COVID-19 update from App State - week of Oct. 19 - 23

Posted 10/23/20 at 6:33 p.m.

App State’s weekly progress report to campus provides the latest operational updates and important information related to the fall 2020 semester and beyond.

App Strong. App Resilient.

On Oct. 21, Gov. Roy Cooper announced that North Carolina will pause in Phase 3 through Nov. 13. He also emphasized the continued importance of wearing face coverings, distancing, and using good judgment despite fatigue and/or frustration with the pandemic.

With a little over four full weeks remaining before Thanksgiving break and the start of the Remote Learning/Teaching Period (Nov. 25 - Dec. 14), each of us can continue to help slow the spread of COVID-19 at App State and in the greater community by continuing to follow the 3Ws (Wear, Wait, Wash) and campus safety protocols. Together, we can continue to be strong and resilient.

Students, check out these ways to have fun while staying safe:

Treat Yosef Right 2020 runs Oct. 25 - Nov. 2

EngageCampus ActivitiesUniversity Recreation

Key Takeaways:

  • Changes to Withdrawal and Grade Forgiveness Policies: In an Oct. 16 message to campus, Dr. Mark Ginn, vice provost for undergraduate education, announced that the last day to drop a fall 2020 class is Friday, Dec. 18, at 11:59 p.m.

    • All fall 2020 and spring 2021 semester drops will not count as career drops. In addition, any course that a student is taking for the initial time may be repeated for grade forgiveness in a future semester and will not count as one of their four grade forgiveness courses.

    • Academic Affairs encourages students to work with their advisors and the Office of Financial Aid before dropping courses as this may impact time to degree or financial aid eligibility.

  • Spring registration: The Spring 2021 Schedule of Classes has been published on the Office of the Registrar site. As they were this semester, spring courses will be offered in face-to-face, hybrid and online delivery methods. Students, as you begin planning for spring, we encourage you to meet with your academic advisor as soon as possible, if you haven't already, to help you make the most informed decisions as you select your classes.

  • On-campus housing for the remainder of this semester and spring semester: Any student who lives in a residence hall can submit a request to opt out of their current housing contract via their StarRez account. Housing contract exemptions will only be provided to students who are returning home to live with their families. Students who complete this process prior to 5 p.m. on Oct. 30 will receive priority course registration for the spring semester on Nov. 11.

    • We encourage students who wish to move out of residence halls to consult with their families and their academic advisors.

    • Students who choose to opt out of their housing contracts now will opt out for the rest of the academic year. We are offering them priority registration so they will have as many remote learning options as possible.

    • Students who opt out of their housing contracts will receive a prorated refund based on their current assignment and the date they officially check out. Because they are opting out of on-campus housing for the entire year, they will not be billed for spring housing. Students who have completed the check-out process on or by Nov. 1 will receive credits for unused funds on their fall semester meal plan on their student accounts. Also, they will not be charged for a spring meal plan, and they can also receive a prorated parking refund if they turn in their parking permits.

  • Mountaineer Emergency Grants for students: Students who incur expenses as a result of the campus disruption from COVID-19 may still apply for financial assistance through the Mountaineer Emergency Fund or the Mountaineer Emergency Fund CARES Act Supplement. There is no deadline to apply at this time and grants will be awarded as long as funds are available.

    • This funding is not a loan and does not need to be repaid. To date, more than 3,100 grants have been awarded to App State students.

    • Types of expenses covered include, but are not limited to: food, housing, course materials, technology, health care, child care, essential personal items and essential utilities.

    • To be eligible, students must meet minimum Department of Education criteria. Visit the Mountaineer Emergency Grants for Students page to view eligibility requirements and other details for each fund and to apply. 

  • Emergency Loan Fund and other resources for faculty and staff: The Emergency Loan Fund provides loans of up to $750 to eligible faculty and staff for qualifying circumstances with minimal payments made through payroll deduction.

    • In April, Chancellor Everts approved a policy exception, permitting employees with an existing loan balance to borrow the difference between their current loan balance and the $750 maximum loan amount. View full details of this and other employee assistance programs, as well as a link to the online application, on Human Resources’ Employee Relations page.

    • COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave: In an Oct. 19 message to staff, HR shared information on amendments to COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave. HR has also published a Summary of Employee Leave Options PDF about COVID-19-related leave and additional community service leave hours available for 2020.

    • HR Staff Town Halls: The next HR Staff Town Hall is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 19, from 10 - 11:30 a.m. Questions can be submitted in advance using the Virtual Town Hall Questions Form. Meeting links for future town halls and recordings of past town halls are available on the Human Resources Employee Resources regarding COVID-19 website.

Key Response Measures:

We continue to add new response tactics as we build upon those we have had in place for several months, which include:

  • Mental health/wellness resources: In addition to resources shared last week, here are more ways students can seek support from the Counseling Center:

    • A Self-Help page includes tips on how to cope during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as information on anxiety, grief and loss, mindfulness, stress and other mental health-related topics.

