Coronavirus Student and parent frequently asked questions

What is Novel Coronavirus?

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a new respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Learn about 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (“community spread”) in some affected geographic areas. Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses.

Who is at higher risk for contracting COVID-19? What should I do if I’m at higher risk?

Based on information from the CDC, early information out of China, where COVID-19 first started, shows that some people are at higher risk of getting very sick from this illness. This includes:

  • Older adults
  • People who are immunosuppressed.
  • People who have serious chronic medical conditions like:
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Lung disease

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 //www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html

How can I best protect myself?

The CDC recommends following the same guidelines as flu prevention:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What should I do if I'm sick?

Anyone who has returned from an affected region within the past 14 days and is sick with fever and a cough, or is having difficulty breathing, should seek medical care immediately and call ahead to the doctor’s office to inform them of recent travel and symptoms.

Immediately contact Campus Health at 919-966-6603 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or 919-966-6573 (Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). To make arrangements for classwork and other academic obligations, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at odos@unc.edu or 919-966-4042.

What is Carolina doing to prevent the spread of illness on campus?

The University’s  Communicable Diseases Working Group is prepared to respond to prevent the spread of any infectious disease. That group, along with the Office of the Vice Provost for Global Affairs, is closely monitoring updates on the situation from the Centers for Disease Control and is using their guidance and recommendations to inform our own campus response. We work closely with local and state officials, Carolina’s Environment, Health and Safety office, and UNC Hospitals to help address communicable diseases and help keep our students, faculty, staff and University community safe and healthy.

I feel anxious about the possibility of exposure from people who I think may have been exposed. How can I find help?

It is understandable to feel uncertain or anxious during a public health crisis. It is important to remember to not make assumptions about others’ perceived symptoms, travel history or identity. Students struggling with anxiety can contact Counseling and Psychological Services: 919-966-3658 (24/7). The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a resource available to help employees through stressful situations and events.

As a community, we understand there are diverse needs of students, faculty and staff. Individuals with chronic medical conditions may have concerns about their health during this time of uncertainty. Please contact your primary care provider if you have any questions or concerns about your particular situation. Besides taking the usual hand/respiratory hygiene precautions and social distancing, the CDC has additional advice to help keep you healthy and safe.

How can I report an anonymous health and safety concern to the University?

Anyone who has concerns about their immediate health or safety should call 911. Anyone who has returned from an affected region within the past 14 days and is sick with fever and a cough, or is having difficulty breathing, should seek medical care immediately and call ahead to the doctor’s office to inform them of recent travel and symptoms.

Other incidents or concerns can be reported using the Carolina Ethics Line at 866-294-8688.

What should I do if I witness or experience harassment or discrimination due to the coronavirus?

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to fostering an environment of diversity, equity and inclusion. While the spread of disease may cause fear and uncertainty, we reject xenophobia and any speech or action that would be discriminatory toward any member of our campus community. It is wrong to assume that because of someone’s perceived country or region of origin that they have come in contact with or have contracted the new coronavirus. If you or someone you know has experienced discrimination or harassment, contact the University’s Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office.

What does it mean that spring break is extended?  

There will be no academic instruction offered the week of March 16. We strongly encourage undergraduate students to remain off campus that week, but residence and dinning halls will be open. 

How will classes resume after March 23?  

Starting March 23, the majority of class offerings will be offered remotely and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. We will transition as many classes as possible, understanding there may be some small classes, such as labs, that require in-person attendance. We will work with deans and department chairs to determine which classes meet the criteria and are necessary to be taught in person. Faculty and teaching assistants will hear from the provost’s office soon regarding the resources on Keep Teaching that will be made available. 

I am a student or employee at the School of Medicine, Pharmacy or Dentistry. What does this mean for me?

These schools may have different operating schedules or class requirements. Refer back to any communication you have received from the school, or work with your professor or dean for information.

If I’m remaining off campus, will I be reimbursed for my housing or meal plan?

A return to normalcy is the University’s goal, but it is impossible to predict, thus we recognize the choice to move out of your residence hall or cancel your meal plan early is a difficult one. We recommend that you not cancel yet but wait until you hear from your professors about your academic instruction moving forward. If you decide to move out early and remain off campus for the remainder of the semester, please email housing@unc.edu. Once this is processed, we will communicate further information and instructions, including details about collecting your belonging and financial implications.

How is the University working with affected students financially?

The University will work with students individually to determine what program costs can be recouped and how financial aid may be recalculated.

What if I can’t go home?

We recognize that some students will need to return to campus so campus will be open, including residence and dining halls, libraries and Campus Health. If you are able to take all of your classes remotely, we strongly encourage you to remain off campus until further notice.

