By Harley Nefe
Logistical planning for Appalachian State University’s Spring 2021 semester has been underway, and in many ways it will look similar to this past fall semester.
The first day of classes will be on Jan. 19, and course delivery methods will be similar to how they have been with a mix of in-person, hybrid and online-only classes. There will also be more synchronous courses for students taking remote classes. University officials also expect to have fewer class cancellations for weather since many classes can pivot to remote learning.
App State will also continue with a robust COVID-19 surveillance testing schedule, including required entry testing for all students living in residence halls. Entry testing in addition to daily health self-assessments will continue to be required for all faculty, staff and students prior to leaving their residence halls or coming to campus. All cleaning and sanitizing procedures and distancing requirements will remain in place, too.
Next semester, every student, staff and faculty member will receive five washable, reusable face coverings. The masks will have new designs on them compared to the ones they distributed in the fall. They will also be made with three-ply material and adjustable ear loop features.
Another new thing coming to campus will be outdoor campfire locations. These areas will allow students to gather, roast hot dogs and marshmallows, listen to music and enjoy the outdoors, while staying physically distanced, but socially connected.
Chancellor Sheri Everts said in her remarks from a Dec. 4 meeting of the Board of Trustees that App State recognizes that feelings of isolation, loneliness and anxiety can become heightened in the colder and darker months; therefore, the university is continuing to work on ways to minimize feelings of isolation and facilitate the community connections students need while also following safety guidelines.
The university will also continue to meet regularly and be engaged with UNC System leaders as well as state and local public health officials. App State has also already had conversations about administering COVID-19 vaccines.
“We have been forever changed, but we will return to the traditions of college life at App State, building new memories upon those currently dominated by Zoom meetings, face coverings and hand sanitizer,” Everts said.