Coronavirus Communications Archive


Lenoir-Rhyne University communicates regularly about COVID-19 with the LR community. 

Latest Updates - May 2022

  • Update to LR Mask Protocols
    Wearing masks indoors will be optional effective Friday, March 18, in all areas of campus except the classrooms (on all three campuses). Revised classroom protocols for wearing masks will be effective Monday, March 21. View protocols.
  • Mass Transit Travel Requirements/Policies
    As a reminder, our updated policies require anyone who travels via mass transit (plane, bus, train, etc.) to test negative upon return to campus, regardless of vaccination status. Please communicate with either katie.fisher@lr.edu (students), judy.lineberger@lr.edu (faculty) or angelene.fortune@lr.edu (staff) before and after travel if you are traveling via mass transit so you are aware of the updated protocols pending your current vaccination status.
  • Statement on Vaccines Moving Forward
    Lenoir-Rhyne has recently received a few questions regarding our COVID-19 vaccine requirements for the 2022-23 academic year. Policies and decisions regarding our COVID-19 protocols are vetted and screened through our COVID-19 Task Force, which comprises faculty, staff, students and our local health care community. We aim to share any new policies by July 1. Read the full statement.

May 2022

  • May 15, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    LR reports one new positive case in Hickory this past week, as one staff member tested positive. 
     
    COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff and students continues to be readily available at all campus locations, and we have a good supply of testing kits. You may test on request at each of our campus locations. 
     
    Several of you have requested information about receiving a second booster vaccine. The CDC recommends a second booster for those 50 years and older, and for anyone who may be of risk given underlying health conditions. Please check with you primary health provider and note the most recent information of the CDC website.
     
    The updated dashboard is listed below. Thank you for your support and assistance.
     

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases Staff Student
    May 8-14 1 1 0
    May 1-7 4 3 1
    April 24-30 3 2 1
    April 17-23 4 4 0
    April 10-16 2 2 0
    April 3-9 1 0 1
    March 27–April 2 0 0 0
    March 20-26 1 0 1
    March 13-19 1 0 1
    March 6-12 1 1 0
    Feb. 27-March 5 0 0 0
    Feb. 20-26 1 0 1
    Feb. 13-19 5 0 5
    Feb. 6-12 15 4 11
    Jan. 30-Feb. 5 10 3 7
    Jan. 23-29 16 10 6

     

  • May 8, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    Congratulations to everyone for finishing the 2021-22 academic year and, especially, to those who graduated last week!
     
    In our last update for the year, LR reports two new positive cases last week, a student and staff member in Hickory.
     
    COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff and students continues to be readily available at all campus locations, and we have a good supply of testing kits. You may test on the Hickory campus Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. and on request in Columbia and Asheville.
     
    Several of you have requested information about receiving a second booster vaccine. The CDC recommends a second booster for those 50 years and older and for anyone who may be of moderate risk given underlying health conditions. Please check with your primary healthcare provider and note the most recent information of the CDC website.
      
    The updated dashboard is below. Thank you for your support and assistance throughout the year. I hope you have a safe and enjoyable summer.

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases Staff Student
    May 1-7 2 1 1
    April 24-30 4 2 2
    April 17-23 4 4 0
    April 10-16 2 2 0
    April 3-9 1 0 1
    March 27–April 2 0 0 0
    March 20-26 1 0 1
    March 13-19 1 0 1
    March 6-12 1 1 0
    Feb. 27-March 5 0 0 0
    Feb. 20-26 1 0 1
    Feb. 13-19 5 0 5
    Feb. 6-12 15 4 11
    Jan. 30-Feb. 5 10 3 7
    Jan. 23-29 16 10 6

     

  • May 1, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    This is our last week of the 2022-23 academic year at Lenoir-Rhyne—our 130th year as an institution. Working through the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years has challenged us in ways we never could have imagined. Thank you to all LR faculty, staff and students who have been so supportive of our policies and procedures and to the COVID-19 Task Force.
     
    LR reports four new positive cases this past week. There was one positive case in Columbia and three in Hickory, two faculty/staff and two students. We also will update the dashboard from the previous week April 17-23 as we had one report of a positive case from a faculty/staff member on the Hickory campus that was shared later in the week.
     
    COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff and students continues to be readily available at all campus locations, and we have a good supply of testing kits. You may test on the Hickory campus Monday-Friday from 9-11 a.m. and on request in Columbia and Asheville.
     
    As you make plans for commencement or other programs on campus, please remember that anyone who is not up to date with vaccines and boosters is required to wear a mask at all times indoors. 

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases Staff Student
    April 24-30 4 2 2
    April 17-23 4 4 0
    April 10-16 2 2 0
    April 3-9 1 0 1
    March 27–April 2 0 0 0
    March 20-26 1 0 1
    March 13-19 1 0 1
    March 6-12 1 1 0
    Feb. 27-March 5 0 0 0
    Feb. 20-26 1 0 1
    Feb. 13-19 5 0 5
    Feb. 6-12 15 4 11
    Jan. 30-Feb. 5 10 3 7
    Jan. 23-29 16 10 6

April 2022

  • April 25, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    We are in the last week of classes, and exams begin Friday. We are close to making it through another semester of successful COVID-19 management. Thanks to each of you who has been committed to following our protocols and procedures for the past two years.
     
    LR reports three new positive cases this past week. There was one positive case in Columbia and two in Hickory; all three were faculty and staff. We also will update the dashboard from the previous week, April 10-16, as we had two reports of positive cases from faculty and staff on the Hickory campus that were shared later in the week.
     
    COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff and students continues to be readily available at all campus locations, and we have a good supply of testing kits. You may test on the Hickory campus Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and on request in Columbia and Asheville.
     