    • Support and Coping for Isolation and Quarantine meets Tuesdays from 5 - 6 p.m. via Zoom. Visit Engage (sign-in required) for details.

    • "Let's TeleTalk" allows students to “drop in” virtually for brief conversations with a counselor. 

  • Academic support: For students struggling with staying motivated in online learning or other academic challenges, here are tips from the Student Learning Center:

    • Tips for Success in ONLINE Classes – including how to manage your time, find your focus and avoid distractions. 

    • Keep Learning – a resource that includes study skills and support services.  

    • Peer Academic Coaches – upper-level undergraduate students trained in evidence-based coaching strategies who can meet one-on-one with students to help them overcome barriers to their academic success.

    • Faculty care about student success. Reach out to them and let them know if you are struggling. Faculty are reporting midterm grade information, a form of proactive support of students, at the highest return rate ever this semester. This is just one measure of faculty members’ investment in student success during this challenging time.

  • Targeted COVID-19 testing: On Oct. 22, AppHealthCare, our local public health agency, conducted on-campus targeted testing at Appalachian Panhellenic residence hall. Next week, targeted testing is scheduled for Oct. 27 at Gardner and Coltrane residence halls and Oct. 29 at Doughton and (formerly named) Lovill residence halls. Results from these tests will be included in the on-campus testing data reported each Monday. In addition, the university continues to work with AppHealthCare to schedule targeted testing at off-campus housing locations.

  • Weekly COVID-19 testing events: On-campus COVID-19 testing events are held each week on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

  • On-going briefings, strategy and tactical meetings: Chancellor Everts meets regularly with UNC System leadership and daily with her vice chancellors and emergency management team. University representatives meet daily with local public health Monday-Friday and on weekends as needed, and every Tuesday and Thursday with the NCDHHS COVID-19 response team.

Key Metrics

On-campus tests administered since start of fall semester: 17,508
Classroom transmission: 0 confirmed cases
Current hospitalizations: 0
Current quarantine availability: 94% available (using 6%)
Current meal support availability: 94% available (using 6%)
Police reports responding to violations of gathering limits (Aug. 1 - present): 13
Current residence hall capacity: 72% in use (approx.)
Classes scheduled for face-to-face instruction (%): 15% (approx.)
Classes taught hybrid (%): 30% (approx.)
Classes taught all-remote (%): 55% (approx.)
Active cases in students who live on campus: 6 (16% of all cases)
Active cases in students who live off campus: 28 (76% of all cases)
Days since campus planning discussions first started around COVID-19: 275
Days since the campus EOC formally activated to coordinate preparedness/response/recovery efforts: 237

Latest News:

Additional on-campus flu shot events 

  • Students: Student Health Service and Wellness and Prevention Services will conduct flu vaccine clinics for students on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the Rivers Street Parking Deck, and Thursday, Oct. 29, from 6 - 9 p.m. at the east side of Kidd Brewer Stadium. No appointments are required; however, you will be asked to show your AppCard and proof of insurance. Visit Wellness and Prevention Services’ Flu Clinics Fall 2020 page for details.

  • Faculty and staff: Health Promotion and AppHealthCare will conduct a flu vaccine clinic and COVID-19 screening on Friday, Oct. 30, from 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. in the Rivers Street Parking Deck for App State faculty, staff, retirees, spouses/domestic partners and dependents who are over 16 years of age. Registration is required and both drive-up and walk-up appointments are available. View the announcement for details and to register.

Communications and updates

    • No appointments are required; however, you will be asked for your Banner ID and to show your AppCard. Walk-up and drive-up testing will be available. If you drive-up, you will remain in your vehicle and a technician will conduct your test there.

  • Download the free SlowCOVIDNC exposure notification app: This free app sends a notification if you have been in close contact with someone who has shared a positive COVID-19 test result. SlowCOVIDNC protects your identity and privacy while empowering you to protect yourself, your family and your community.

  • On-campus early voting: One-stop early voting in the Plemmons Student Union for voters registered in Watauga County continues each weekday and Saturdays through Saturday, Oct. 31. During this time, the East Howard Street parking lot is reserved for voters and/or for individuals who have COVID-19 testing appointments at Student Health Service. Visit Watauga County Board of Elections for early voting hours. Visit North Carolina State Board of Elections’ Voting and Coronavirus page for information about safeguards at voting sites.

  • Fall 2020 Commencement: In an Oct. 19 message to campus, Dr. Heather Hulburt Norris, interim provost and executive vice chancellor, announced that December Commencement will be a virtual ceremony. Additional updates will be shared via email and on the Commencement website.

  • Additional campus updates and information:

Information coming soon:

  • Information about COVID-19 testing prior to the end of the fall semester and beginning of spring semester.