COVID-19 update from App State — Dec. 21, 2020

Posted 12/21/20 at 2:00 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.

This is the final COVID-19 update of the year; updates will resume the week of Jan. 11. 

  • Dec. 15–Jan. 18: The university will remain open with reduced operations, with the exception of the winter break closure (Dec. 24–Jan. 1) and the state holiday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday (Jan. 18).

  • Jan. 19: First day of spring 2021 semester classes.

  • The university is closed for winter break from Dec. 24–Jan. 1. During this time:

    • Daily COVID-19 Dashboard updates will pause. Updates will resume on Jan. 2, and daily data from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1 will be added then.

    • Daily health checks email reminders will pause. Daily health checks continue to be required for all faculty, staff and students prior to coming to campus. Email reminders will resume on Jan. 2. As a reminder, for consistency, these messages are sent to all current App State faculty, staff and students.

As we look ahead to the spring semester, it is critically important that you continue to check your App State email over the break for information about returning to campus, operations updates and other important news and reminders. The information below includes important winter break reminders and information about preparing for spring 2021.

Winter Break Departure and Campus Operations Reminders:

Please remember to review the university’s Holiday and Winter Break Departure and Return Plan. Important reminders are below.

Reminders for students

  • Enroll in DUO two-factor authentication, if you have not already done so. Beginning Dec. 18, student accounts will be incrementally added to the DUO system. When this happens, students will not be able to access their university email accounts before enrolling in DUO.

  • Return your parking pass if you will not be returning to campus in the spring for a prorated refund to your student account. Drop off or mail it, along with your Banner ID, to the Parking and Transportation office.

  • Opt in before Dec. 31 to keep your campus mail box if you are living off campus next semester.

  • Order your spring 2021 textbooks online. On Dec. 15, students received an email about changes to the textbook ordering process for spring semester. All students should order their textbooks online, and orders will be shipped directly via UPS Ground. The ordering system opened Dec. 11, and order fulfillment will begin Jan. 4. 

Campus operations reminders

Campus building access will vary through Jan. 18. A key or card swipe may be required for access. Contact your department chair or administrator with questions. Visit area websites for adjusted and/or limited end of semester and winter break hours of operation.

  • Through Jan. 11, the university will work to limit on-campus activity to the extent possible to support an extended period of energy and cost savings. A Dec. 11 message to campus from the Office of Human Resources included reminders and information about reduced operations and alternative work during the time between fall and spring semesters.

  • From Dec. 11–Jan. 11, temperatures in most academic and support buildings will be lowered to maximize energy and cost savings. Visit Facilities Operations’ COVID-19 Operations page for details and additional information.

  • Parking permit holders (students, faculty and staff) may park in any open lot, including parking decks, through Jan. 18 regardless of permit type.

Guidance for a Safer Winter Break and Holiday Season:

Because the holidays are a time when families and others typically gather, it is important to exercise extreme caution this holiday season.

Resources for Faculty, Staff and Students:

  • Students facing financial hardship should contact the Case Management Team in the Office of the Dean of Students for help to access available resources. 

  • Faculty and staff can apply for loans of up to $750 through the Emergency Loan Fund. 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.

  • The Meals for Mountaineers program, available weekdays through Jan. 14, provides chef-inspired meals at no charge to App State students, staff and faculty in need. An intake form is required for each day that you would like to request meals.

  • The Mountaineer Food Hub and Free Store in the Office of Sustainability is open by appointment through Jan. 18. Email for a pickup appointment.

  • Reach out for help if you are experiencing emotional distress of any kind. Mental and emotional well-being information is available on the university’s COVID-19 continuity website.

  • If you have a concern about a student, staff or faculty member who may have COVID-19, submit a “Care and Concern” report to ensure the university is aware of their positive test result. In addition, if you have a concern about a student, you can report that concern to the Dean of Students. App State will continue providing support for students in isolation and/or quarantine status during university breaks.

Key Semester-in-review Metrics:

Total on-campus tests administered since start of fall semester: 31,293
Classroom transmission: 0 confirmed cases
Current quarantine availability: 100% available (0% in use)
Total meal support provided to those in quarantine (Aug. 1-present): 9,973 meals and 291 cases of water
Total cloth face coverings distributed (Aug. 1-present): 97,963
Current residence hall occupancy (includes exemption requests in process): 2%
Active cases in students who live on campus (in residence at the time of positive test): 0
Active cases in students who live off campus: 10 (83% of all active cases on Dec. 21, approx.)
Days since campus planning discussions first started around COVID-19: 334
Days since the campus EOC formally activated to coordinate preparedness/response/recovery efforts: 296

Preparing for Spring 2021:

Plans are underway for the spring semester and many of this semester’s key response measures will continue. The Dec. 11 message to campus included key reminders about ongoing briefings and strategy and tactical meetings, continued collaboration with AppHealthCare, and spring 2021 face coverings distribution, as well as information about COVID-19 vaccines and spring COVID-19 testing. Additional reminders and/or new details are below.

