App State lifts mask mandate, required testing for unvaccinated

Hollie Moore, Associate News Editor

App State’s face covering requirement obligating students, staff, faculty and visitors to wear face coverings at all times indoors, will lift March 7, Chancellor Sheri Everts announced in an update emailed to the App State community Friday. 

The change will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 7, which is also the first day of spring break for students, staff and faculty.

“If you are unvaccinated or if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19, you are encouraged to wear a face covering at your discretion and/or upon the advice of your medical provider,” Everts wrote in the email.

Everts said she made her decision based on the UNC System President Peter Hans’ update released Friday to the UNC System chancellors, following Gov. Roy Cooper’s encouragement for schools to end their mask mandates.

“It’s time to focus on getting our children a good education and improving our schools, no matter how you feel about masks,” Cooper said. 

The Boone Town Council also voted to end the state of emergency mask mandate Wednesday.

Face coverings will still be required on public transportation, such as AppalCart and when visiting Student Health Services, Everts said. 

Everts also announced that weekly testing for unvaccinated students will no longer be required.

Everts added that free, walk-in testing will still be available in Student Health Services three days a week. She continues to encourage the App State community to stay home if they are “feeling ill.”

“It is important to reiterate what we are hearing universally from public health experts worldwide: The COVID vaccine is our most important tool for preventing severe illness and death from COVID,” Everts said. 

Everts said contact tracing will only be focused in areas of “identified need.” 

“The ready availability of the vaccine, and our high campus vaccination rates, are allowing us to ease restrictions,” Everts said. “Please be sure to get your booster when you are eligible.”

App State vaccination rates stand at 81% for students and 90% for employees.

“Current conditions allow us more opportunity to take personal responsibility for making decisions about our own health,” Hans wrote in a press release to the UNC System chancellors. “In doing so, we should recognize that everyone’s sense of personal risk moves at a different pace. Let’s be patient with one another and show respect for our colleagues and students.”