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UNC Charlotte pushes back the start of in-person classes to late February

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Sharon Gaber said in an update that the projections anticipate the peak of the virus in early February.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UNC Charlotte announced it is pushing back the start of in-person classes to Feb. 22.

In an update to Niner Nation, UNC Charlotte Chancellor Sharon Gaber said classes will begin as scheduled on Jan. 20, but all classes will be delivered online/remotely until Feb. 22.

 “The data shows positive cases and positivity rates continue to climb in North Carolina, once again putting strain on critical health care resources. In Mecklenburg County, the positivity rate has continually remained among the highest in the state and projections anticipate the peak of the virus in early February," Gaber said in the update 

The university said it listened to feedback from the campus community, including the Student Government Association (SGA) and faculty and staff leaders in formulating the plan.

Dick Beekman, president pro tempore for Student Senate and UNC Charlotte junior, said students have learned to roll with the changes this school year has thrown at them to adjust.

"It's unfortunate that we have to start online,” Beekman said, “but it's in accordance with public health officials are recommending, so I agree with the decision in that sense."

RELATED: Federal and state health leaders push to speed up vaccine distribution in North Carolina

Beekman said students worked with university leadership to formulate a plan to still have some semblance of a “spring break.”

Students will still have a weeklong break, but it will be Feb. 8-12 before students resume any in-person classes.

"Obviously with the Covid-19 pandemic, I would encourage all students to consider a staycation and not travel in the first place,” Beekman said.

Last fall, several North Carolina universities, including NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill, brought students back on campus for in-person classes. Following high numbers of Covid-19 cases, classes were quickly moved online.

UNC Charlotte delayed bringing students back for in-person classes in the fall and has worked to keep Covid-19 case numbers low on campus. It implemented wastewater testing to detect Covid-19 in residence halls and follow-up testing.

“We were able to see firsthand the consequences of not taking Covid-19 seriously at schools like Chapel Hill, NC State, and ECU,” Beekman said, “and that sent a very clear message to our student body that if we didn’t take this seriously, that we would end up in the same situation as those students and sent home.”

The university is adding re-entry testing and enhancing mitigation testing for the spring to further enhance being able to identify asymptomatic cases of the virus on campus.

RELATED: Mecklenburg County Health Director announces 3-week directive to protect residents from COVID-19