Sunday, March 26, 2023

Update: UNCW dorms will go single-occupancy, relocating students as Covid-19 cases double in a week

University of North Carolina Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo / BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)
University of North Carolina Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo / File)

Update 12:30 p.m. — UNCW confirmed the move to single-occupancy only housing. The University noted that roughly 800 students would be impacted.

UNCW did not directly answer whether or not it had sufficient housing to accommodate all 800 displaced students. However, according to Peter Groenendyk, director of Housing and Residence Life, the University anticipates that there will be space for all students who wish to remain on campus.

“We do not anticipate that we will need that many spaces, as a number of students will request to go home for the semester,” Groenendyk said.

According to UNCW, students who are currently living on campus will not be permitted to move to off-campus housing unless they will be residing with parents or guardians.” 

UNCW issued a statement, which reads in part:

The Health Department approached UNCW because 18-to-24-year-olds represent the largest source of new COVID-19 cases in the county. With the support of the Health Department, the university is taking this voluntary additional action to further de-densify campus by reducing the number of students in shared spaces, which makes it easier to socially distance in campus housing.   

We intend to make this transition as smooth as possible for the students involved. Of the 3,600 students living on campus, 1,900 already live in single-occupancy rooms. Residence Life will work closely with about 800 students who will be affected by the move.  

UNCW, in cooperation with the New Hanover County Health Department, is taking additional decisive action to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 among the 18- to-24-year-old population. Starting today, Housing and Residence Life staff are reaching out to first-year students living on campus with a roommate about arranging for one of the roommates to move to an open single-occupancy room. The new assignment will likely be in another residence hall or UNCW apartment, and this will be their assignment for the remainder of the academic year.  

Students who are moved to a more expensive space will not be required to pay more. Students who are moved to a less expensive space will receive a pro-rated refund.  

Students who are asked to move may opt to return home if they choose, and they will receive pro-rated refunds for housing and dining for the remainder of the fall semester. If both roommates want to move home, they may do so, and both will receive pro-rated refunds. Students who move home will also receive parking refunds.  

As part of this arrangement, upon the recommendation of the New Hanover County Health Department, students who are currently living on campus will not be permitted to move to off-campus housing unless they will be residing with parents or guardians.  

Working in collaboration with Provost James Winebrake, we are asking faculty to assist in the transition by offering some flexibility in class attendance to students who are asked to change housing assignments. 

WILMINGTON — According to The Seahawk, UNCW’s student-run newspaper, the University is expected to notify students of a decision to mandate single-occupancy only in its dormitories, leaving roommates to decide who leaves and who stays — or face a randomized decision from the school.

Related: On-campus dorms to become single occupancy due to COVID-19 concerns (The Seahawk)

On Sunday, September 7, The Seahawk News Editor Veronica Wernicke wrote that on Tuesday students would get the official news from UNCW. The Seahawk cites a freshman student who stated the decision will likely have to be made by Thursday, September 10. Roommates in double occupancy rooms who cannot decide will have the decision made for them, according to The Seahawk.

UNCW has not yet confirmed this information, however, several other students in residence halls have contacted Port City Daily, describing the same scenario. This article will be updated with information from UNCW when it becomes available.

UNCW does keep track of Covid-19 cases and other data on its online dashboard. As of early Tuesday morning, there were over 230 student cases, more than double the number from September 1. UNCW is currently using roughly 39% of its quarantine bed space, up from 28% last week. Since reopening, the University has identified Covid-19 clusters in five residence halls.

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