    As you make plans for commencement or other programs on campus, please remember that anyone who is not up to date with vaccines and boosters is required to wear a mask at all times indoors. 
     
    Thank you for your support and assistance. The updated dashboard is provided below. 

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases Staff Student
    April 17-23 4 4 0
    April 10-16 2 2 0
    April 3-9 1 0 1
    March 27–April 2 0 0 0
    March 20-26 1 0 1
    March 13-19 1 0 1
    March 6-12 1 1 0
    Feb. 27-March 5 0 0 0
    Feb. 20-26 1 0 1
    Feb. 13-19 5 0 5
    Feb. 6-12 15 4 11
    Jan. 30-Feb. 5 10 3 7
    Jan. 23-29 16 10 6
  • April 17, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    LR has two positive cases reported this past week, April 10-16. The good news is only two positive cases have been reported in the previous four weeks, and only five positive cases in the past two months.
     
    COVID testing for faculty, staff and students continues to be readily available at all campus locations, and we have a good supply of testing kits. You may test on the Hickory campus Monday-Friday from 9-11a.m., and on request in Columbia and Asheville.
     
    As you make plans for commencement or other programs on campus, please remember that anyone who is not up to date with vaccines and boosters is required to wear a mask at all times. 
     
    Thank you for your support and assistance. The updated dashboard is listed below.

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases Staff Student
    April 10-16 2 2 0
    April 3-9 1 0 1
    March 27–April 2 0 0 0
    March 20-26 1 0 1
    March 13-19 1 0 1
    March 6-12 1 1 0
    Feb. 27-March 5 0 0 0
    Feb. 20-26 1 0 1
    Feb. 13-19 5 0 5
    Feb. 6-12 15 4 11
    Jan. 30-Feb. 5 10 3 7
    Jan. 23-29 16 10 6

     

  • April 10, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    LR has one positive case that was self-reported this past week, April 3-9. This was a student at our Asheville campus. The data continue to indicate a significant decrease of positive cases at all campus locations, as well as in the Hickory, Columbia and Asheville communities.

    COVID testing for faculty, staff and students continues to be readily available at all campus locations, and we have a good supply of testing kits. You may test on the Hickory campus M-F from 9-11 AM, and on request in Columbia and Asheville.

    As you make plans for commencement or other programs on campus, please remember that anyone who is not up to date with vaccines and boosters is required to wear a mask at all times. 

    Please remember the mass transit policy if you are traveling during the Easter weekend and our Friday holiday for campus. We will do some additional random testing next week in response to the new COVID variant that is beginning to spread. 

    Travel safe and be careful. We love our Bears!

    The updated dashboard is listed below. Thank you for your support and assistance.

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases Staff Student
    April 3-9 1 0 1
    March 27-April 2 0 0 0
    March 20-26 1 0 1
    March 13-19 1 0 1
    March 6-12 1 1 0
    Feb. 27-March 5 0 0 0
    Feb. 20-26 1 0 1
    Feb. 13-19 5 0 5
    Feb. 6-12 15 4 11
    Jan. 30-Feb. 5 10 3 7
    Jan. 23-29 16 10 6

     

  • April 3, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    LR has zero positive cases self-reported this past week, March 27-April 2. In addition, we continue to test those who are not vaccinated due to approved vaccine exemptions and our student-athletes according to NCAA guidelines and have no cases from that testing. The data continue to indicate a significant decrease of positive cases at all campus locations, as well as in the Hickory, Columbia and Asheville communities.

    COVID-19 testing for faculty, staff and students is readily available at all campus locations, and we have a good supply of testing kits.

    As you make plans for commencement or other programs on campus, please remember that anyone who is not up to date with vaccines and boosters is required to wear a mask when indoors.

    Please see the statement regarding future COVID-19 vaccine requirements.

    The updated dashboard is listed below. Thank you for your support and assistance.

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases Staff Student
    March 27-April 2 0 0 0
    March 20-26 1 0 1
    March 13-19 1 0 1
    March 6-12 1 1 0
    Feb. 27-March 5 0 0 0
    Feb. 20-26 1 0 1
    Feb. 13-19 5 0 5
    Feb. 6-12 15 4 11
    Jan. 30-Feb. 5 10 3 7
    Jan. 23-29 16 10 6

     

March 2022

  • March 27, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    LR has one positive case that was self-reported this past week, March 20-26. This was a student at our Hickory campus who has not yet returned from spring break. The data continue to indicate a significant decrease of positive cases at all campus locations, as well as in the Hickory, Columbia and Asheville communities.
     
    COVID testing for faculty, staff and students continues to be readily available at all campus locations, and we have a good supply of testing kits.
     
    As you make plans for commencement or other programs on campus, please remember that anyone who is not up to date with vaccines and boosters is required to wear a mask. 
     
    Please see the attached statement regarding future COVID vaccine requirements.
     
    The updated dashboard is listed below and will be posted to the website later today.

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases Staff Student
    Mar 14 – Mar 19 1 0 1
    Mar 6 – Mar 12 1 1 0
    Feb 27 – Mar 5 0 0 0
    Feb 20 – Feb 26 1 0 1
    Feb 13 – Feb 19 5 0 5
    Feb 6 - Feb 12 15 4 11
    Jan 30 - Feb 5 10 3 7
    Jan 23 - 29 16 10 6

     

  • March 27, 2022: Statement on Vaccines Moving Forward

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    Lenoir-Rhyne has recently received a few questions regarding our COVID vaccine requirements for the 2022-23 academic year. Our priority during the pandemic has been and will continue to be making decisions that prioritize the health, safety and well-being of our campus community. As we continue to live with the uncertainty and shifting landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic, LR remains committed to following the data and recommendations from health professionals and scientists, including the CDC.
     
