Each week, App State provides weekly progress reports to campus from the teams across campus who are working toward resuming daily operations and returning to classrooms and labs.
As fall semester classes continue, staff and faculty continue working steadily, in accordance with UNC System expectations and our educational mission, to assess and adjust every aspect of the Appalachian Experience to keep health and safety at the forefront.
Broad-based educational programming regarding public health, COVID-19 safety and community expectations:
As the fall semester continues, it remains critically important for all our students, faculty and staff to come together as a community and embrace public health and safety standards together. One important component of this is educational training.
All students, faculty and staff are expected to complete educational training courses about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 before returning to campus.
Educational training for students
The students’ course, titled Protecting Yourself and Others From Infectious Disease and available through AsULearn, was developed by the Wellness and Prevention Services team led by Dr. Alex Howard, who holds a doctorate degree in public health. The course consists of four modules, each ending with a knowledge check. Students need to pass each module separately with at least a 90% score, in addition to having a collective score of at least 90%. The course includes pre-test and post-test surveys of their knowledge, as well as tips for safe ways to connect with their peers during the semester and links to additional resources.
The student course includes information on the following:
- An introduction to the coronavirus and the disease it causes.
- How to protect yourself and others.
- How to seek help if needed.
- Contact tracing and other public health guidance.
- Community expectations for caring for one another and keeping each other safe.
Completion instructions were emailed to students. Others can see a preview of the students' course at the Wellness & Prevention Services course website. If you have any questions about completing this course, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Educational training for employees
Employees’ COVID-19 course, Pandemics: Slowing the Spread, is among online health and safety courses presented by Vivid Learn Systems through Appalachian’s Environmental Health, Safety and Emergency Services. The course begins by addressing pandemics in general and then offers specific information on the coronavirus and COVID-19. It includes a knowledge check after each part and an assessment at the end.
The employee course emphasizes:
- An introduction to the coronavirus and the disease it causes.
- How to protect yourself and others.
- Who is at risk.
It takes approximately 20 minutes to complete and is available online. To access the course:
- Log-in to your AppalNet account and select the “Employee” tab.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and select “Online Health and Safety Training Courses.”
- Select “go to Vivid.”
- Choose “Pandemics: Slowing the Spread.”
After completing the course, employees should download the Certificate of Completion PDF and email it to their supervisor. Supervisors should confirm successful completion before permitting an employee to return to campus.
Students will complete a similar training course. Student employers should request the completion report before student employees return to work.
Health and safety on campus
Students and employees on campus are expected to practice the 3 Ws; and, in certain work situations, employees may be required to do so:
- Wear a face covering if you will be close to others (6 feet away or less). As we return employees to campus, face coverings will be provided to all employees for use while working.
- Wait, in order to avoid close contact with others. Maintain physical distance of 6 feet from others.
- Wash your hands often, scrubbing with soap for at least 20 seconds. or use hand sanitizer. Read more about when and how to wash your hands here.
These measures are effective ways to limit transmission of the coronavirus because COVID-19 is an airborne disease that spreads from person to person through speaking, coughing or sneezing.
Physical distance and face coverings are not just to protect you; these measures protect those around you, too. Many people who contract the coronavirus don’t show symptoms at first, and some who contract the virus never develop symptoms — but asymptomatic people can still transmit the disease to others. That means it’s possible for someone to have the coronavirus and give it to other people without knowing it. Physical distance and face coverings reduce the likelihood of that happening.
Read more about the 3 Ws here.
Daily health checks
Students, as well as faculty and staff, are expected to self-administer daily health checks for COVID-19 symptoms using an online tool selected by the university. Depending on the symptoms checked, the tool will give guidance as to whether you should stay home, seek medical care or are cleared to be on campus.
App State data dashboard and confirmed cases of COVID-19 reporting process
AppHealthCare, our local public health agency, continues to collaborate with the university on testing, tracing and reporting positive App State COVID-19 cases. The university’s Reporting/Dashboard webpage includes a COVID-19 Dashboard, information on required self-reporting of COVID-19 tests, and information on what happens when someone tests positive.
Data dashboard: App State reports confirmed cases of all students, employees and subcontractors regardless of where they are or where they are tested. Local data (for Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany Counties) are provided by AppHealthCare district health department and the Environmental Health and Safety and Emergency Management (EHS&EM) team works with AppHealthCare to confirm all reported cases prior to adding them to the dashboard. The dashboard shows a breakdown of active cases as well as cumulative cases.
- Faculty and staff on campus are expected to maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others whenever possible.
- In-person gatherings or meetings are limited to 25 people or fewer indoors and 50 or fewer outdoors. All participants should be spaced at least 6 feet apart and face coverings should be worn. For meetings that cannot meet these requirements, use teleconferencing. Find more information and assistance with teleconferencing here.
