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Two North Carolina universities move classes online

Two North Carolina universities move classes online
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Two universities in North Carolina have announced plans to halt in-person classes and move at least part of their fall semesters online after both schools reported a handful of COVID-19 cases on their campuses.

East Carolina University (ECU), which has reported 10 cases among members of its football team and a handful more in a student residence hall, said that it would suspend classes for two days this week before online sessions would begin on Wednesday.

"We’ve completed two weeks of classes in our first eight-week block for the fall semester. However, during the last week we have experienced a rapid acceleration of COVID-19 cases, including multiple clusters," interim ECU Chancellor Ron Mitchelson wrote in a letter to faculty, students and parents.

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"For this reason, University leadership has worked with UNC System President Peter Hans to determine what is best for the health and safety of our Pirates moving forward. We are appreciative of the ongoing support and approval of our plan by President Hans to move our undergraduate classes to online instruction beginning Wednesday, Aug. 26.," he continued.

Elsewhere, at University of North Carolina - Charlotte, where four cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed on the school's main campus, officials said Sunday that in-person classes would be paused until October.

"In consultation with the UNC System and local health officials, UNC Charlotte announced on Sunday, Aug. 23, it will begin classes as scheduled on Monday, September 7, but will delay the start of in-person instruction of undergraduate and graduate classes for three weeks until Thursday, October 1," read a statement on UNC-Charlotte's website.

"All instruction will begin as planned on the first day of classes, Monday, September 7, but will now be delivered online/remotely," the statement continued. "This decision is made with the health and well-being of our students and employees as our top priorities."

UNC-Chapel Hill announced last week that it would suspend in-person classes due to a spike in COVID-19 cases among students, which school officials blamed on students not following social-distancing guidelines at gatherings, particularly off-campus.

“There are no easy answers as the nation navigates through the pandemic. At this point, we haven’t received any information that would lead to similar modifications at any of our other universities,” said UNC System President Peter Hans in a statement. 

“Whether at Chapel Hill or another institution, students must continue to wear facial coverings and maintain social distancing, as their personal responsibility, particularly in off-campus settings, is critical to the success of this semester and to protect public health,” Hans added.