COVID-19 update from Appalachian State University — week of April 6–9
Good afternoon. As we all continue to practice social distancing, it is my pleasure to deliver my weekly campus update through a more personal medium today.
Yesterday evening, I drove a solar vehicle to feed the campus ducks, replacing what would have been a walk with a drive to ensure social distancing. In doing so, I reflected on how this minor adjustment to my routine is just one of so many changes we have all made in recent weeks. Our campus feels very different from a typical April. We are, of course, in a situation that is anything but typical.
Yesterday, we announced another positive COVID-19 case in an off-campus student, who is recovering at home. Our hearts are with this student, and all of the members of our Appalachian Community whose lives are touched by this dangerous and pervasive virus.
I would like to thank all of you for your cooperation with Governor Cooper’s stay-at-home order and the social distancing recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control. It is critical we continue to do so.
As we are settling into new routines, we continue finding ways to connect virtually with friends, family, classmates and colleagues. New situations and questions arise daily, and we are all working steadily to find solutions.
I want to convey my heartfelt thanks to the mandatory staff members who are still coming to campus to perform the essential operations of keeping our campus running.
- We have just over 90 students still living on campus, and of course, support for them is critical.
- Our IT staff continues to meet the heavy demand for their support, and our appreciation for their team grows day by day.
- Campus Dining is keeping takeout meals available for those members of our campus who need them, as well as providing support for our community’s emergency response efforts.
Finances are a heavy concern for many in the Appalachian Community. This week, we announced additional information regarding dining and on-campus housing refunds for our students. These payment processes have begun, and our Student Accounts team is working to process them quickly.
The university’s Mountaineer Emergency Fund continues to see great demand from students who are facing significant hardship. Many faculty and staff have contributed to this fund, and I am so proud of how our community is stepping up to assist these students who are in dire need. Thank you so much. The fund is less than two weeks old and we have seen more than 700 applications for assistance.
Thank you to our Case Managers and other Student Affairs staff for working with each of these students, and thank you to our Advancement staff, who continue their active work to help ensure this fund can continue to assist those who need it most.
Earlier this week, faculty and staff also received information about zero-interest emergency loans for permanent faculty and staff facing financial hardship. I hope these measures will ease some of the burden for many in our community.
As we continue to manage the COVID-19 crisis, our mission of teaching, research and service remains paramount. We recently announced the 2020 class of Chancellor’s Innovation Scholars. At a time when we are all being called upon to think more creatively than ever, these faculty and staff exemplify the research, scholarship and ingenuity that elevates the Appalachian Experience year-round. I also want to congratulate Dr. Jennifer Snodgrass, professor of music theory in the Hayes School of Music, on being selected for the UNC Board of Governors Excellence in Teaching Award.
I am so very proud of the accomplishments of our faculty.
We also look forward to welcoming a new class of Mountaineers in the fall. Our Admissions team is working with the many staff and faculty across campus to flip our Spring Open house to a virtual event, and our Orientation team is also shifting the many student orientation events they host each spring and summer to online events. We all know how important the personal interactions that take place at these events are to our prospective and new students and their families. The staff, faculty and students who support these events are even more determined than ever to make these events personal, interactive and meaningful.
As we all work to navigate these uncertain times, uplifting stories are all the more important. I’ll leave you with this one: Jakob Minton, a sophomore communication, electronic media/broadcasting major, turned a routine 30-second video production assignment into a clever 2-minute sketch about his beloved family beagle, who now has his own YouTube channel and Facebook page. Jakob attributed his overachievement to being at home with his parents, who inspired him to see beyond the original assignment. Stories like Jakob’s serve as a reminder that our current situation can bring us together in new ways, and yield unexpected returns.
I sincerely appreciate the efforts and resilience of everyone in the Appalachian Community and I look forward to the days when our campus will again be filled with the sights and sounds of our daily activities.
Until then, I will continue feeding the campus ducks.
Please stay safe, and thank you, all.
Sheri Everts, Chancellor