Shannon Watkins of the Martin Center devotes her latest column to N.C. colleges’ reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors met in special session by conference call. After UNC system president William Roper gave his report, board member Marty Kotis asked him three questions about the virus’ impact on the campuses.

One of Kotis’ questions concerned how students’ lives were being “upended” by having to swiftly move off-campus. Students were notified on Tuesday that they had to move out by Saturday—with only some students being granted exemptions to remain in campus housing. It is estimated that only about 10 percent of students remain on each UNC campus.

“Have we addressed the residential tenants’ legal rights?” Kotis asked. He inquired whether students would get a refund for their meal and housing expenses. He noted that many students will need a refund because many depend on the jobs they have on campus and may have to pay additional housing and food expenses elsewhere. …

… After the board’s meeting, Roper and board chairman Randy Ramsey conducted a conference call with the media. Roper said that he was “delighted” that the board decided to table capital projects, as it gives the system time to determine what the immediate financial and resource needs will be in the coming weeks.

Other items discussed:

Will UNC schools switch to pass/fail grades?

Roper told the Martin Center that the system has not yet decided whether to go to a pass/fail grading system or whether it would be an option. He said that academic affairs staff, as well as provosts and deans, are discussing the possibility. “We should have that [decision] shortly,” he said.