Update from Appalachian State University — week of April 12–16

Friday, April 16, 2021

As we enter the final weeks of the spring semester, I continue to be impressed by and incredibly proud of our students, faculty and staff. Each day, you demonstrate academic and professional excellence in the face of extraordinary challenges presented by this global pandemic.

We are making a difference in the urgently important work of mitigating the COVID-19 virus. Our schedule of mitigation efforts, which includes COVID-19 testing events and COVID-19 vaccine clinics, has intensified. Each week this semester, we have held at least two major testing events, and since mid-March, we have held at least one vaccine clinic per week. This incredible work is powered by the staffing and expertise of our own App State staff, students and faculty.

  • To date, we have conducted more than 55,000 COVID-19 tests during our surveillance testing events, targeted testing in residence halls and with other student populations, and in our student health center. This week’s testing data show a positivity rate of less than 1% of the 780 COVID-19 tests conducted so far. Our positivity rate remains considerably lower than the state’s latest positivity rate of 5.5% reported by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

  • The addition of regular wastewater testing for our residence halls has been led by Dr. Ece Karatan, vice provost for research; Dr. Alex F. Howard, interim assistant vice chancellor in the Division of Student Affairs and director of Wellness and Prevention Services; Dr. Jenna Valley, lab supervisor for molecular and microbiology in the Department of Biology; and Jason Marshburn, director of environmental health, safety and emergency management. This early detection method allows us to respond quickly with targeted testing and contact tracing, helping reduce the spread of the virus.

  • To date, our student and faculty nurses and Student Health Services team have administered 3,965 COVID-19 vaccines. This week, we administered the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at our clinic, and we will administer the Moderna vaccine again at our next clinic on Thursday, April 22. Our vaccine clinic is part of North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan for rural areas and is open to anyone in North Carolina age 18 and over. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is vital to returning to more normal operations, and the full return to campus for the fall 2021 semester. Please be sure to take advantage of these free opportunities to get your shot.

  • Monday’s update to our dashboard will report this week’s testing and vaccine data.

At Staff Senate’s meeting earlier this week, I was energized by their ideas for getting our community vaccinated, preparing for our full return to campus in the fall and strategically planning for our university’s future. This group is enthusiastic and results-oriented, and I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss our institutional priorities with them.

As we continue to showcase and celebrate the faculty and staff who make the Appalachian Experience so meaningful for our students, I encourage you to read this profile of Lynn Patterson, who coordinates the scholarship program for our University Libraries, in addition to managing the libraries’ communications, outreach, social media, event planning and donor relations. For 30 years, Lynn has prioritized students and helped make our university a welcoming community.

I am also excited to share that our Child Development Center earned the highest possible reaccreditation license from the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education — a reflection of our university’s commitment to support our youngest Mountaineers and their families. Congratulations to the center’s director, Moriah Stegall, and her team for achieving this gold standard of excellence as they prepare to welcome additional families to the center in the fall.

I extend my sincere thanks to these individuals and everyone in the Appalachian Community for continuing to elevate our institution while prioritizing the health and safety of our community. We are so very fortunate to work and learn side by side with expert faculty, visionary staff and outstanding students.


Sheri Everts, Chancellor