    During the 2021-2022 year, LR required the vaccine and booster at each of our campus locations. Doing so allowed us to continue to provide the full LR experience – face-to-face classes, internships, clinical rotations, athletic events, and robust social and academic programming. Currently, more than 95% of our faculty, staff and students are fully vaccinated and boosted. As a result, COVID infection and transmission rates have been minimal on our campuses. In addition, LR recently lifted the indoor mask mandate requirement, and the campus has returned to normal operations.
     
    As we have seen over the past 24 months, the COVID landscape is continually evolving—new variants appear, as well as new treatments. While our current policy requires all students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated and boosted, it is too early to determine the protocols that LR will implement for the 2022-23 academic year.
     
    Policies and decisions regarding our COVID protocols are vetted and screened through our COVID Task Force, which comprises faculty, staff, students and our local health care community. We aim to share any new policies by July 1. Please know LR would continue to offer a process to request an exemption for documented, bona fide religious beliefs and medical contraindications.
     
    Working through the pandemic the past two years presented us with challenges unlike anything we have experienced. While we cannot predict the future, we will continue to monitor the data and follow guidelines and recommendations from health experts and the CDC. These recommendations will help us develop our protocols and guidelines for the 2022-23 academic year.
     
    Thank you for joining us in our efforts to keep the Lenoir-Rhyne community healthy and safe!

  • March 20, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    LR is pleased to report only one positive case self-reported this past week, March 13-19, from a Hickory student who lives off campus. The data continue to indicate a significant decrease of positive cases at all campus locations, as well as in the Hickory, Columbia and Asheville communities.

    Spring break return-to-campus testing last week revealed zero COVID-19 positive results from more than 620 tests. LR posted a revised indoor mask mandate at the end of last week, and there is no requirement to wear masks indoors unless an individual is not fully vaccinated and boosted. Through the end of the semester, course instructors will determine whether students wear masks in their classroom. The only exception are students who visit Cornerstone Health, where wearing masks may be required. 

    The updated dashboard is provided below and will be posted to the website later today. 

    Thank you for your support and assistance.

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases Staff Student

    Mar 14 – Mar 19

    1

    0

    1

    Mar 6 – Mar 12

    1

    1

    0

    Feb 27 – Mar 5

    0

    0

    0

    Feb 20 – Feb 26

    1

    0

    1

    Feb 13 – Feb 19

    5

    0

    5

    Feb 6 - Feb 12

    15

    4

    11

    Jan 30 - Feb 5

    10

    3

    7

    Jan 23 - 29

    16

    10

    6

  • March 17, 2022: Update to LR Mask Protocols

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR:  Dr. Fred Whitt, President
     
    Over the past few weeks, COVID infection rates in the community have improved significantly, and cases are declining each week.

    • LR community members have reported fewer than 1-2 COVID cases for several weeks.
    • LR has reported only one residential student or student-athlete with COVID in four weeks.
    • New positive cases and hospitalizations have significantly decreased in Catawba County (Hickory campus), Richland County (Columbia campus), and Buncombe County (Asheville campus).
    • Testing after spring break has resulted in zero cases from more than 600 tests to date.   
    • In addition, more than 95% of LR community members have been fully vaccinated and boosted.

    The COVID Task Force members overwhelmingly support a revision to our indoor mask requirement at each of our campus locations. As a result, please note our policy revisions. 

    • Wearing masks indoors will be optional effective Friday, March 18, in all areas of campus except the classrooms. Revised classroom protocols for wearing masks will be effective Monday, March 21 (see next bullet).  Masks will no longer be required in the chapels, gyms, auditoriums, libraries, student centers, dining halls, classroom building corridors and lounges, or in our residential housing facilities.
    • For the remainder of the semester and effective Monday, March 21, instructors in each course will determine whether masks will be required in their classroom. This is consistent with current practice of providing faculty the flexibility to manage their own classroom protocols.

    These policy revisions are effective on all three campuses with the following exceptions:

    • Individuals who are not vaccinated and fully boosted (if eligible) are required to wear masks when indoors. This includes those individuals who have an approved vaccine exemption, as well as UCHS students who have not been fully vaccinated and boosted.
    • Students visiting Cornerstone for health services may be required to wear masks and, if needed, masks will be provided when entering the facility.                                  

    Students will respect and adhere to the classroom mask protocols set by the instructor for their classroom space. There may be circumstances that merit wearing masks in classrooms and other instructional areas. LR trusts and provides the faculty/course instructor with the flexibility to manage their individual classroom. Anyone can continue to wear masks and should feel free to do so.

    Please know that we will continue to monitor our protocols weekly. LR reserves the right to revise our policies pending changing conditions. The health, safety and well-being of our campus communities remain our priority.
     
    This is an exciting milestone in our management of the pandemic, and I am grateful for your dedication and commitment in supporting our policies and procedures over the last two years.

  • March 14, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    LR is pleased to report only one positive case self-reported this past week, March 6-12, from a graduate student at our Columbia campus. The data indicate a significant decrease of positive cases at all campus locations, as well as in the Hickory, Columbia and Asheville communities
     
    The Catawba County Department of Public Health has suspended its weekly reporting of COVID cases and is now directing readers to the NC Department of Public Health. This site indicates a two-week average of new COVID cases by county.
     
    Our faculty and students return from spring break this week, and we are testing residential students on their return to campus and during the first week back. Testing also is available to all faculty, staff or students who would like to be tested this week from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on the Hickory campus and by appointment at the Asheville and Columbia campus locations. The COVID Task Force will meet Thursday March 17, and review any revisions to masking for the remainder of the semester.
     
