Update from Appalachian State University — week of Jan. 11–15
As we finalize preparations to begin classes on Tuesday, I am mindful that it has been 362 days since our university began planning discussions around COVID-19. We can reflect with pride on the distance we have come in the past year. UNC System President Peter Hans recently lauded the collective efforts of UNC System universities, writing, “Thanks to dedicated work by faculty, staff, and health officials, hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians have continued making progress toward their educational goals.” His insights are particularly true at App State, where our faculty and staff have gone above and beyond.
Across our campus, faculty and staff have been assisting students with the delayed return to campus, ensuring all safety precautions remain in place, reviewing and enhancing our COVID-19 testing strategy and planning, and preparing for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
We continue to review key data and make informed decisions to keep the safety of the Appalachian Community at the forefront, working to preserve and continually elevate the Appalachian Experience we all value. As we remain watchful of the availability of local and regional medical resources, as well as of local and state positivity rates, I appreciate your continued commitment to this critical work.
- Our surveillance testing events continue to be well attended. This week, we conducted 871 COVID-19 tests with 19 positive results, or 2.18%.
- We continue to provide isolation/quarantine support to students who need it throughout the winter break, and we are using 4% of our isolation/quarantine inventory at the present time.
- We are in the process of distributing five new face coverings to every student, faculty and staff member. The new designs feature adjustable ear loops and three-ply construction. Our students’ adoption rate of wearing face coverings on campus has been nearly universal. I am most appreciative of everyone’s vigilance, and I expect we will show the same respect for one another in the new semester.
I am very pleased that App State has submitted an application to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to be a community-facing COVID-19 vaccination distribution center. If approved, we will assist with North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan for rural areas by administering COVID-19 vaccines to community members — as well as to students, faculty and staff — once vaccine allotments are provided.
- Vaccine distribution is managed by public health. AppHealthCare, our local public health department, is leading the vaccination distribution plans in our county, and they have developed a form for those who wish to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to complete.
- More information about our university’s role in the COVID-19 vaccination planning is available on this new COVID-19 vaccine page of the university’s coronavirus website. We expect to have additional updates to share in the coming days, which we will add to the website and send to campus via email.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Mountaineers have worked diligently to support our university and communities in the region, and they are making significant differences in the daily lives of the citizens of our state:
- Our Small Business and Technology Development Center helped North Carolina small businesses respond to new challenges while managing four times its normal caseload of clients.
- A regional North Carolina business owned by two App State alumni donated more than 2,000 face coverings to App State’s Academy at Middle Fork to help keep our students and staff at the academy safe.
My sincere thanks to all those who show each day that Mountaineer resilience is alive and well — and who prove our university will emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever before.
Sheri Everts, Chancellor