CCAC Recommendations: 3

Background

The Campus and Community Advisory Committee (CCAC) has convened five times and wishes to convey our third set of recommendations. We convey these recommendations with the following caveats:

  1. These recommendations rest on the assumption that a robust testing and contact tracing system is in effect that includes re-entry and surveillance testing of students living in both on-campus and off-campus housing.
  2. The Community Standards and Health Behavior efforts are substantially enhanced from what they were in August at the start of the fall semester.
  3. 500 beds will be available for isolation and quarantine.
  4. A community positivity rate or other appropriate metric is specified in conjunction with the Orange County Health Department. The metric will be considered on a particular date to be determined by the RIT working group on infectious disease/testing/and tracing. If the metric is exceeded, then students will not return to campus in greater numbers than are currently on campus and/or their return will be delayed, or remote only instruction will be implemented until the metric is met.
  5. Students will not be asked to return home once they arrive.
  6. Students and parents must be fully notified of all potential scenarios so that they can make fully informed decisions about housing and/or returning to the Chapel Hill community.

Housing

The committee was briefed by Allan Blattner, Executive Director of Carolina Housing and Jonathan Sauls, Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs on campus density options. The committee was asked to provide consultation on two questions. First, to what extent, if at all, can we expand the number of students living on campus in the spring? Second, how should students be prioritized for housing consideration if additional students are invited to return to living on campus?

Currently there are approximately 1500 undergraduate and graduate students living on campus. Four options were considered in the context of the above stated assumptions. All of these options assume single occupancy only although some are single occupancy in suites which means more than one person in a bathroom. Likewise, those not in suites and single rooms on halls are also sharing bathrooms.

  • Option 1 allows only students currently living on campus, to live on campus in the spring. (n=1500)
  • Option 2 raises the number of students living on campus to a cap of 3100 students. (Currently 14 buildings that are now closed remain closed and all 3100 students are housed in the existing open buildings.)
  • Option 3 uses the 3100 initial target but would allow occupancy to flex up to 3900 if there were additional demand from students in hardship or special circumstances. (As occupancy flexes above 3100 students, currently closed dorms begin to open to accommodate additional students in the single occupancy framework.)
  • Option 4 is to allow housing on campus up to 3900 students regardless of hardships or special circumstances. (Fourteen buildings that are currently closed are open and all 3900 students are housed in all buildings.)

Most committee members preferred options 3 (n=17) or 4 (n=8). No one preferred option 2 and one committee member preferred option 1. (There is concern about students sharing bathrooms in all of the options and a corresponding recognition that students are sharing bathrooms now both on campus and off.)

Further, it was explained that when the dorms were initially “de-densified” to approximately 60% occupancy at the start of the fall semester, those students were promised first choice of spring housing. If that is a binding promise, the committee felt that students with hardships or special circumstances should receive first priority. However, the committee recommends that a special category of “extreme” circumstances be added prioritized, even if a student did not have a housing contract for the fall semester. Students who are effectively homeless, food insecure, or in some other extreme circumstance should be prioritized over all others.

Finally, the committee asks that special and detailed consideration be given to dining options that promote social distancing in winter weather. Outdoor dining which was a possibility in the summer and fall semesters, will not be available for much of the spring semester. Since dining is the time when masks are off, a detailed plan must be put in place. We understand such plans are in progress. As a committee, we would like to be briefed on dining plans as they take shape.