Update from Appalachian State University — week of Oct. 26–30

Friday, October 30, 2020

This week, the data show five consecutive days with less than 30 active COVID-19 cases on App State’s campus — for the first time since before the start of the fall semester. This milestone is a testament to the commitment of our faculty, staff and students to slowing the spread of this virus.

  • Since students moved in the week of Aug. 10, we have conducted more than 19,000 COVID-19 tests on campus.
  • We currently have 29 active cases, all of whom are recovering in isolation off campus.
  • So far this week, we have conducted 1,308 tests, with 15 positive cases, or a rate of 1.1%. On Monday, we will report testing data for the week on the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. Today’s operations update will include more key metrics.

Our campus community is committed to protecting one other, and dedicated to following safety precautions. Now is when it is most critical we remain vigilant. I appreciate how many of you have helped to reiterate this message, which was also shared by Charlotte media this week.

I am proud of the leadership of our students in encouraging others to follow all safety precautions related to COVID-19 — from Wellness Ambassadors, to the App State vs. COVID campaign, to public service announcements by the Student Government Association.

Our faculty continue to accommodate students’ needs as we plan for spring semester with a mix of face-to-face, hybrid and remote course delivery methods. I appreciate the individualized approach they provide to our students always, and particularly throughout this pandemic, as they look holistically at each student’s circumstances and help them find the best solutions.

Our staff continue to go above and beyond, remaining flexible and responding to the changing needs of our students and faculty. I would like to especially thank the staff who were reassigned when we had to close some of our Campus Dining facilities due to decreased demand. These staff are currently assisting with COVID-19 response efforts, delivering COVID-19 related supplies to campus units, helping with testing site logistics, and providing courier services for students in quarantine by delivering food, hygiene items, laundry and medication as well as class assignments. For those departments that face the possibility of reducing staff hours due to COVID-19 challenges, we will continue to employ every option to keep our staff working in other areas of the university.

I want to be clear: we are fighting a long fight, and we cannot claim success, but the science and the data tell us we can flatten the curve if we remain attentive and keep caution at the forefront of our decision-making.

  • Wearing face coverings makes a difference — as does physical distancing and washing hands (or using hand sanitizer) frequently. When you are around others who are not in the household you are living in, wear your face covering. At the beginning of the fall semester, we distributed three washable, reusable face coverings to every student, faculty and staff member. If you need a new face covering, you can request one through the Cloth Face Covering Replacement Request Form. Next semester, students, faculty and staff will each receive five new face coverings.
  • Group gatherings must remain small and safe. Keep face coverings on. As much as possible, gather outdoors and maintain distance. As we head into Halloween weekend — with an App State football away game also scheduled for Saturday afternoon — Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs J.J. Brown shared terrific reminders and resources with students about how to have fun while keeping safety in mind.
  • Take advantage of COVID-19 testing. On-campus, we will continue to offer walk-up or drive-up COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Local public health is also conducting targeted testing events at our residence halls and some local apartment complexes free of charge.
  • Start planning for the holidays. We will share guidance about COVID-19 prevention strategies for the holidays and winter break soon. In the meantime, it’s good to familiarize ourselves with the guidance on social gatherings developed by the North Carolina Department of Health & Human Services and the holiday celebrations guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While there is less face-to-face and on-campus activity this semester, daily Mountaineer life continues — we are still teaching, learning, researching, participating in activities, elevating our work, connecting with other Mountaineers and moving ever forward. Here are a few recent examples:

  • App State received recognition in Forbes as one of 19 universities selected to join an ongoing project aimed at developing more inclusive faculty recruitment, hiring and retention in STEM disciplines.
  • This fall we welcomed nearly 200 students in our first class from Appalachian GEAR UP, a federally funded college access program. For more than five years, we have partnered with 11 school districts in Western North Carolina to provide academic support, college visits and programming for GEAR UP — staying true to our mission of providing access to education for students in our region and beyond.
  • The experts in Belk Library and Information Commons’ Special Collections Research Center are helping preserve the history of App State as well as the history of Appalachia. A recent video and photo essay highlight some of the most interesting items in the collection.
  • Thank you for your commitment to helping slow the spread of COVID-19 and for your continued dedication to excellence under any circumstances.

    Sheri Everts, Chancellor