Update from Appalachian State University — week of Feb. 22–26
We had a taste of spring on campus this week, and the positive energy on campus was palpable.
Consistent adherence to safety precautions makes a difference. We have conducted more than 13,000 COVID-19 tests so far this year, and our weekly positive case count has not exceeded 3.3%. So far this week, we have conducted 1,429 COVID-19 tests with 34 positive results, or just under 2.4%. Our campus positivity rate remains significantly lower than the state’s latest reported rate of 4.7%. As a reminder, Monday’s update to our coronavirus dashboard will include this data, as well as the data from this weekend’s testing.
I am thrilled to share App State’s application to become a community distribution center for COVID-19 vaccines has been approved by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. We anticipate beginning vaccine clinics in March, according to the state guidelines for the categories by which groups are prioritized for vaccination. Currently, North Carolina is vaccinating Groups 1 and 2, as well as Group 3 frontline essential workers who work in child care or in pre-K-12 schools. On March 10, Group 3 frontline essential workers will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
- College and university faculty and staff who are working in person at their work site are included in the group that is eligible to receive the vaccine beginning March 10.
- All other university personnel who are not prioritized into other groups (for reasons such as age or health care worker status, for example) are in Group 4.
- Students who are not prioritized into other groups are in Group 5.
- You will receive an email from the university when it is time for you to schedule your vaccine appointment.
More information about the state vaccine prioritization system may be found here, and we will continue updating our university’s COVID-19 vaccination webpage with additional information, as well as providing more specifics in our weekly COVID-19 updates.
I would like you to join me in thanking Jason Marshburn, Margaret Bumgarner, Dr. Alex Howard and their teams in Emergency Management, Student Health Service and Wellness and Prevention Services, who have been preparing and planning logistics for vaccine distribution for many months, as well as Vice Chancellor Hank Foreman, who has been working closely with the UNC System Office on the application and approval process. I also know I speak for the entire campus when I thank President Hans and his leadership team at the UNC System Office for their assistance and advocacy with the application and approval process.
Gov. Cooper’s new executive order eases some restrictions on public gatherings. Notably, his new order, which is now in effect, increases capacity limits for indoor and outdoor venues. Additional details are being provided by App State Athletics about what this means for App State sporting events. Please know, we are also working hard to determine the best option for celebrating spring commencement. We are reviewing the details carefully and consulting with public health experts to help inform our decisions with as much data as possible. This is a monumental moment in the academic lives of our students and their families, and we will share information about spring commencement plans soon.
Each day, our faculty and staff continue important work designed to address the current and future needs of our campus community.
- The Office of Disability Resources continues to provide members of the Appalachian Community with access to essential resources. This work is especially critical given the significant shift to virtual learning and events throughout the pandemic, and the associated increase in awareness of and demand for accessibility and accommodations. Many thanks to the Office of Disability Resources team for their advocacy and support of these important initiatives.
- I, along with my cabinet members, attended a meeting of the Diversity and Inclusion Accountability Team yesterday, during which staff from App State Athletics — including Athletics Director Doug Gillin, Director of Student-Athlete Development Pierre Banks, and Senior Associate Athletics Director Makini Thompson — presented action plans for education, retention and mentorship of Black student-athletes, as well as progress made regarding hiring and supporting athletic coaches, staff and trainers of color.
- March 4 is our eighth annual iBackAPP Day, a 24-hour day of giving where Mountaineers everywhere come together to support and celebrate App State. I invite you to participate in whatever way you choose: by making a gift to support an initiative you care about, including the Mountaineer Emergency Fund, by wearing your black and gold or by sharing your love for App State with your friends and family.
During a virtual visit to App State's Academy at Middle Fork this week, I had the pleasure of reading “How to Read a Book” by Kwame Alexander to the academy’s K–5 students. Afterward, as I listened to the students recite their Mountaineer Pledge, which includes, “I’m a Mountaineer … I show honesty, integrity, kindness and excellence in all that I do,” I was reminded of what makes the connections among Mountaineers so meaningful, no matter where we are.
We have remained connected throughout a year defined by distance, which makes the news of our upcoming COVID-19 vaccine clinics all the more exciting. This news, coupled with the coming of spring, brings hope for better times to come — evidenced this week through the enthusiasm of our young Mountaineers at the academy and the optimism of our students as they enjoyed a hint of warm weather on Sanford Mall.
Sheri Everts, Chancellor