    As a reminder, our updated policies require anyone who travels via mass transit (commercial plane, bus, train, etc.) at spring break or any other time to test negative upon return to campus, regardless of vaccination status. Please communicate with either Katie Fisher (students), Judy Lineberger (faculty) or Angelene Fortune (staff) before and after travel via mass transit. 
     
    We hope everyone had an enjoyable and well-deserved spring break, and we are looking forward to finishing the semester strong!
     
    The updated dashboard is provided below. Thank you for your support and assistance.
     

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases Staff Student
    Mar 6 – Mar 12 1 1 0
    Feb 27 – Mar 5 0 0 0
    Feb 20 – Feb 26 1 0 1
    Feb 13 – Feb 19 5 0 5
    Feb 6 - Feb 12 15 4 11
    Jan 30 - Feb 5 10 3 7
    Jan 23 - 29 16 10 6

     

  • March 7, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    LR is pleased to report zero positive cases self-reported this past week, Feb. 27-March 5, and only one case the previous week—a commuter student from the Hickory campus. The good news is the data indicate a significant decrease of positive cases at all campus locations, as well as in the Hickory, Columbia and Asheville communities

    We have the data for Catawba County, and the number of new weekly cases fell significantly from 625 to 155, and the number of hospitalizations dropped from 55 to 36. We hope these numbers will remain low over the next few weeks.

    Our faculty and students are on spring break this week, and we will be testing residential students on return to campus and during the first week back. Testing is open and will be available to all faculty, staff or students who would like to be tested next week. Our COVID Task Force will meet again Thursday March 17, and review any revisions to masking for the remainder of the semester.

    As a reminder, our updated policies require anyone who travels via mass transit (commercial plane, bus, train, etc.) at spring break or any other time to test negative upon return to campus, regardless of vaccination status. Please communicate with either Katie Fisher (students), Judy Lineberger (faculty) or Angelene Fortune (staff) before and after travel if you are traveling via mass transit so you are aware of the updated protocols pending your current vaccination status.  

    We hope everyone has an enjoyable and well-deserved spring break!

    The updated dashboard is provided below and will be posted to the website later today.

    Dates

    COVID Positive Cases

    Staff

    Student

    February 27-March 5 0 0 0
    February 20-26 1 0 1
    February 13-19 5 0 5
    February 6-12 15 4 11
    January 30-February 5 10 3 7
    January 23-29 16 10 6

    County Data

    Public health data for the three counties in which our campuses are located are available using the links below. 

    Thanks for your support and assistance.

February 2022

  • February 28, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    LR has only one total positive case self-reported this past week, Feb. 20-26—a commuter student from the Hickory campus. The good news is the data indicate a significant decrease of positive cases at all campus locations.

    Our COVID Task Force met this past week, and we are very aware of the new CDC recommendations regarding the wearing of masks. According to the CDC, if the community you reside is in the low or medium category for infection, then mask requirements in those areas could be reduced. Unfortunately, Catawba County (Hickory campus) and Richland County (Columbia campus) remain in the high category. Buncombe County (Asheville campus) is in the medium risk category. Our task force will continue to monitor and review any policy revisions after we return from spring break. The CDC data for each state and county is available online. 

    Spring break begins after classes this Friday, and we plan to test residential students upon their return to campus following spring break. Testing for all faculty and staff and commuter students also will be available. We will review and update mask requirements after what we hope will be a successful return to campus for COVID infection after spring break.

    As a reminder, our updated policies require anyone who travels via mass transit (plane, bus, train, etc.) at spring break or any other time to test negative upon return to campus, regardless of vaccination status. Please communicate with either Katie Fisher (students); Judy Lineberger (faculty) or Angelene Fortune (staff) before and after travel if you are traveling via mass transit so you are aware of the updated protocols pending your current vaccination status.  

    We hope everyone has an enjoyable and well-deserved spring break!

    The updated dashboard is provided below and will be posted to the website later today.

    Face to Face Classes

    COVID Positive Cases

    Staff

    Student

    February 20-26 1 0 1
    February 13-19 5 0 5
    February 6-12 15 4 11
    January 30-February 5 10 3 7
    January 23-29 16 10 6

    County Data 

    Public health data for the three counties in which our campuses are located are available using the links below. 

    Thanks for your support and assistance.

  • February 21, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    LR had five COVD cases self-reported from Feb. 13-19, one at the Asheville campus and four at the Hickory campus. All five reported cases were from students, one from a residential student. Positive cases this past week are well below the previous week’s total of 15. Please note that we have updated last week’s numbers from 10 to 15 to reflect several positive cases that were reported after the dashboard was published.

    As reported in a previous email, Catawba County has had a decrease in new positive cases each of the previous four weeks, but its highest number of weekly deaths reported from COVID since the pandemic began. We are monitoring carefully the new weekly cases and the number of hospitalizations so we do our part to support our local community.

    Spring break is less than two weeks away so please continue to wear masks indoors and follow protocols as we monitor our progress. We plan to test students upon return from spring break, and, if we continue to have fewer positive cases following spring break, we will review and update our mask requirements.

    The updated dashboard is provided below and will be posted to the website later today.

    Face to Face Classes

    COVID Positive Cases

    Staff

    Student

    Jan 23 - 29

    16

    10

    6

    Jan 30 - Feb 5

    10

    3

    7

    Feb 6 - Feb 12

    15

    4

    11

    Feb 13 – Feb 19

    5

    0

    5

    County Data

    Public health data for the three counties in which our campuses are located are available using the links below.

