N.C. A&T prepares for coronavirus; Gov. Cooper declares state of emergency


Photo courtesy of CDC on Unsplash

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.

Zila Sanchez, Editor-in-Chief

UPDATE: Wednesday March 11, 2020

The University of North Carolina system’s Coronavirus Coordinating Group has decided that all schools within the UNC system, including N.C. A&T will end in-person classes by March 20 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“Our goal is to return to in-person instruction as soon as reasonably possible. Each institution will communicate the specific details to its students and faculty,” the system said in a release.

Online courses will begin on March 23, and will continue indefinitely, according to the press release, university leadership will determine if classes, such as those with labs, will continue to require students show up for in-person instruction.

All events of 100 or more people will be cancelled or postponed unless authorized by a chancellor or provost. University-sponsored in-state travel to gatherings of 100 or more people are also suspended, and all travel outside the state is suspended unless authorized by a chancellor or provost. 

N.C. A&T has not issued any statements regarding the guidance issued by the UNC system Wednesday.

N.C. A&T is responding to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that
originated in Wuhan, China. The virus has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including in the United States, prompting the declaration of a public health emergency.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Tuesday as leaders continue to deal with the coronavirus.

The state now has seven people who have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Over Spring Break, faculty, staff and students were advised to exercise appropriate caution and take preventative measures to keep everyone healthy, per a University Relations memorandum.

N.C. A&T has also issued a travel advisory to the Aggie community and developed a new coronavirus information website in advance to any potential threat.

Some students say they do not think classes should have resumed following Spring Break as many students traveled out of the state or country. Other students say professors should forgo attendance policies until after the health emergency passes.

There has been speculation about the implementation of strictly online classes for the remainder of the semester if the threat of illness becomes more serious. However, nothing has been officially confirmed. For now, university administrators seem to be taking a “wait-and-see” approach in that regard.

With regard to university procedures, however, the university’s leadership is meeting and discussing the matter daily, according to Todd Simmons, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations. The university’s coronavirus web page is also being updated daily.

The complete understanding of COVID-19 is not entirely known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild — including some with no reported symptoms — to severe, resulting in death. 

While it seems most COVID-19 illness is mild, a report out of China estimates serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people of all ages with severe underlying health conditions seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.

Our most important duty is to continue to encourage students, faculty and staff – especially those who may have traveled for Spring Break – to follow preventive measures regarding COVID-19,” Simmons said.

Recommendations to stay healthy:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or 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
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as countertops, phones, keyboards, laptops, doorknobs and bathroom fixtures
  • Get the flu shot

This is an evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.