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Health and Safety at Forefront for Fall Semester at App State

When Appalachian State University students returned for fall semester Aug. 17, they encountered any number of changes to the expected routines.

In response to the novel coronavirus, the university has assessed and adjusted every aspect of the Appalachian Experience to keep health and safety at the forefront, including implementing physical distancing recommendations, requiring face coverings and enhancing sanitation protocols.

Appalachian has a strong partnership with AppHealthCare, the local public health agency, and is supported by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and the University of North Carolina System. The university is partnering with AppHealthCare on the High Country “Share Your Love” public health campaign, with billboards, avenue banners, newspaper ads, and local radio and TV spots featuring Appalachian Chancellor Sheri Everts and Appalachian students. Additionally, the Appalachian Police Department is assisting the Boone Police Department with monitoring, responding to and addressing off-campus gatherings that violate requirements related to COVID-19.

Read on for a glimpse into key areas of daily life, from dining to academics. Additional information is available at appstate.edu/recovery.


Appalachian State University is requiring face coverings and is providing three reusable face coverings, such as the one worn by the student pictured, for all faculty, staff and students. Photo by Marie Freeman

Face coverings

The state of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina System, the town of Boone and Appalachian are taking public health guidance seriously and are requiring face coverings. Signage about requirements for face coverings and physical distancing has been placed throughout campus.

All students will be provided three reusable face coverings and are expected to wear them — on campus and during off-campus activities as well — for the health and safety of everyone in the campus and local communities. Read more about the university’s face coverings policy.

Learn how to get your face coverings and what to do if you forget your face covering.


In partnership with Appalachian State University, Mako Medical Laboratories hosted a pop-up testing event Aug. 11 for students who will be living in on-campus residence halls. Pictured here, registered nurses Lisa Palermo, left, Sarah Carter, center, and Kim Rushing administered free COVID-19 tests outside Appalachian’s M.S. Shook Student Health Service. Photo by Marie Freeman

Safe socializing

Students, as well as faculty and staff, will be expected to self-administer daily health checks for COVID-19 symptoms using this online tool. This centralized tool includes a short, easy questionnaire and is accessible on any device — phones, laptops, tablets or desktop computers. Depending on the symptoms checked, the tool will give guidance as to whether you should stay home, seek medical care or are cleared to be on campus.

On-campus residential students have an opportunity to receive a free COVID test Aug. 10–15 as they move onto campus, thanks to a partnership with Mako Medical Laboratories to increase testing availability for the campus community. Local public health agency AppHealthCare continues to offer testing for other members of the Appalachian Community. Find additional information about testing on Appalachian’s dedicated coronavirus website.

The ability to hold campus events and the number of people who can be in attendance depend on decisions made by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. Guidelines for student club and organization events will be provided soon, but per Cooper’s Phase 2 extension, issued Aug. 5, gatherings of more than 10 people in a single indoor space remain prohibited. In confined outdoor spaces, gatherings of more than 25 people are prohibited. These mass gathering limits apply to parades, fairs, festivals, auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, conference rooms and meeting halls.

In a show of support for the university’s recommendations, leadership of Appalachian’s fraternities and sororities issued a joint statement on the groups’ commitment to “enforcing the directives and initiatives of our state, town and campus” for the safety of students and others in the community returning to campus amid COVID-19. The statement also declares “those organizations that do not act according to these initiatives and our community values will be held accountable.” Read the news story.


Signs, like the ones shown here in the Appalachian State University Bookstore, are posted throughout campus to remind faculty, staff, students and campus visitors of the health and safety guidelines in place. Photo by Marie Freeman

Signs of the times

The university has installed clear and consistent health and safety signage for campus buildings, specifically at building entrances/exits, on elevators, outside and in classrooms and labs, in hallways and common areas, and in restrooms. The signs detail recommendations for face coverings, physical distancing and sanitation. Request additional and specialty signage.