Information for students living in residence halls

Students living in residence halls in the spring semester have received information about spring 2021 move-in, COVID-19 re-entry testing and ongoing surveillance testing, isolation and quarantine requirements, and face covering and visitation policies via email — view the information here. These students should watch for additional email updates from University Housing during the break.

  • Move-in will be by appointment only (Jan. 15–18, 9 a.m.–3 p.m.); residential students should sign up for an appointment by Jan. 1, otherwise they will be assigned a move-in appointment by University Housing.

  • Students living in residence halls in the spring semester will be required to submit a negative PCR (molecular) or antigen (rapid) COVID-19 test into their MedPortal account before returning to campus. COVID-19 tests should be conducted within five days (120 hours) prior to arrival on campus and have a negative result. Check the NCDHHS No-Cost Community Testing Events page for events across North Carolina.

  • Periodically throughout the semester, the university will require students living in residence halls to have additional COVID-19 tests. Students will be notified about dates/times in advance and the cost for these tests will be covered by the university.

  • Face coverings will continue to be required in all residence hall areas with the exception of a student’s assigned room or suite. Visitors continue to be prohibited in residence halls. Learn more on the Housing Policies webpage (see Student Behavior).

Campus operations

  • COVID-19 vaccines: Members of the university's COVID-19 response team have been engaged in conversations with state and local public health officials to prepare for local vaccine distribution.

    • North Carolina’s vaccination rollout plan is currently in Phase 1a. During this phase, vaccines will be prioritized for health care workers at high risk for exposure to COVID-19, and Long-Term Care staff and residents.

    • College and university students are included in Phase 3. Supplies of the vaccine are expected to increase in the months to come. Read North Carolina's vaccination rollout plan here.

    • In Chancellor Everts' Dec. 21 update to campus, she provided information about cold storage units being provided to App State for COVID-19 vaccine storage. Vaccine distribution will be via state channels in line with the NCDHHS vaccine distribution plan. App State will not independently procure, store or distribute a vaccine. The UNC System Office will continue to coordinate with NCDHHS about distribution of a vaccine to university students and employees. App State has an agreement in place with AppHealthCare, the local public health department, to serve as a distribution site for vaccines for students, faculty and staff. Additional information will be shared with campus as it becomes available.

  • Spring COVID-19 testing begins Jan. 4: During the winter months, testing dates and locations are subject to change. Please check the university’s COVID-19 Testing page regularly for the latest testing schedule information.

  • Face coverings distribution: Prior to the start of the spring 2021 semester, each student, faculty and staff member will receive five new, washable, reusable face coverings. Environmental Health, Safety and Emergency Management (EHS&EM) is managing distribution to faculty and staff, and is working with the Division of Student Affairs to coordinate distribution to students. Additionally, NCDHHS’ Frequently Asked Questions on Cloth Face Coverings PDF includes guidance on when to discard face coverings.

  • Safety and sanitization: Classrooms will continue to be cleaned by custodial staff multiple times throughout the day. Each classroom will also continue to be supplied with wipes that can be used to wipe down personal spaces prior to and after each class.

  • Health and safety signage: Facilities Operations staff will be reviewing and replacing health and safety signage at building entrances/exits, on elevators, outside and in classrooms and labs, in hallways and common areas, and in restrooms as needed before the start of the spring semester. Departments and units on campus can request additional signs for their area as needed.

  • Spring 2021 activities: In her remarks to the Board of Trustees that were shared with campus on Dec. 4, Chancellor Everts announced the university will be installing outdoor campfire locations on campus that will allow students to safely gather and socialize. The university will also host other in-person and virtual activities, such as the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts’ spring 2021 “The Schaefer Center Presents” virtual event series. Additionally, University Recreation (UREC) is working to offer new programs for spring 2021 and to improve the UREC app with better scheduling, real-time updates and communication. Additional information and activities will be shared via these updates in spring 2021.

Communications and Updates:

  • Give back this holiday season: The Dec. 11 message to campus included requested information about how App State Community members can give back this holiday season. Additional information is available on a page that outlines Greatest Needsincluding the Mountaineer Emergency Fund, the Mountaineer Food Hub and Free Store, and scholarships.

  • CARES Act update: Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act emergency grants cover expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to the coronavirus. As of Dec. 14, $6,361,922.48 in direct aid had been awarded to 10,257 students who met U.S. Department of Education criteria for a CARES Emergency Grant since last spring. An additional $7,963,966 in aid to the institution went to housing and dining refunds to students.

  • CAE spring 2021 programming and resources: The Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) is offering a variety of professional development opportunities for faculty and staff throughout the spring 2021 semester, including recorded workshops that can be accessed at any time. CAE continues to provide updated resources, support pages and best practices for online, blended and face-to-face courses.

  • App State Earns Invite to First-Year Myrtle Beach Bowl (ESPN): On Monday, Dec. 21, at 2:30 p.m., the Mountaineers football team will take on North Texas in the first Myrtle Beach Bowl at Coastal Carolina's Brooks Stadium in Conway, South Carolina.

  • Additional campus updates and information:

Information Coming Soon:

  • Additional information about spring 2021. Weekly operations updates will resume the week of Jan. 11.