    Thanks for your support and assistance.

  • February 14, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    LR has 10 total positive cases self-reported this past week, Feb. 6-12—one at the Columbia campus and the other nine at the Hickory campus. Overall, we had two employees and eight students test positive last week, which is similar to the previous week’s data. As reported in a previous email, Catawba County has had a significant decrease in new positive cases each of the previous two weeks, but its highest number of weekly deaths reported from COVID since the pandemic began. 
     
    Spring break is just three weeks away so let’s continue to wear masks and follow protocols as we continue to monitor our progress and hope for better days ahead as the winter weather transitions to spring.
     
    The updated dashboard is provided below and will be posted to the website later today.
     

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases Staff Student

    January 23-29

    16

    10

    6

    January 30-February 5

    10

    3

    7

    February 6-12

    10

    2

    8

    County Data

    Public health data for the three counties in which our campuses are located are available using the links below.

  • February 8, 2022: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    It is hard to believe that we are close to marking our 24th month of living and working through the pandemic. None of us could have imagined we would still be navigating this pandemic in 2022; however, history tells us that previous pandemics have lasted two years or longer, even if these years feel much longer. I continue to be grateful for your support of our policies and procedures to keep our community safe and healthy.

    This COVID update contains two parts. The first is an update regarding COVID infections during the break, and the second contains updates for the two full weeks we have been back with normal class delivery. As you will see below, delaying the start of the first week of classes in January was an effective measure to allow the surge to subside. In addition, the two-day delay in beginning face-to-face classes due to weather issues was a blessing as related to COVID infection control. The data will be updated on our website later today.

    From Dec. 13 through Jan. 18, 263 faculty, staff and students self-reported a COVID infection; 49 of this group tested positive on their return to campus. LR experienced an estimated 4 percent to 5 percent positivity rate on return to campus testing, which prevented many who were positive but asymptomatic from returning to campus.

    Over the past two weeks we have experienced a significant decrease in the number of COVID positive cases among our students, faculty and staff at our three campus locations. We continue to see larger number of positive cases in faculty, staff and commuter students than residential students.
     

    University on Break COVID Positive Cases Self-Reported from LR Community

    Dec 12 - 18

    3

    Dec 19 - 25

    16

    Dec 26 - Jan 1

    41

    Jan 2 - 8

    68

    Jan 9 - 15

    87

    Jan 16 - 22*

    49

    Semester Break Subtotal

    263

    *Partial Week with only two days of face-to-face classes
     

    Face to Face Classes COVID Positive Cases

    Jan 23 - 29

    16

    Jan 30 - Feb 5

    10

    N-95 Masks Available

    Please know we have free N-95 certified masks available to anyone who would like one. Each VP on the Hickory campus has a supply as well as the main office at LTSS in Columbia and Asheville. If you need more, contact Cameron Womack in my office. 

    On-Campus Testing

    We have reduced the mandatory testing for those who are unvaccinated and have approved exemptions. Testing for these individuals will now be required once a week rather than three times per week as we had implemented in January. While testing kits are more difficult to obtain, we now have enough testing kits to manage through February, and hope to have more for the campus return following spring break.

    Updated Policies & Procedures

    Please review updated information regarding testing procedures and locations. Please read these carefully, as we are directing symptomatic individuals to Cornerstone on the Hickory campus, urgent care, your health care provider or other testing locations in your area.

    County Data

    Public health data for the three counties in which our campuses are located is available using the links below.

    Thanks for your support and assistance.

January 2022

  • January 3, 2022: Updated Isolation and Quarantine Protocols

    To: LR Students, Faculty and Staff (all campuses)
    From: Dr. Fred Whitt, President
    Subject: Updated COVID-19 Information if Tested Positive or Exposed
    Date: January 3, 2022

    The Center for Disease Control (CDC) revised the minimum guidelines for isolation and quarantine for those individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

    Lenoir-Rhyne has reviewed these recommendations and discussed with the health and medical experts.  Given the updated information and the recommendations, the following protocols are effective December 22, 2021.

    Lenoir-Rhyne reserves the right to make individual modifications to this policy based on circumstances related to exposure or circumstances pertaining to individual diagnosis.

    Isolation for those who test positive for COVID-19

    Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, must adhere to the following:

    • Isolate at home for a minimum of 5 days and wear your mask if around anyone at home.
    • You may end your isolation after 5 days if you have no symptoms, or your symptoms have resolved and you are without fever.
    • Continue to wear a mask indoors and outdoors when around others for five additional days.
    • Your health care provider must approve your return to classes and activities.  You may also be approved to return if seen by Cornerstone Health on campus.

    Quarantine for those who are exposed to COVID-19

    Anyone who has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must adhere to the following, depending on your vaccine status:

    • No quarantine if fully boosted or fully vaccinated and are not yet eligible for the booster vaccine, you simply wear a mask for 10 days and rapid test on day five. If you develop symptoms, get a COVID-19 test and remain at home until you know the results.
    • If unvaccinated or fully vaccinated and eligible for the booster, but not yet boosted, you are required to quarantine at home for five days and wear a mask for an additional 5 days. You may exit quarantine when testing negative on day 5 and continue to be without symptoms. If you test positive, then you follow the isolation protocols above.

    Required Reporting

    Report COVID-19 exposure and positive diagnosis to katie.fisher@lr.edu (students), judy.lineberger@lr.edu (faculty) or angelene.fortune@lr.edu (staff).

    All students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must receive written medical clearance before returning to campus from a personal healthcare provider or from LR Cornerstone Health (Mary Fran Sears, PA-C). Cornerstone Health can be reached at 828.328.7959.

