By Harley Nefe
Appalachian State University’s classes for the Spring 2021 semester will begin in about a week on Jan. 19; however, how the courses are conducted will be different than originally planned.
Classes will still begin on the same day as scheduled; however, all courses will meet online only until Feb. 1, according to a university update from Jan. 8. This means courses that were not originally scheduled to meet 100% online will now be online temporarily. In addition to classes changing, students with residence hall contracts will receive new move-in assignment dates, adjusted rental rates and new COVID-19 re-entry test deadlines.
Students who need in-person lab access, clinical assignments or are student teaching have been told to work with their faculty, clinical supervisors and schools to continue their mode of instruction. In addition, student employees have been told to reach out to their supervisors to determine whether their work can be performed remotely the first two weeks of the semester. Academic Affairs and Human Resources will follow up with specific guidance for students and faculty this week.
The update said App State will continue to maximize teleworking to the extent possible in order to reduce opportunities for exposure.
This decision was made after careful review of the current data and positive case trends locally and statewide, according to the update, which further said that the trends are concerning as students prepare to return to Boone or live on campus.
Last week, App State conducted 818 COVID-19 tests and had 26 positive results or 3.2%. This is the highest positivity rate the university has seen since October.
Also, Watauga County’s case counts have been steadily rising.
The latest data from AppHealthCare shows 198 active COVID-19 cases in Watauga County, 144 active cases in Ashe County and 37 active cases in Alleghany County. A total of 315 people are actively being monitored in Watauga County, while 247 are actively being monitored in Ashe County and 75 are being actively monitored in Alleghany County.
In addition, across North Carolina, cases of COVID-19 are high. 5,936 COVID-19 cases have been reported today in the state.
On Jan. 6, Governor Roy Cooper announced an extension of North Carolina’s Modified Stay at Home Order to last until at least Jan. 29. Additionally, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) issued an advisory secretarial directive with immediate actions that should be taken for protection.