UNCW leaders: No plan to shut down university, graduation plans being discussed

UNCW holds online news conference regarding coronavirus Photo: WWAY

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Despite growing concerns about the coronavirus, UNCW’s chancellor says there are no plans to shut down the university right now.

On Monday morning, university leaders gave an update on how they’re planning to move forward as the illness continues to spread.

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Spring break was extended a week and students will resume class on the 23rd.

The majority of classes will shift to online, with the exception of just a few classes. Sartarellis said UNCW expects to make a decision about graduation in the next few weeks.

Doctor Charles Hardy with Academic Affairs says they are working to make sure none of the changes affect students’ ability to graduate.

“It may in some type of virtual format,” Hardy said. “We’re going to try the best we can with all the clinicals, field work or, if you will, hands-on, to give the students an alternative experience that would make the student learning outcomes that we’re committed to.”

If students on campus contract COVID-19, Chancellor Jose Sartarelli says the school could not accommodate a number of cases.

“We could accommodate a few people and take of them, but if in fact we have more than a few people, we’re going to basically recommend they go home,” Sartarelli said. “Or if it’s more critical, it may be recommended they go to the hospital.”

Sartarelli says online classes is a big help with social distancing efforts, but it will be more of a challenge in the dorm rooms.

However, students are not the only ones on campus. There’s concern for staff members who still have to work.

There has been talk about those people with underlying health conditions or who do not have childcare.

Elaine Doell with UNCW Human Resources, says employees have the option to telework.

“They work with their supervisors to put the necessary steps in place to do that,” Doell said. “There are multiple options in terms of the remote working that are being worked on right now.”

Leaders say they have a telework policy in place but will try to be understanding and compassionate for people’s needs at this time.

As of now, the 25 basketball players and UNCW staff members who are under quarantine have shown no symptoms, nor had an elevated fever.

Athletic Director Jimmy Bass said their quarantine ends Saturday, which is two weeks after the CAA Tournament game that an official worked and later tested positive for coronavirus.