“A return to pre-pandemic operations”: App State, Town of Boone lift mask mandates


Jesse Barber

A group of masked students gather on Sanford Mall. Individuals no longer need to wear a mask except in certain situations.

Ethan Hunt, Reporter

In the 14 months since the first recorded COVID-19 case in Watauga County, students and residents have been asked to adhere to mask mandates, social distancing requirements and capacity restrictions. Now, those restrictions have been lifted. 

App State announced in a campus-wide message Friday that masks will no longer be required on campus in the fall for vaccinated individuals and Tuesday the Boone Town Council lifted the town-wide mask mandate. 

The email from the university stated that in-person classes will be the “norm” again, and the university will return to pre-pandemic operations. People will only be required to wear masks at large indoor events, health care settings, when using public transportation and at child care facilities. 

Unvaccinated people will still be required to wear masks and social distance per state guidelines. 

Summer class sessions will also be in-person. Capacity restrictions and distancing requirements have been lifted. Building hours and access will also return to normal, according to the message from the university. 

The Boone Town Council voted unanimously to lift the order which stated that all public establishments require masks be worn and social distancing guidelines observed. 

Community members will no longer be required to wear masks or social distance indoors. However, business owners can still require customers and employees to wear masks, according to a press release from the town council. 

The May 18 press release from the town council stated that the Town of Boone will continue to follow Gov. Roy Cooper’s most recent guidelines as well. App State will also follow them for summer and fall classes.

Xanayra Marin-Lopez

These include the following: 

  • Masks will be required in areas where the majority of the population cannot be vaccinated (child care, schools and camps).
  • Masks will be required for every citizen (vaccinated or unvaccinated) in settings such as public transportation, health care settings like hospitals, doctor’s offices and long-term care settings like nursing homes, and certain congregate settings like correctional facilities and homeless shelters.
  • Citizens who are not vaccinated should wear a mask and maintain distance in all indoor public settings and in outdoor settings when they cannot maintain six feet of distance.
  • Masks are strongly recommended for everyone at large crowded indoor events like sporting events and live performances.

App State will also follow North Carolina’s COVID-19 guidelines for summer and fall classes. Students, faculty and staff will not be required to provide their vaccination status to the university, but they will have the opportunity to submit it voluntarily. 

Classrooms will still be socially distanced for summer class sessions, but classrooms in the fall will be configured normally. Hand sanitizer stations and regular classroom sanitation will remain. 

App State will host a vaccine clinic at the Plemmons Student Union on May 27. The clinic will administer the two-shot Moderna vaccine and every person will receive a $10 gift card to campus dining with their shot, courtesy of Chancellor Sheri Everts, according to the message.