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Colleges face tough decision of returning to in-person classes spring semester as COVID cases continue to rise

As COVID-19 keeps its hold on the Carolinas, parents, students, staff, and university officials are watching closely and taking things day by day.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Colleges are facing a tough decision, whether or not to allow students back on campus for the upcoming spring semester. With many students scheduled to return in just days, a lot is still up in the air. 

On Thursday UNC-Chapel Hill announced they’ll delay the start of in-person classes by three weeks. Classes will begin on Jan. 19 as planned, but in-person instruction won’t resume until at least Feb. 8, university officials announced.

RELATED: USC students return to campus for 2021 with mandatory virus testing in place

The decision coming as North Carolina faces record-high covid cases, deaths, and hospitalizations.

State Health Secretary Mandy Cohen Emphasizing the concern Friday.

“This is the most worried I’ve been," Dr. Cohen said.

RELATED: UNC-Chapel Hill makes adjustments to spring semester due to COVID

Other Carolina universities debating their plans.

UNC Charlotte said they’re still planning to resume on-campus learning on January 20 but school officials warned that could change, saying an update will come no later than Monday, Jan. 11.

NC State also planning to let students return when classes resume Monday, Jan.11 but announced this week they’re requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test from all students and staff who will be attending in-person classes or living within a mile radius of campus.

The University of South Carolina also resuming in-person instruction on Jan. 11.

RELATED: 'Most worried I've ever been' | North Carolina records another 10K new COVID cases

Students and staff must not only provide proof of a negative test before returning to campus but also will be required to get a university-provided test every 30 days.

As COVID-19 keeps its hold on the Carolinas, parents, students, staff, and university officials are watching closely and taking things day by day.

RELATED: CMS: Reported COVID cases among students drop over winter break

RELATED: Meet the Charlotte 8th grader who launched a business during the pandemic