Graduation caps thrown into air college commencement generic

North Carolina's two largest public universities will start their fall semesters two weeks early and end before Thanksgiving.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Thursday that N.C. State University and UNC-Chapel Hill both will start classes Aug. 10 — about two weeks earlier than scheduled — because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Both universities have canceled fall break, which was scheduled for mid-October. And both schools plan to finish fall semester classes and exams before Thanksgiving so students won't have to return to campus after the November break. That change could help both schools stay ahead of a predicted second wave of COVID-19 that could sweep through the state in late fall or early winter.

UNC-CH and N.C. State both said they would announce plans for winter commencements at later dates. Both graduation ceremonies had been scheduled for December.

N.C. State announced its fall semester plans in a letter from Chancellor Randy Woodson, who promised more details about campus operations later.

UNC-CH Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz, in a memo Thursday to students and employees, said that class sizes will be smaller, time between classes will be extended, building traffic will be one way and everyone on campus will be asked to wear masks and practice social distancing. A website with more details will be launched next week.

The announcements by UNC-CH and N.C. State came three days after N.C. A&T and UNCG announced similar plans to keep students from returning to campus after Thanksgiving.

The two Greensboro universities will start classes on their previously announced dates, but both schools canceled fall break and plan to end classes the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Final exams at A&T and UNCG will be given after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Contact John Newsom at (336) 373-7312 and follow @JohnNewsomNR on Twitter.​

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