December 2021

  • December 31, 2021: COVID-19 Update (Delayed Start of Classes Until Jan. 18, 2022)

    To: LR Students, Faculty and Staff
    From: Dr. Fred Whitt, President
    Subject: Updated COVID-19 Information (Delayed Start of Classes Until January 18, 2022)
    Date: December 31, 2021

    Lenoir-Rhyne has made the decision to delay the start of classes until Tuesday, January 18 for the 2022 spring semester. 

    Plans for making up the missed class days will be finalized and announced soon. 

    Rationale for Revising the Start Date

    1. Significant increase in positive COVID-19 cases within our LR community
    2. Provides additional time for the “holiday COVID-19 surge” to subside
    3. Provides time for the LR community to become “fully boosted” before classes begin 
    4. The plan for missed class time will be finalized and announced soon

    For Clarification, LR is Adhering to the Following Definitions:

    • Fully vaccinated: two weeks beyond the second shot of Moderna or Pfizer, or two weeks beyond the Johnson & Johnson shot.
    • Fully boosted: two weeks beyond the booster shot of either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine (medical experts have not recommended the Johnson & Johnson for the booster). 
    • Eligible for the Booster: at least six months beyond the second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine; two months after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
    • Isolation: applies to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
    • Quarantine: applies to a person who has been exposed to COVID-19.

    Key Points to Emphasize for Spring Semester

    • Everyone eligible should receive the booster ASAP to be fully boosted by the return date.
    • Students who are not yet 18 are encouraged to get the Pfizer booster and are required to be fully vaccinated.
    • Eligible student-athletes should get their booster by January 3 in order to practice January 10.
    • Being fully vaccinated no longer exempts one from quarantine if exposed to COVID-19
    • Being fully boosted eliminates surveillance testing and quarantine if asymptomatic.
    • LR isolation and quarantine requirements are revised based on new CDC guidelines.
    • Expectations for wearing masks indoors will be increased and closely monitored.

    Returning to Campus and Move-In 

    • The office of Student Life will distribute information on testing and move-in dates.
    • All student-athletes and on-campus residential students at the Hickory campus will receive a rapid test upon arrival and prior to move in. 
    • All other faculty, staff and students are required to have a negative rapid or PCR test two to three days before arriving on campus. You may test in the Athletic Training Lab.
    • Commuter students at the Hickory campus are also required to have a rapid COVID-19 test during the first week of class. Tests are free and available on campus. 
    • Students fully vaccinated, but not yet eligible for the booster, return to campus and engage as before. These individuals will schedule the booster when eligible.
    • Students in face-to-face classes at the Columbia and Asheville campus locations are required to have a negative rapid or PCR test two to three days before the first day of classes. 
    • International students who are not able to change flights will have flexibility to arrive earlier.
    • Students: Submit your Negative COVID-19 Test Result for Spring 2022

                      

    Students - Submit a Negative COVID-19 Test Result for Spring 2022
  • December 28, 2021: COVID-19 Update (Students - Submitting Booster Vaccination Documentation)

    Please Note: Lenoir-Rhyne University has delayed the start of classes until January 18, 2022.

    To: LR Students (all campuses)
    From: Dr. Fred Whitt, President
    Subject: COVID-19 Update - Submitting Booster Vaccination Documentation
    Date: Updated December 28, 2021

    This email is a follow-up to the Dec. 23 communication that indicated that the COVID-19 booster vaccine would be required for the spring semester and includes updated return-to-campus policies and procedures that are effective immediately. These updates replace previous policies and procedures and will be updated online, as well.

    Rationale

    The COVID infection surge is real and new infections in Catawba County have increased 140 percent since Thanksgiving. The vaccination rate in Catawba County is close to 50 percent, which is well below what is recommended to reduce the spread of COVID infection. While Buncombe County (NC) and Richland County (SC) have higher rates of vaccination, the virus is still infecting significant numbers of people surrounding all of our campuses. Science has indicated the vaccine’s effectiveness wanes from a high of 93 percent to a low of 25 percent to 30 percent after six months. These are reasons alone to support a required booster vaccine. In addition, the omicron variant is now the dominant COVID variant in the United States and is highly contagious, even among those who have been vaccinated. Vaccinations and boosters are effective at helping protect against severe disease. 

    Lenoir-Rhyne was able to have a successful fall semester, with campus life and classes returning to as normal as possible. This was due to the commitment of the LR community to be fully vaccinated and wearing masks indoors. Our COVID Task Force continues to monitor national, state and local conditions in consultation with our infectious disease and public health experts. Our COVID Task Force and the President’s Leadership Team believe it is vital that we take the necessary steps to keep our campus and community safe.  Effective immediately, Lenoir-Rhyne University will require all students and employees to provide proof of receiving the COVID-19 booster shot. We believe that vaccine boosters and wearing masks indoors are our best chance to resume class and campus activities for the spring semester and to keep our campus community as safe as possible from COVID infection.

    Booster Vaccine & Reporting

    All students, including anyone registered for classes at any of our three campus locations, are required to provide evidence of completing the COVID vaccine booster shot when eligible. This is effective immediately and verification should be submitted prior to January 10, and no later than January 31, 2022, to be fully compliant with this requirement. Students may take any of the vaccine boosters regardless of the type administered when fully vaccinated. Medical experts have recommended those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine be boosted with either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine.

    Upload Student COVID-19 Booster Documentation

    Upload Student COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation (non-booster)

    If you experience problems with the form, please submit a help desk ticket to oit.helpdesk@lr.edu.

    Eligibility

    Following CDC Guidelines, students are eligible for the COVID booster vaccine if they are 16 years or older and six months from the second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two months from the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. 

