CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Faculty, staff and students from all over the state have rallied behind a petition that calls on the UNC Board of Governors to move classes at all universities within the UNC system online.
More than 1,300 people have signed the petition. It also calls for routine COVID-19 testing on campus, more rigorous contact tracing, and more transparency between the UNC system, faculty, students, and staff.
This comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina remains high. Another 1,827 new cases were reported on Monday.
Maria DeGuzman is a distinguished professor of English and comparative literature at UNC-Chapel Hill. DeGuzman is in support of the petition as she said it is best for students to stay out of the classroom until the number of COVID-19 cases declines.
“Why would we put ourselves at risk if we can do things more cautiously and save lives?” DeGuzman said.
Even though officials at UNC-Chapel Hill are requiring students wear face masks, DeGuzman said having in-person classes is still putting students and faculty at risk as there are now concerns about the virus being airborne.
“We simply cannot afford to lose human lives in the way that we’ve seen human life being lost,” DeGuzman said.
Collie Fulford is an English professor at North Carolina Central University and she also signed the petition, even though she will miss not seeing her students in class.
“I would love to have a vibrant, in-class experience,” Fulford said. “But, I really do believe it is my obligation to them to preserve their health and well-being.”
Petition organizers said they sent a letter about their concerns to chancellors and provosts in the UNC System who had faculty that signed the petition.
CBS 17 reached out to UNC System officials to see if they plan to move classes online this upcoming semester. Josh Ellis, Associate Vice President for Media Relations, sent the following statement in regards to these faculty members’ concerns:
“The UNC System is prioritizing the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff above all other considerations. We are taking the necessary precautions to ensure our campuses are safe spaces to teach, study, live, and work. No one can accurately predict what this pandemic will have in store for us in the coming months but our institutions will be ready and prepared for the full range of potential impacts.”