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Unvaccinated App State students could be subject to regular COVID-19 testing throughout semester

The university says vaccines are key to providing students with in-person instruction, a robust on-campus experience and a safe on-campus work environment for employees.
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 2:44 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2021 at 5:32 PM EDT
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BOONE, N.C. (WBTV) - Some unvaccinated students at Appalachian State University could be subject to regular COVID-19 testing throughout the fall semester, according to new information from the school.

The school says face coverings are now required in all indoor campus locations due to cases in Watauga County rising, and Watauga County moving to the category of “substantial” transmission rates.

App State recently posted a COVID-19 update stating that vaccines are key to providing students with in-person instruction, a robust on-campus experience and a safe on-campus work environment for employees.

Although the university cannot unilaterally mandate vaccines for employees or students, officials say App State’s vaccination clinic is part of North Carolina’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution plan for rural areas.

Officials say fully vaccinated students and employees should submit their vaccination status as soon as possible, and that students who live in residence halls are required to do so before move-in.

If a student is not yet fully vaccinated, officials say they can volunteer their status as soon as they have received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine. Officials say this information will be kept confidential and will be used only to inform university-wide safety protocols.

According to the update, students who live in residence halls must provide their COVID-19 vaccine status as part of their vaccine records via their MedPortal account prior to move-in.

If a student is not fully vaccinated for COVID-19 at the time of move-in, they must provide documentation of negative COVID-19 test results, and be required to take additional COVID-19 tests prior to move-in.

The school says unvaccinated students will also be subject to regular COVID-19 testing throughout the semester. Students, faculty and staff who have not uploaded vaccine status will be required to participate in randomized COVID-19 testing throughout the year.

Rising sophomore Elijah Bonham says he is vaccinated and hopes others who are holding back will go ahead and get the shots. He says his freshman year was spent mostly in his apartment, with all classes online, and very little campus involvement.

It’s not what he and others wanted out of college, he says.

“It was horrible and no one wants to relive that experience,” Bonham said.

University spokesperson Megan Hayes says the plan is for that not to happen again and hopes the new rules will make that possible.

Officials will be monitoring the situation and will follow any changes needed to keep students safe.

“We can adapt as need be,” Hayes said.

Officials say App State will continue wastewater testing in residence halls to help with COVID-19 early detection and rapid response.

App State is strongly encouraging students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The university’s update also dived into other topics including:

  • Updated CDC recommendations for fully vaccinated people
  • Vaccine data and statewide updates
  • Face coverings
  • Returning to on-campus work
  • Campus operations

To read more of App State’s COVID-19 update, click here.

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