Last Updated on October 17, 2020 3:54 pm
Thursday, October 8, 2020
In recent days, I have heard from many members of the Appalachian Community who have shared their desire to remain on campus and others who have requested we move to strictly online learning. The common theme is heartfelt concern for all Mountaineers.
While we have no confirmed cases of classroom transmission, we are concerned about the residence halls clusters and are closely watching test result data. Here is data from the COVID-19 tests we have conducted so far this week (we will update the weekly test data on our dashboard on Monday):
- Monday, Oct. 5: 665 tests with 37 positive results: 5.6%
- Tuesday, Oct. 6: 161 tests with 10 positive results: 6.2%
- Wednesday, Oct. 7: 979 tests with 32 positive results: 3.4%
- Week to date: 1,805 tests with 79 positive results: 4.4%
- We have 4 new cases in the active football team cluster. Active cases in that cluster are down from 25 last Friday to 17 today.
- 70% of our active cases are in students who live off-campus.
While we remain concerned about clusters in our residence halls, those teaching, learning and working on campus have noted campus facilities remain at a low density, and our data show campus services are being utilized at greatly reduced rates as compared to the same time last year.
In addition to our continual coordination with the UNC System, we meet twice weekly with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services COVID response team and daily with AppHealthCare. We continue to review the data and respond with measures that best meet the needs of our students and faculty, and support the teaching and learning experience at App State. Our latest actions include:
- We are offering on-campus students the ability to voluntarily opt-out of their housing contracts if they want to return to their hometowns.
- We are implementing mandatory, large-scale testing in residence halls with active clusters.
- Mountaineer football practice has been suspended until further notice and the football game against Georgia Southern University, scheduled for Oct. 14, has been postponed.
- University Housing staff are communicating regularly with our on-campus students to not only ensure their understanding of and compliance with safety restrictions, but also to just to check in. It’s been a difficult adjustment for some, and I greatly appreciate the important work of the permanent and student housing staff to support and engage our students who live in residence halls.
- The Appalachian Police Department is assisting local agencies with patrolling and responding to off-campus sites, including off-campus apartment complexes with large populations of students.
- We are partnering with AppHealthCare, our local public health agency, to implement community-based testing at off-campus apartment complexes with large populations of students.
- We are working with local public health, local law enforcement and local housing complexes on next steps, which include helping identify cases, assisting with tracing close contacts, sharing public health messages, and enforcing university, local and state policies and ordinances.
On-campus compliance with the university’s COVID-19 safety measures has been excellent, but we are serious about enforcement:
- Office of Student Conduct staff visit the courthouse biweekly to pick up information involving App State students.
- App State will exercise every measure under the Code of Student Conduct for violations of restrictions related to social activity, face coverings and social distancing on and off-campus.
- On-campus residents must also comply with restrictions related to visitors and group gatherings.
- Serious and/or repeated violations will result in suspension.
We urge everyone to reflect on your daily activities and make any needed adjustments to ensure you are being as safe as possible — from following the 3Ws to taking advantage of our free weekly pop-up testing events now held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays in the Rivers Street Parking Deck. We also encourage all Mountaineers to download the SlowCOVIDNC exposure notification app, released by the NCDHHS. This is an anonymous way to share a positive COVID-19 result or learn if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 14 days.
Thank you to the Appalachian Community for setting an example — through your actions — of how seriously we are committed to protecting the people we care for and the institution that brings us together. Your thought, care and concern for one another underscores the resilience of our university.
Sheri Everts, Chancellor