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App State Announces COVID-19 Updates After Passing Halfway Point of Fall Semester

By Harley Nefe

Appalachian State University has passed the halfway point of the fall semester, as the last day of classes is Nov. 24 before Thanksgiving Break. App State has been one of the largest UNC system universities to still hold in-person classes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

University personnel sent out COVID-19 updates on Oct. 11 discussing how operations have been going.

In the announcement, App State personnel said Academic Affairs has been working with each student individually who has requested to move to all-remote instruction. Currently, 20% of courses are being taught face-to-face, 32% are being taught hybrid and 48% are being taught all-remote.

Another update is that University Housing is offering the choice to opt out of housing contracts to all residential students who are moving back to their permanent residences. 

For students who still live on campus, there are residence hall restrictions, which include no guests are permitted in the buildings, and only room occupants are allowed in each room.

The current residence hall capacity is at 84% being in use.

Additionally, current contact tracing information indicates infections are contained to the student body, and data does not indicate a burden on the local health care system by students. Also, the university has no documented cases of classroom transmission to date.

Outside of the classroom, the Appalachian Police Department has been assisting local agencies with patrolling and responding to off-campus sites, including off-campus apartment complexes with large populations of students. Police have responded to 10 violations of off-campus gatherings that exceed the current Executive Order limitations of 25 indoors and 50 outdoors.

The current percentage of active cases off campus is 70%, with 30% being on-campus active cases.

To help limit gatherings, App State’s Student Government Association (SGA) and Interfraternity Council (IFC) announced a ban on all fraternity-related activities from Oct. 1 – 14. 

The university urges the campus to limit group activities, use virtual platforms for meetings and events, and utilize outdoor recreation and venues to the greatest extent possible, while wearing face coverings and distancing.

App State has been taking other response measures during this time as well, such as Chancellor Sheri Everts meeting regularly with UNC System leadership and daily with her Vice Chancellors and Emergency Management team. University representatives meet every Monday through Friday with local public health and twice weekly with the NC Department of Health and Human Services COVID response team.

App State has also implemented targeted testing in residence halls, and is working with public health to target some off-campus housing locations for large-scale testing.

Pop-up testing events have increased to three per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

These COVID-19 pop-up testing events are free for App State students, faculty and staff and are held in the Rivers Street Parking Deck from 12-5 p.m. Both walk-up and drive-up testing is available. No appointments are required; however, App State ID’s must be shown.

In addition, Student Health Service recently acquired additional rapid antigen testing equipment, on loan from N.C. State University. This will help increase the volume of on-site testing conducted by Student Health, which currently has 70 appointments per day.

Student Health conducts tests weekdays by appointments during clinic hours. 

As of Oct. 9, 11,749 on-campus tests have been administered since the start of fall semester on Aug. 17 with the first day of classes.