- Faculty and staff are expected to follow signage directing traffic flow through building entrances, exits, elevators and other common areas.
- When business requires riding in the same vehicle, faculty and staff must wear face coverings.
Visit the Face Coverings web page for campus requirements as well as distribution information and what to do if you forgot your face covering.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow — not with your hands.
- Avoid touching your face.
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer. Scrub with soap for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer instead. Hand sanitizing stations may be found at the primary entry points to each campus building.
Employees must wash their hands in the following instances:
- At the beginning and end of each work shift.
- After using the restroom.
- Before and after eating.
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
For more detailed information on effective hand hygiene, view the CDC’s guidance for washing and sanitizing your hands here.
Cleaning and disinfection of surfaces
Employees and supervisors should take steps to reduce the number of common touch points in on-campus facilities. Consider leaving internal doors (other than fire doors and alarmed doors) propped open when possible.
The use of gloves is not required unless you are required to do by your supervisor in order to perform your work duties effectively. (For example, if you work in Dining Services, you may be required to wear gloves to effectively perform your work.) Gloves do not give the wearer immunity, and germs that might be on your gloves can be transferred to other surfaces. To avoid cross-contamination, safely remove gloves immediately after use.
Faculty and staff are expected to use available supplies to clean and disinfect the following:
- Their work space (as defined by the supervisor) at the start and end of each workday or shift.
- If applicable, their university work vehicle at the start and end of each shift (or before and after each use if the vehicle is shared).
- Any tools or equipment, including computer keyboards/mouses, at the start and end of each shift (or after each use if the items are shared).
Facilities Operations released a “Cleaning for COVID-19” guide with information and resources for campus areas and departments. View this guide and other resources on the Facilities Operations website.
Classroom safety and cleaning
- Physical distancing: Classroom furniture has been re-organized to reduce seating and place appropriate distance between each person in the classroom.
- Additional classroom spaces: All available space on campus, including the Plemmons Student Union meeting rooms, conference rooms and other meeting room spaces will be utilized as classroom space in order to accommodate physical distance requirements.
- Fresh air exchange: Heating and air systems are being optimized to provide the greatest possible fresh air exchange. For buildings with central HVAC systems, fresh air exchange will occur 4-6 times per hour.
- Classroom cleaning: Classrooms will be cleaned by custodial staff multiple times throughout the day. Each classroom will also be supplied with wipes. Everyone is encouraged to wipe down their personal space prior to and after each class.
Water fountains and refilling stations
Water fountains have been disabled to prevent the spread of COVID-19; however, water bottle refilling stations across campus are being retrofitted to allow for use.
Mental and emotional well-being
The uncertainty of this pandemic may cause mental and emotional stress for students, faculty, staff, and their families. Resources and assistance are available to help manage fear, anxiety and other stress.
The CDC provides guidance for coping during COVID-19, which includes:
- Take breaks from social media and from watching, reading or listening to news stories if you are feeling overwhelmed or distressed.
- Do what you can to eat healthy foods, exercise, get adequate sleep and find time to unwind.
- Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
Find additional CDC resources on coping and daily life during COVID-19 here or contact the National distress hotline: 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
Employee assistance for faculty and staff
A number of resources are available to assist App State employees:
- Confidential counseling is available for faculty and staff free of charge.
- App State’s Employee Assistance Program provides resources to help employees address personal and work-life issues. Supplemental, confidential counseling services, work-life solutions, legal support, financial information and expert information online about many topics are provided to faculty and staff at no charge.
- Center for Academic Excellence’s Keep Teaching website
- ITS’ Keep Working website
- Wellness and Prevention Services’ “Go at Your Own Pace Meditation Class”
- The Human Resources COVID-19 webpage has return to work guidance, details on a COVID-19 Shared Leave Bank, COVID-19 Special Leave Provisions and more.
- Human Resources’ Professional Development opportunities
- Affinity groups:
Wellness resources for students
Counseling and Psychological Services, known as the Counseling Center, offers individual counseling, group counseling, emergency services and more. Visit its Get Started webpage, or call 828-262-3180 to schedule an initial consultation or discuss options.
Find the Counseling Center’s emergency mental health services here.
The Office of the Dean of Students offers support and resources to promote educational and developmental opportunities for student growth and self-responsibility. Find information on case management, off campus student services, parent and family resources, student conduct, legal assistance for students and student veteran services here.
Wellness and Prevention Services serves all students through the promotion of healthy behaviors, risk behavior modification services, and advocacy for campus-wide health policies that facilitate student success and holistic well-being. It offers virtual events, peer education, weekly motivation messages and more.