System president: UNC System plans to re-open for fall semester

Emily Broyles, Reporter

App State students can look forward to driving up the mountain this fall, as the UNC system plans to re-open campuses for the fall semester. 

UNC System Interim President Bill Roper sent a memo to students April 29 explaining intentions for the upcoming semester and academic year.

Roper said recent data in North Carolina show positive trends in the effort of minimizing the spread of COVID-19. He also said while teachers and students have adapted to remote teaching and learning, other resources are still needed.

“For many in the UNC System, digital learning technologies simply cannot be a long-term substitute for the facilities and community that our campuses provide,” Roper said. “The majority of our faculty and students need access to our libraries, labs, classrooms, and medical and agriculture facilities to fully engage with their research, teaching, learning, and service work.”

Roper said the UNC System is “working closely with our chancellors to chart a course forward” while keeping students and faculty in mind, including those who may be older or who have other health conditions. 

In an address to Faculty Senate April 27, Chancellor Sheri Everts said, “Our learning environment has been fundamentally changed by COVID-19. Fall semester in 2020 will not look like Fall semester 2019. There are many questions about the future, and much we don’t know about what it holds. We are exploring every option to offer learning environments that have new and lasting standards of safety. We will build in flexibility and remain adaptable. We will continue to rise to each new challenge before us.”

Roper said chancellors will have “flexibility” in determining local precautions to keep students, staff and faculty safe. He said local steps to a solution could include smaller class sizes and housing capacities, along with shortened or staggered academic years. 

Roper said while the UNC System plans on re-opening all 17 campuses, it will be in correspondence with experts at UNC Health and Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. He also said the system will “coordinate operations with Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive orders.”

“Our efforts to mitigate the pandemic’s threat have been successful because our actions in March were swift and comprehensive. The continued success of our effort now depends on approaching our next moves forward with caution, optimism, and precision,” Roper said.