10 to Greek fraternity or sorority houses, and eight to off-campus apartments.
During the switch to online classes, Woodson cited large parties at Greek houses and “behavior outside of our community standards and the governor’s mandates” as the likely reason for the rise in COVID-19 numbers.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has faced similar setbacks with its reopening. The student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel, publishing a harsh critique of the school’s leadership, saying it had created a “clusterfuck” by pushing on-campus learning before clumsily transitioning to online courses.
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