In-person class meetings delayed due to growing COVID-19 numbers

Mickey Hutchings, Managing Editor

The spring semester is kicking off with a change due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., Chancellor Sheri Everts announced in an email Friday evening. 

Beginning Jan. 19, all classes will meet virtually until Feb. 1, and students who live on campus will not be able to return to their dorms until that date.

Everts said the change comes as North Carolina and Watauga County’s COVID-19 case counts are steadily increasing. 

Over 600,000 North Carolinians are infected with COVID-19 according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. AppHealthCare’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard reports 222 active cases of the virus in Watauga County. 

The chancellor said that App State’s current COVID numbers are not “a cause for concern,” but cited data models that suggest Western North Carolina could experience an increase in infections and hospitalizations as students return to campus.  

There are currently 28 students and 6 employees in isolation after testing positive, according to the university’s COVID-19 Dashboard

Everts said that students enrolled in classes that require in-person lab access, clinical assignments and student teaching should work with their professors, supervisors and schools to decide how to continue their work. 

Students who live in residence halls can expect further communication from University Housing with revised move-in times, adjusted campus living costs and updated COVID-19 test re-entry deadlines. 

Everts said the university will continue to maximize teleworking in the email and wrote that students who work on campus should reach out to their supervisors to determine if their work can resume remotely. 

Everts reiterated that App State will not procure, store or distribute COVID-19 vaccines when they become available, but will serve as a distribution site for students, faculty and staff through an agreement with AppHealthCare and the local health department.