Departing for and returning from the Thanksgiving holiday and winter break must include COVID-19 safety protocols, in order to protect yourselves and others from transmission of COVID-19. The information below will assist as you plan for travel and participation in family/friend gatherings, and help you prepare for returning to campus for the spring semester.
The information on this page includes guidance from the UNC System as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), N.C. Department of Health and Human Services’ (NCDHHS) NCDHHS Guidance for Safer Holiday Breaks, and American College Health Association’s Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education as Students Return Home brief.
Transitioning to the remote learning period, exams and preparing for campus departure
Nov. 24: Last day of class
Nov 25 - Dec 14: Remote learning/teaching period, includes exams and faculty grading period.
Dec. 3 - Dec. 9: All exams will be held online.
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 MLK Birthday closure (Jan. 18).
Jan. 19: First day of spring semester classes.
Guidance for a safer holiday
Be vigilant with personal safety protocols, including following the 3Ws (Wear, Wait, Wash).
Limit your activities and exposure to others to the greatest extent possible and avoid high-risk settings. Any close interaction with persons outside your immediate household or residence hall roommates will present an opportunity for infection. Exposures could disrupt your plans and travel schedule.
Get tested for COVID-19 prior to and after traveling, even if you have no symptoms. Take advantage of the university’s free COVID-19 testing events or check the NCDHHS No-Cost Community Testing Events page for no-cost events across North Carolina.
If you have not already, consider getting a flu shot. Students can schedule a flu shot at Student Health Service during regular clinic hours through Dec. 11. Call 828-262-3100 to schedule an appointment
Download the free SlowCOVIDNC exposure notification app that sends a notification if you have been in close contact with someone who has shared a positive COVID-19 test result. Your identity is protected.
Avoid large gatherings, limit attendance to 10 or fewer, and gather outdoors if possible. Review NCDHHS’s Interim Guidance for Private Social Gatherings.
If you test positive for COVID-19, follow the instructions of public health. This includes answering the call and participating in contact tracing. If you become infected or are exposed to a person who is confirmed to be infected, you will need to isolate or quarantine. Isolation is implemented with confirmed positive cases; quarantine is implemented with cases of potential exposure. When a student, faculty or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and needs to be isolated or is exposed and needs to be quarantined, the university assists AppHealthCare as needed. App State will continue to support students in isolation and/or quarantine during the university breaks. Learn more about campus isolation and quarantine procedures.
Carefully review data on the prevalence of COVID-19 in your local community and in your final destination and take appropriate precautions. Check the NCDHHS COVID-19 County Alert System to see counties with the highest levels of viral spread and to review critical actions we can all take to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Review regulations governing travel to your destination. Some states require the completion of a travelers’ form prior to arrival, along with specific restrictions and testing requirements after arrival. Travelers who are ill, are infected, or have recently been exposed to the virus may not be allowed to board airplanes and trains.
Reach out for help if you are experiencing emotional distress of any kind. Counseling and Psychological Services for students will maintain current operations through Dec. 9. Students with urgent mental health needs should visit the Emergency Services webpage.
Residence halls close on Wednesday, Nov. 25, at noon for winter break.
The halls will remain closed through Friday, Jan. 15.
No students will have access to the residence halls over the break. Remember to pack:
Students who are returning to residence halls in the spring are not required to completely move out all belongings over the break; however, residential students will be required to turn in their keys prior to leaving or be charged a $55 re-key fee. Keys will be reissued when students return in January and after the university receives documentation of a negative COVID-19 test. Logistics are currently being finalized and these students will receive additional communications about testing options, documentation requirements and timelines via email.
If you have not yet finalized your plans for the spring semester we encourage you to move completely out and return your key via the Express Checkout process. You can check back in when you arrive back to campus in January.
Access to residence halls is restricted to residents only. No one is allowed in residence hall rooms other than those who live in them. Only students who are moving out completely are allowed one move out helper. We recognize students will choose to move out and/or return home for break at different times depending on their class schedules. Please coordinate departure logistics with your roommate(s) so you are leaving at different times to facilitate physical distancing and minimize exposure to others.
Academic building access
Building access during the Remote Learning/Teaching Period (Nov. 25 - Dec. 14): During this time period, the university will remain open (with the exception of the Thanksgiving closure, Nov. 26 - 29). Academic buildings will remain open; however, some buildings will be locked and will require a key or card swipe for access. Beginning Dec. 11, most academic buildings will be locked for safety and security and will require a key or card swipe for access. Contact your department chair or administrator with questions. Please visit area websites for more information.