    The CDC has recommended only the Pfizer booster vaccine for those students ages 16 and 17.

    Students not yet eligible for the COVID booster vaccine must get their COVID booster vaccine shot within one week after becoming eligible for the booster. For example, if you received your second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine August 5, 2021, then you would become eligible for the booster shot on February 5, 2022. You would then be expected to submit verification of your booster no later than February 12, 2022. Students not yet eligible for the booster will return to class as normal and get their booster when scheduled.

    Exemptions

    • Graduate students who are in degree programs that are fully online and will not be on campus for any reason during the semester. These students must request a waiver from the Dean of Students by emailing katie.fisher@lr.edu to request the form and the link. Students enrolled in online classes that include internships, observations, practicum, clinical labs, etc., are required to submit a vaccine booster.
    • Fully vaccinated students who have tested positive for COVID since Dec 1, 2021. These individuals should wait until four weeks have passed since their last day of infection.
    • At this time, students who have not yet reached the age of 18 are not required to submit a booster, but are still required to be fully vaccinated.
    • Students who received a medical or religious vaccine exemption from LR during the fall 2021 semester are not required to submit verification of the vaccine booster. However, these students are required to wear a mask at all times (indoors and outdoors), and to undergo surveillance testing three times weekly.
    • Lenoir-Rhyne is no longer considering additional medical or religious vaccine exemption applications from students who were enrolled during the 2021 fall semester.
    • The deadline for submitting a COVID vaccine exemption for medical or religious reasons for returning LR students who were not enrolled in the 2021 fall semester was Dec. 10. 
    • New students who were admitted to LR on or after Dec 10, 2021 and would like to register for classes in the 2022 spring semester are required to be fully vaccinated prior to classes beginning on Jan 10. These students will also be required to have the booster vaccine when eligible. 

    Surveillance Testing

    In addition to the COVID vaccine booster requirement, residential students and all student athletes will undergo a rapid antigen COVID test when they return to campus. On-campus residential students will be tested prior to moving into their residence halls and or apartments. It is highly recommended all commuter students undergo a rapid test with two days of your first class on campus.

    LR will also conduct surveillance testing three times weekly for those individuals who have not yet received the booster vaccine. Once students have received their booster vaccine, they are not required to undergo surveillance testing unless they exhibit COVID symptoms or are exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID.

    Masking

    All students, regardless of vaccine status, will be required to wear an appropriate mask at all times indoors. The masks must cover the nose and mouth and fit over the chin. The only exception to wearing a mask indoors is when eating or drinking in the dining hall, or alone in your room with your roommate. Masks are required when entering the dining hall and selecting your food, as well as in all buildings on campus.

    Student athletes will follow NCAA and SAC guidelines on mask wearing when participating in competition and practices.

    While masks are not required outdoors for those who are fully vaccinated and boosted, it is highly recommended everyone wear masks outdoors when social distancing is not possible. 
    Students who do not comply with the mask requirement will face consequences, as they will be in violation of the student conduct code related to COVID protocols.

    Other Infection Control Measures

    Many of the previous COVID infections in students have come from exposure off campus. Please protect yourself when in congregate environments, such as restaurants, retail stores, with family and friends, and other social settings. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, practice physical distancing when possible, and wear your mask. 

    We can help control our infection rate by reporting ASAP any exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID. Please report to Dean Katie Fisher (828.328.7246) at katie.fisher@lr.edu.

    Quarantine & Isolation

    The CDC has updated their recommendations for implementing quarantine and isolation protocols. If you test positive for COVID, you are required to isolate for five days rather than ten, if asymptomatic, and wear a mask for 10 days. LR requires you receive medical clearance to return to work after testing positive for COVID.

    Once vaccine boosted, there is no required quarantine if exposed to someone who tested positive with COVID unless you becomes symptomatic and test positive. You will be required to wear a mask at all times for 10 days after exposure.

    Those who are fully vaccinated and eligible for the booster will be required to quarantine for five days until vaccine boosted when exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID. You will also need to wear a mask for 10 days at all times

    Once again, I thank you for your commitment to these policies to help Protect Our Den and keep our community safe. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. 

  • December 28, 2021: COVID-19 Update (Faculty, Staff & Associates - Submitting Booster Vaccination Documentation)

    Please Note: Lenoir-Rhyne University has delayed the start of classes until January 18, 2022.

    To: LR Faculty, Staff & Associate Staff (Aramark, Ellucian, Follett, Budd Group, HPD and CVMC employees)
    From: Dr. Fred Whitt, President
    Subject: COVID-19 Update - Submitting Booster Vaccination Documentation
    Date: Updated December 28, 2021

    This email is a follow-up to the Dec. 23 communication that indicated that the COVID-19 booster vaccine would be required for the spring semester and includes updated return-to-campus policies and procedures that are effective immediately. These updates replace previous policies and procedures and will be updated online, as well.

    Rationale

    The COVID infection surge is real and new infections in Catawba County have increased 140 percent since Thanksgiving. The vaccination rate in Catawba County is close to 50 percent, which is well below what is recommended to reduce the spread of COVID infection. While Buncombe County (NC) and Richland County (SC) have higher rates of vaccination, the virus is still infecting significant numbers of people in the communities surrounding all our campuses. Science has indicated the vaccine’s effectiveness wanes from a high of 93 percent to a low of 25 percent to 30 percent after six months. These are reasons alone to support a required booster vaccine. In addition, the omicron variant is now the dominant COVID variant in the United States and is highly contagious, even among those who have been vaccinated. Vaccinations and boosters are effective at helping protect against severe disease. 

