Can college campuses still function with students attending in-person classes during a pandemic? At the University of North Carolina, the answer is no.
Monday afternoon UNC-Chapel Hill announced all undergraduate classes will move online this Wednesday. The decision was made after a significant rise in positive cases of COVID-19. Currently, 177 students are in isolation and 349 are in quarantine, both on and off campus. During that time positivity rates increased from 2.8% to 13.6%. After setting aside dorm rooms to quarantine infected students, only four reportedly remain vacant.
“Since launching the Roadmap for Fall 2020, we have emphasized that if we were faced with the need to change plans — take an off-ramp — we would not hesitate to do so, but we have not taken this decision lightly. We have made it in consultation with state and local health officials, Carolina’s infectious disease experts and the UNC System,” the school chancellors said in a joint statement.
In the midst of the bad news, one question lingers for sports fans — what does this mean for college football?
A pessimist may see this as the beginning of the end. The SEC and ACC have been buying time to see how the virus reacts once students return to campus. After lasting only one week at North Carolina, one could assume it’s a death blow for college football.
There’s plenty of reason to continue to be optimistic. By ending in-person classes before they ever really begin, it keeps athletes away from the regular students and creates an environment that somewhat resembles the professional “bubbles.” Of course, in order for this road to be taken, colleges would have to acknowledge the truth we already know — athletes are treated differently than regular students.