What if my home is on campus (i.e. Baity Hill?)

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What if I left something in my residence hall that I need to retrieve

If you checked out of your residence hall for spring break, contact your community director for guidance. If you did not check out of your residence hall for spring break, you may return to retrieve your items but please limit your time on campus as much as possible.

How are we cleaning and disinfecting campus?

All shifts of Housekeeping Services staff are wiping all surfaces with disinfectants that are effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria and are virucidal. These products have been used previously on campus for other viruses including coronavirus and are EPA registered.

Our housekeeping staff are provided with training regarding the appropriate and effective use of these disinfectant products. Staff are also provided with PPE (gloves, eye protection) as appropriate for their job duties and products used.

Are campus events canceled?

Campus events for more than 50 attendees are canceled. Organizers of these events must postpone, cancel or explore virtual options for any University-affiliated events with more than 50 people both on- and off-campus until further notice, unless prior written authorization is given by the chancellor or the provost. 

What about athletics events?

Carolina’s Athletics will immediately suspend athletic-related activities including all competition, formal and organized practice, recruiting and participation in NCAA championships until further notice in accordance with the Atlantic Coast Conference’s decision.

Has Commencement been canceled?

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commencement.unc.edu

Is summer school impacted?

We are moving forward with summer school registration at this point. Summer School registration begins March 16-17. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as they become available.

Which countries are affected by the recent presidential proclamation?

These countries, known as the Schengen Area, include Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, which includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Additionally, the CDC now classifies all these countries as Level 3 countries due to the transmission of respiratory illness caused by COVID-19. The CDC has also added Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City to the list of Level 3 countries.

I am currently studying abroad during the spring 2020 term in a restricted country. What do I need to do?

UNC-Chapel Hill strongly recommends that students currently studying abroad in one of the above countries return to the U.S. as soon as reasonably possible. Due to the campus decision to shift to primarily remote courses after spring break, students should return home and not to campus.

All travelers returning from the specified countries must stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing.

Students should also contact their study abroad advisor to inform them of travel plans.

I am returning from study abroad. Do I qualify for insurance?

Students who were enrolled in Blue Cross Blue Shield GeoBlue travel health insurance are eligible to enroll in the U.S.-based StudentBlue Plan. Loss of GeoBlue is considered a qualifying life event to obtain StudentBlue. Students have 30 days from the day their GeoBlue coverage ends to elect coverage in StudentBlue. Coverage is retroactive to the date after the loss of GeoBlue and will be activated once the prorated premium payment is made.

StudentBlue does cover coronavirus testing at 100% and does not require prior approval. However, doctor visits to screen for COVID-19 will be covered the same as any other doctor visit, subject to the applicable copay, deductible or coinsurance. Student Blue members will also have access to telehealth services through MDlive. To begin your application, contact Vicki Warwick, vwarwick@email.unc.edu, and include your name, PID, date of birth and date that you are canceling GeoBlue.

Since I have to return home, how will I continue my academic program?

Students should pursue available remote options with their study abroad provider or host university.

Academic Advising can help students determine available options for continuation of their academic program. Please contact Lora Wical (wical@email.unc.edu) or Andrea Caldwell (andreac@email.unc.edu).

I am currently studying abroad in spring 2020 in a non-restricted country (nor another country designated as Level 2 or 3 due to COVID-19). What do I need to do?

Students currently studying abroad in a country not on this list should stay informed of UNC-Chapel Hill guidelines regarding study abroad and travel and regularly check their UNC-Chapel Hill email accounts. If at any time their study abroad program is terminated, either by UNC-Chapel Hill or the host university, Carolina will contact them and their emergency contacts by email. We recommend that students initiate conversations with their study abroad programs to determine if remote instruction may be available in the event of program termination.

If my provider or host university does not provide an online program, what are my options?

It may take the University additional time to understand and communicate information with you regarding academic credit and program expenses.

What if there are extenuating circumstances that prevent me from returning to a safe place off-campus in the U.S.?

Contact the Office of the Dean of Students for assistance: odos@unc.edu,919-966-4042
Office Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

How does this affect my summer study abroad program?

All summer 2020 study abroad and international education programs are canceled. This includes undergraduate, graduate and professional programs.

Where can I find the latest information on coronavirus and its impact at Carolina?

Check the CDC website for the most recent updates on the virus and confirmed cases across the world.

When will things return to normal?

There is no set end date to this new arrangement. We will constantly revisit and reevaluate this policy if the situation around COVID-19 changes. Our hope is that we, like so many communities, can return to normalcy soon, but we must plan for digital operations through the remainder of the semester, if necessary. For more resources on studying and working remotely, please visit //its.unc.edu/workremote.