Building access between fall and spring semesters (Dec. 15 - Jan. 18): During this time period, classes are not in session but the university will remain open (with the exception of the Winter Break closure, Dec. 24 - Jan. 1, and the MLK Birthday closure, Jan. 18). Academic buildings will remain open; however, from Dec. 11 - Jan. 11, most academic buildings will be locked for safety and security and will require a key or card swipe for access.
Winter Break closure: The university is closed for winter break from Dec. 24 - Jan. 1.
Climate control and energy savings: Beginning on Friday, Dec. 11, at 5 p.m., temperatures in most academic and support buildings will be set to unoccupied mode (55°F ) to maximize energy and cost savings. Building temperatures will be turned back up on Friday, Jan. 11, to prepare for the first day of spring semester classes.
Offices will be colder than normal, so if you will be working on campus during this time, dress warmly.
Areas with special collections or scheduled events, as well as science and music buildings, will not be affected .
Visit Facilities Operations’ COVID-19 Operations page for details and tips for faculty and staff on how to winterize your office.
Parking and parking passes
Parking permit holders (students, faculty, staff) may park in any open lot, including parking decks, Nov. 23, through Jan. 18 regardless of permit type.
Student permit holders who will not be returning to campus in the spring should return their parking pass and will receive a prorated parking refund to their student account. The permit can be delivered in person or mailed, along with your Banner ID, to the Parking & Transportation office.
Student permit holders who plan on leaving a car in a remote lot over break are invited to take advantage of extra security and weather protection by moving your car into the Rivers Street Parking Deck at no additional charge.
Campus Dining and addressing on-campus food insecurity
Campus Dining will operate through Dec. 11 with reduced operations after Nov. 25.
Campus Dining’s Meals for Mountaineers program will be available weekdays from Dec. 11 - Jan. 14 providing chef-inspired meals at no charge to App State students, staff and faculty in need, no questions asked. An intake form is required for each day that you would like to request a meal(s), and daily pick-up options include a single meal or three meals (a hot lunch along with a prepared dinner and breakfast for the next day). Weekender/Celebration Boxes, which include ingredients for three meals per day for individuals or up to four people, are also available. This program is a collaboration of App State's Office of Sustainability, Division of University Advancement, Division of Student Affairs and Campus Dining. It is made possible by in-kind and monetary donations.
The main Mountaineer Food Hub is located in the Office of Sustainability, on the first floor of East Hall, open Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Pre-bagged food staples as well as hygiene and special dietary needs items are available. Other on-campus food hubs are currently open in Garwood Hall, Belk Library, and the Access Scholarship Office in DD Dougherty.
The deadline to return rental textbooks for fall 2020 is Dec. 15.
Students may return books in person at the Bookstore drop-off location or ship their books back using a prepaid UPS shipping label. Detailed instructions will be emailed mid-November and published to the Bookstore’s Textbook Rental Program page.
Students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 prior to departing for break, even if you are not feeling sick and have no known exposure to anyone who has tested positive for the virus.
Free COVID-19 testing events will be held each Monday, Wednesday and Saturday in November (through Nov. 23) and each Wednesday in December (through Dec. 16). No appointments are required; however, you will be asked for your Banner ID and to show your AppCard. Visit the university’s COVID-19 Testing page for details.
Students can also contact Student Health Service for an appointment. Tests are conducted weekdays during clinic hours Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Remember that a test only reflects one point in time, and even with a negative test you should still continue all other preventative measures. Students should also consider getting tested following any travel and before returning to campus.
Quarantine and isolation
NCDHHS recommends that anyone preparing to travel quarantine for 14 days and monitor their health for symptoms of COVID-19 before their departure, regardless of whether you feel ill and even if you have not had any confirmed exposure to anyone with the virus. Any exposures could disrupt your travel plans. If you become infected or are exposed to a person who is confirmed to be infected, you will need to isolate or quarantine.
Isolation is implemented with confirmed positive cases; quarantine is implemented with cases of potential exposure. AppHealthCare, our local health department, is responsible for public health in Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties. When a student, faculty or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and needs to be isolated or is exposed and needs to be quarantined, the university assists AppHealthCare as needed. App State will continue to support students in isolation and/or quarantine during the university breaks.Learn more about campus isolation and quarantine procedures..
App State will continue to work with public health on contact tracing efforts during university breaks. Please remember that if you receive a call from public health, it is critically important that you answer and/or return their calls and answer their questions. The purpose of the call is to support those who may have been in close contact with the contagious person and prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Learn more about contact tracing
Because the holidays are a time when families and others typically gather together, it is important to exercise extreme caution this holiday season. Take care to properly quarantine as a precaution, wear face coverings and maintain distance. New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states wearing a face covering doesn’t just protect others from COVID-19 ― it also protects you.