Classroom space at Appalachian State University has been adjusted to ensure 6 feet of physical distance between students. All available space on campus, including the Plemmons Student Union meeting rooms, conference rooms and other meeting room spaces, will be utilized as classroom space in order to accommodate physical distance requirements. Photo by Marie Freeman

Academic life

The fall 2020 schedule of classes has been updated to reflect adjustments to room assignments, class times and class delivery methods. A total of 52% of courses are being delivered in fully face-to-face or hybrid modes, and 48% are being delivered fully remotely. The new schedule will offer a variety of course types to allow greater physical distancing in classrooms and flexibility for faculty and student needs.

Course types include the following:

  • Face-to-face courses held in classrooms arranged to provide 6 feet of physical distancing.
  • Hybrid, with both online and face-to-face components, including rotating student groups, synchronous broadcast and HyFlex, in which students have multiple options to achieve course goals.
  • Online courses (synchronous or asynchronous) in which students will participate from their residences or other designated learning areas across campus set up for physical distancing.
Many areas of Appalachian State University’s campus are utilizing partition walls, like the ones pictured here in the University Bookstore, for the safety of customers and employees. Photo by Marie Freeman
Study spaces and materials

The University Bookstore and Belk Library and Information Commons are both open for the campus community. The library’s dates of access and hours of operation for fall semester are available on its website.

Of note, students began ordering their fall textbooks online July 31. The University Bookstore has posted step-by-step instructions on its website for the online ordering process. Off-campus students will have their books delivered to them via UPS Ground. Residential students will pick up their books in person at the University Bookstore by appointment only and will receive emailed instructions for how to do so — no walk-ins will be allowed. Learn more about ordering fall textbooks.

Information Technology Services has been working to ensure the best possible learning environments. Read details about laptop recommendations, online computer labs and financial assistance.

Students will have spaces available on campus for studying or participating in online learning, including campus computer labs and designated study zones in multiple campus buildings. These spaces will have access to Wi-Fi, allow for appropriate physical distancing between students and be cleaned and disinfected throughout the day. Specific locations will be shared as information is available.

Appalachian State University’s Campus Dining has implemented safety precautions such as adding hand sanitizer stations and discontinuing the use of the self-serve salad bar. Campus Dining has also expanded its offerings — including a Grubhub pick-up location and local food trucks — to ensure students have a variety of ways to access meal options. Photo by Marie Freeman

Dining on campus

The campus dining experience will be different this fall. Seating capacity will be reduced to accommodate physical distancing. Takeout, food trucks, grab-and-go stations and a Grubhub partnership have been added for convenience and safety. In this video, Campus Dining Director Pam Cline shares a glimpse of the fall dining experience. Some of the changes, innovations and options:

  • Hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the facilities.
  • No cash will be accepted.
  • Glass display cases will show pre-plated meal choices so students can view their options in advance and be ready to order and exit with their food.
  • Salad bars will be closed, but Campus Dining staff will compose salads to order. Pre-built salads will also be available in the grab-and-go sections.
  • Locally owned food trucks will be located on or near Sanford Mall.
  • The mobile food ordering platform Grubhub will accept orders for pickup from on-campus dining locations, including food trucks, and will accept campus meal cards for payment.

Read more about Campus Dining.

University Housing is committed to creating as safe and positive an experience as possible for Appalachian State University’s on-campus residential students. Many students will be moving into two brand-new residence halls, Thunder Hill and Raven Rocks. Pictured here is an apartment-style suite within Thunder Hill Hall. Photo by Marie Freeman

Life in the residence halls

Appalachian opens two new residence halls this fall — Thunder Hill and Raven Rocks halls. There, and in all the residence halls, University Housing has implemented policies and procedures to ensure physical distancing, intensified cleaning and other safety precautions and special move-in instructions.

New visitation policies limit the number of people allowed in the residence halls and individual rooms. Read about the policies and watch a short video, in which Associate Director of University Housing Dr. Alicia Vest explains some of the measures in place to help protect students living in the residence halls. As always, Appalachian students’ physical safety and security are priorities for the university. Read University Housing’s safety and security measures.

Pictured in fall 2019, Appalachian State University students board an AppalCART bus along Rivers Street, which bisects Appalachian’s campus. Photo by Marie Freeman
Navigating campus
Many Appalachian students use AppalCART, an independent public transit authority serving Boone and all of Watauga County. Read more about the safety measures AppalCART has in place on its website.