BOONE — Students who live on campus at Appalachian State University will be required to go home to quarantine — with limited exceptions — if they test positive for COVID-19, according to the university.
University spokesperson Megan Hayes said this policy, which has been in place since the start of the school year, is due to the availability of a vaccine. It’s also due to funding.
“The federal funds we used to house students in off-campus locations last year are now being redirected to cover the costs of mandatory testing and other mitigation efforts we did not have in place in 2020,” Hayes said.
Hayes said that a very limited number of active cases may be housed on campus at any given time, but this is a last resort for students who have no other options.
The same considerations are used for other housing exceptions and include factors such as extensive or international travel and homelessness.
Students will not be reimbursed if they are directed to go home.
Jenna Kubiak, a junior living on campus, said she was frustrated that they didn’t know about this policy until her and her roommate — sophomore AJ Akers — went to the website to see what they had to do if they tested positive for COVID-19.
“To learn that there wasn’t really any housing available for students who do test positive with COVID-19 was really scary, especially considering that we could possibly further infect our families,” Kubiak said.
Akers said that the policy has caused more anxiety.
“I have a 6-year-old brother who’s not been vaccinated,” Akers said. “He’s a first grader that attends special education. If he were to get infected if I brought COVID-19 back home, he would have to fall further behind in school, and we really can’t risk that for him.”
Hayes said that risk to one’s family is taken into consideration and “adds to the numerous reasons that it is very important to be vaccinated against COVID-19.”
With this policy, Akers thinks this could cause anxiety for people who live on campus to be comfortable to report they have COVID-19, especially if they don’t have an option to go back home.
Home for Akers is in Creedmoor and home for Kubiak is Rockingham, both of which are about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Boone. Kubiak lives with her grandparents.
Both Akers and Kubiak questioned why the university was hosting large-scale events when many students have tested positive for COVID-19. Since the university began conducting COVID-19 tests on Aug. 9, 296 students or faculty have tested positive.
“It feels almost as if they’re putting those like concerts and football games above the health and needs of their students,” Kubiak said.
As of Sept. 4, 112 students and six employees were active with COVID-19.