Be especially careful if gatherings include individuals at higher risk for severe illness and/or if there is an increasing or high number of cases in the community. One of the most important things you can do is to keep practicing the 3Ws (Wear, Wait, Wash) to protect yourself and your family, friends and community.
NCDHHS has published NCDHHS Guidance for Safer Holiday Breaks which includes information for college students on leaving campus and precautions to take while on break.
Travel home and over the break
If you travel during the break, follow CDC’s guidance for travel during COVID-19.
- The least risky travel option is private transportation by yourself or your family members. If in a car with others outside your household, wear a face covering and sit in the back seat if someone else is driving. If weather conditions permit, open the windows.
- Reduce the number of stops on the trip whenever possible. If you must travel by air, consider taking a direct flight, or if driving, pack food/snacks for the trip.
- Delay travel if sick or exposed, and follow the guidance of public health and your health care provider if you feel ill, have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19, or exposed to someone with COVID-19.
- Take safety precautions, especially if using public transportation. Use a disinfecting/sanitizing wipe to clean any touchable surfaces in the vehicle in which you are traveling. Wear a face covering at all times, stay at least 6 feet away from other people whenever possible, and carry and use hand sanitizer frequently.
- Re-check for any requirements or restrictions at your destination.
Arrival at home
For students traveling home, consider getting tested once you arrive. You should also monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 and quarantine for 14 days. This is especially important if there are vulnerable, higher risk individuals living in the home. Self-quarantine includes the following:
- Practicing the 3Ws.
- Eating meals in a private space or outdoors with family at least 6 feet apart.
- Using separate serving ware, utensils, glasses and plates.
- Using a separate bathroom from other family members and/or disinfecting the bathroom after each use.
- Avoiding physical contact including hugging, kissing and shaking hands.
- Restricting movement within and outside the home.
If quarantine is not possible, stay physically distant from family household members, wear a face covering, and avoid close contact with others for the first 14 days home.
Personal safety protocols
While on break, it is important to continue to be vigilant with personal safety protocols. This includes following the 3Ws whenever you go out, and carrying extra cloth face coverings, tissues and hand sanitizer with you whenever possible. You should also limit activities and/or exposure to others and avoid high-risk settings.
High-risk settings include:
- Indoor settings and/or those with poor ventilation.
- Places where people cannot socially distance and/or where people carry on extended face-to-face conversations.
- Settings of activities that involve increased respiratory effort such as singing or indoor exercise.
- Settings where people remove their mask to eat or drink, and remain in one place, such as at bars and social gatherings.
Medical and mental health and well-being
- Seek medical advice if you develop any possible symptoms of COVID-19 or have any pre-existing conditions. Contact your primary care provider, or for students, visit Student Health Service for information on how to schedule an appointment.
- Get a flu vaccine if you haven’t already done so.
- If you are feeling sad or anxious or experiencing emotional distress of any kind, reach out for help or guidance from your primary care provider, psychologist/mental health clinician.
Counseling and Psychological Services, known as the Counseling Center, will maintain current operations through the end of final exams Dec. 9. Winter break offerings with limited staff are as follows:
Dec. 10 - 18: Telemental health appointments offered as needed.
Dec. 21 - 23: Staff will answer phones and respond to needs if they arise.
Dec. 24 - Jan. 3: Closed for the university’s holiday break. Students with urgent mental health needs should visit the Emergency Services webpage for options if living in Boone or other parts of North Carolina. Contact information for national resources is also provided.
Jan. 4 - 8: Telemental health appointments as needed.
The full schedule allowable during COVID-19 resumes Jan. 11. Check out the Counseling Center’s recently published guide: Prep Your Coping Skills for Winter Break.
Holiday celebrations and gatherings
According to the CDC virtual celebrations or those with household members pose low risk for spread, and in-person gatherings pose varying levels of risk. For additional guidance review the information below:
- CDC’s holiday-specific guides for lower risk, moderate risk and higher risk activities and celebrations.
- CDC’s Guidance for hosting gatherings.
- CDC’s Considerations for attending an event or gathering.
- NCDHHS’s Interim Guidance for Private Social Gatherings.
Returning to campus for the spring semester
As when you left campus, when traveling back to campus, follow CDC’s guidance for travel during COVID-19 and get a COVID-19 test before traveling and upon arrival.
All students returning to residence halls for the spring 2021 semester are required to get tested for COVID-19 prior to their return to campus. Prior to checking in to their residence halls, students must present a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. Additionally, App State will continue surveillance testing as well as regular testing events throughout the spring semester.
Students who live in residence halls will receive additional communications about testing options, documentation requirements and timelines via email.
In addition, next semester, all students, faculty and staff will receive five new washable, reusable face coverings.