BOONE — Appalachian State University has extended spring break an additional week until Monday, March 23, then will go to online classes for as many courses as possible due to the 2019 novel coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic, the university announced March 11.
“Beginning Monday, March 16, through Friday, March 20, all undergraduate and graduate classes are canceled,” ASU’s alert website stated. “On March 23, App State will transition from in-person instruction to alternative course delivery methods. Students will be provided with further instructions by March 18.”
Students living in residence halls, accounting for thousands of the more than 19,000 at the university, are encouraged to remain at home or off campus.
“We understand this may not be possible or prudent for everyone. If you have special circumstances that require you to return to a residence hall, please contact University Housing,” ASU said.
Employees whose schedules may be affected by the spring break extension will receive follow-up communications, ASU said.
"Any university community member returning to campus from an affected area ... should self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to work or school on campus, in consultation with their health care provider. This self-quarantine should, if possible, occur at the individual’s home, away from campus," the university said. "Taking such steps is part of acting as responsible members of the community."
The announcement follows the University of North Carolina system, which includes Appalachian State University, announcing in a statement earlier in the day that all of its institutions will transition from in-person instruction to alternative class delivery such as online classes no later than March 20.
"Alternative course delivery will begin on March 23 and last indefinitely," the UNC system stated. "Our goal is to return to in-person instruction as soon as reasonably possible. Each institution will communicate the specific details to its students and faculty."
University leadership will determine which classes, such as those with labs, will continue to require in-person instruction and attendance, it said.
In addition, outside events and gatherings of 100 or more people will be cancelled or postponed unless otherwise authorized by a chancellor or provost. University-sponsored in-state travel to gatherings of 100 or more people is suspended, and all travel outside the state is suspended, unless otherwise authorized by a chancellor or provost.
For intercollegiate athletics, teams are asked to “follow the guidance of their respective athletic conferences,” according to ASU.
Appalachian State has assessed its ability to recall all students currently studying abroad and will announce decisions about current and summer study abroad programs, it said.
"Universities provide environments where large numbers of people interact and congregate," the system stated. "Practicing tried and true methods for maintaining good health, and being vigilant without overreacting, will help individuals remain healthy and help minimize the impact of the virus."
System leaders continue to consult with public health officials to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation and prepare for the likelihood that the virus will impact its institutions, the system said in the statement.
"UNC system institutions are thriving and supportive communities, ready to adapt quickly as circumstances evolve," it said. "We remain focused on the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff, and the delivery of our core academic mission."
Lees-McRae modifies operations due to coronavirus
Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk will resume classes after spring break as scheduled on Monday, March 16, the school announced March 11.
But "faculty are preparing for a possible change to remote instruction if the need arises, however, all face-to-face, hybrid and online courses will resume as planned," the LMC statement said.
LMC said there are no suspected or confirmed cases of novel coronavirus at Lees-McRae or the immediate surrounding area.
"The college is following recommendations from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid pre-emptive school closures," the school said. "Lees-McRae will remain open, but the college is taking action to minimize risks to the entire community."
All college-sponsored events prior to April 11 with expected attendance of more than 20 people taking place on campus or off campus will be postponed, canceled or virtualized, the school said. Additionally, all home and away athletic events will continue as scheduled, however, spectators at home events will be limited to current students and athletic staff, until April 11.