The last two weeks have seen quite the changes at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The school initially opened for on-campus instruction despite concerns from faculty, staff, students, and local health officials, but after multiple COVID-19 clusters broke out on campus and led to further strong criticism, the university abruptly shifted to all-remote learning Monday (only hours before the 95 percent tuition refund deadline) and then encouraged students to cancel their residence contracts.
Even after Monday’s cancellation of in-person classes, though, UNC continued with plans to play football and other sports this fall, saying that student-athletes in fall sports would continue to be housed on campus, attend online classes, and participate in team activities. But on Wednesday, they dramatically changed course, suspending all athletic activities through at least Thursday evening. Here’s the school’s statement:
Because of a continued upward trend in positive Covid-19 tests on campus, Carolina Athletics will suspend athletic activities for all sports teams until at least 5 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, August 20)
— UNC Tar Heels (@GoHeels) August 19, 2020
(While we understand that they use the hashtag in everything, the #GoHeels there really is quite the touch.)
Here’s more from that release:
Because of a continued upward trend in positive Covid-19 tests on campus, Carolina Athletics will immediately suspend athletic activities for all sports teams until at least 5 p.m. tomorrow (Thursday, August 20). Campus recreation facilities also will be closed.
“After consulting with our health experts and University leadership, we are taking this action to protect our students, coaches and staff,” said Carolina Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham. “We want to make sure we continue to do everything we can to ensure that that our teams, campus and community remain healthy.”
Student-athletes will continue to have access to academic support, student-athlete development, medical care and nutrition. All students, coaches and staff will continue to be expected to follow Carolina’s Community Standards.
As per UNC’s COVID-19 dashboard, they saw 135 new positive tests (130 students and five employees) during the week of August 10-16, boosting their cumulative positive numbers since February to 324 confirmed cases overall. We’ll see how they proceed Thursday. In football, their first scheduled game is Saturday, September 12 against the Syracuse Orange.