Some unvaccinated App State students could be regularly tested throughout semester

BOONE, N.C. — Some unvaccinated Appalachian State University students could be subject to regular COVID-19 testing throughout the semester, according to a statement released by the university on Thursday.

According to university officials, fully vaccinated students who live in residence halls are required to submit their vaccination status as part of their vaccine records via their MedPortal account before move-in.

The university said students are considered fully vaccinated once they have received the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine.

Students who are not fully vaccinated for COVID-19 at the time of move-in must provide documentation of negative COVID-19 test results and may be required to take additional COVID-19 tests prior to move-in. They will also be subject to regular COVID-19 testing throughout the semester.

The university said it will continue wastewater testing in residence halls to help with COVID-19 early detection and rapid response.

In just a couple of weeks, freshman Emma Morton will be moving into a residence hall on campus. She’s vaccinated so she won’t be required to wear a mask while inside university buildings.

“I feel like if you’re unvaccinated you should wear a mask just because of how everything has been going because of the new strain,” she said. “I feel like if you are vaccinated, it’s up to you.”

Students who live off campus are also being asked to submit their vaccine status through the university’s medical portal.

Faculty and staff can confirm their vaccine status with a COVID-19 Vaccine Attestation form. When filling out the form, staff will need to provide their Banner ID and the date they received their second dose of a two-dose vaccine or one dose of a single-dose vaccine.

According to the university, vaccination status will be kept confidential and will only be used to inform university-wide safety protocols.

No schools within the UNC system are making students get the vaccine, but App State is the latest to announce requiring them to submit their vaccination status before returning to campus.

In the spring, the university held several large scale clinics, vaccinating more than 4,000 people. On campus Thursday, Channel 9 could see hand sanitizer in all the buildings and classrooms, including a large lecture hall.

We spoke with several rising seniors who said they have gotten the shots.

“A lot of kids taking it,” student Kate Overman said. “I remember getting an email when it was first available and they were getting taken up really fast and everyone I know is vaccinated.”

App State said it strongly encourages students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated but cannot unilaterally mandate vaccines for students or employees.

North Carolina has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations since the emergence of the delta variant. More than 94% of the cases in North Carolina are reportedly now in people who are not vaccinated.

Thirteen counties in North Carolina are now experiencing substantial or critical community transmission. Watauga County is currently listed in the moderate community transmission category.

(WATCH: App State has spent more than $11M on virus-related supplies, expenses)