    Lenoir-Rhyne was able to have a successful fall semester, with campus life and classes returning to as normal as possible. This was due to the commitment of the LR community to be fully vaccinated and wearing masks indoors. Our COVID Task Force continues to monitor national, state and local conditions in consultation with our infectious disease and public health experts. Our COVID Task Force and the President’s Leadership Team believe it is vital that we take the necessary steps to keep our campus and community safe. Effective immediately, Lenoir-Rhyne University will require all students and employees to provide proof of receiving the COVID-19 booster shot. We believe that vaccine boosters and wearing masks indoors are our best chance to resume class and campus activities for the spring semester and to keep our campus community as safe as possible from COVID infection.

    Booster Vaccine & Reporting

    All Lenoir-Rhyne full- and part-time employees (including employees of associate partners) at each of our three campus locations are required to provide evidence of completing the COVID vaccine booster shot when eligible. This is effective immediately and verification should be submitted prior to January 10, and no later than January 31, 2022, to be fully compliant with this requirement. Employees may take any of the vaccine boosters regardless of the type the originally received. Medical experts have recommended those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine be boosted with either the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine.

    Upload for Faculty & Staff Booster Vaccine Documentation

    Please know this is a different reporting process from the Paycom system we used last semester. If you experience problems with the form, please submit a help desk ticket to oit.helpdesk@lr.edu.

    Upload Faculty & Staff COVID-19 Booster Documentation

    Associate Staff

    Employees from our associate partners should report their booster documentation to their supervisor. 

    Eligibility

    Following CDC guidelines, all employees are eligible for the COVID booster vaccine if they are 18 years or older and six months from the second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or two months from the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. 

    Employees not yet eligible for the COVID booster vaccine must get their COVID booster vaccine shot within one week after becoming eligible for the booster. For example, if you received your second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine August 5, 2021, then you would become eligible for the booster shot on February 5, 2022. You would then be expected to submit verification of your booster no later than February 12, 2022. These individuals would still return to work as normal and get their booster when eligible.

    Exemptions

    • Fully vaccinated employees who have tested positive for COVID since Dec 1, 2021. These individuals should wait until four weeks have passed since their last day of infection before getting their booster vaccine.
    • Employees who received a medical or religious vaccine exemption for the academic year from LR during the fall 2021 semester are not required to submit verification of the vaccine booster. However, these individuals are required to wear a mask at all times (indoors and outdoors), and to undergo surveillance testing three times weekly.
    • Lenoir-Rhyne will consider medical or religious vaccine exemption applications from those employees hired since December 10, 2021. If the exemption application is denied, then the employee will not begin work until they have been fully vaccinated. They will be required to take the booster vaccine when eligible.

    Surveillance Testing

    In addition to the COVID vaccine booster requirement, it is recommended that all employees get a rapid antigen COVID vaccine test within two days before their return to campus. Free testing is available on campus in the Athletic Training Lab. While this is not required for employees, it is highly recommended.

    LR will also conduct surveillance testing three times weekly for those individuals who have not yet received the booster vaccine. Once employees have received their booster vaccine, they are not required to undergo surveillance testing unless they exhibit COVID symptoms or are exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID.

    Masking

    All faculty, staff and employees, regardless of vaccine status, will be required to wear an appropriate mask at all times indoors. The masks must cover the nose and mouth and fit over the chin. The only exception to wearing a mask indoors is when eating or drinking in the dining hall, or alone in one’s office.  Masks are required when entering the dining hall and selecting your food, as well as in all buildings on campus. Employees teaching or coaching may wear a face shield during their presentations if desired.

    Athletic coaches will follow NCAA and SAC guidelines on mask wearing when participating in competition and practices.

    While masks are not required at this time when outdoors for those who are fully vaccinated and boosted, it is highly recommended everyone wear masks outdoors when social distancing is not possible. It is important all employees comply with the mask requirement and help us reinforce to students the importance of wearing masks in all indoor settings. Students who do not comply with the mask requirement will face consequences, as they will be in violation of the student conduct code related to COVID protocols.

    Other Infection Control Measures

    Many of the previous COVID infections within the LR community have come from COVID exposure off campus, not in on-campus instructional settings. Please protect yourself when in congregate environments, such as restaurants, retail stores, with family and friends, and other social settings. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, practice physical distancing when possible, and wear your mask indoors both on and off campus. 

    We can help control our infection rate by reporting ASAP any exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID. 

    Staff should report to Angelene Fortune at angelene.fortune@lr.edu, and faculty should report to Judy Lineberger at judy.lineberger@lr.edu.

    Quarantine & Isolation

    The CDC has updated their recommendations for implementing quarantine and isolation protocols. If you test positive for COVID, you are required to isolate for five days rather than ten, if asymptomatic, and wear a mask for 10 days. LR requires you receive medical clearance to return to work after testing positive for COVID.

    Once vaccine boosted, there is no required quarantine if exposed to someone who tested positive with COVID unless you becomes symptomatic and test positive.  You will be required to wear a mask at all times for 10 days after exposure.

    Those who are fully vaccinated and eligible for the booster will be required to quarantine for five days until vaccine boosted when exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID. You will also need to wear a mask for 10 days at all times

    Once again, I thank you for your commitment to these policies to help Protect Our Den and keep our community safe. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. 

  • December 23, 2021: COVID-19 Update (Booster Requirement)

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    Good afternoon to our LR community! I trust you are settling in for a well-deserved semester break and are enjoying time with your family and friends during this season of reflection, joy and thanksgiving. I realize this is a long message, but I hope you will read it carefully.

    A year ago, we were all glad to see the end of 2020 and were optimistic that a vaccine would soon be available to help us move beyond COVID. Yet here we are today in a situation of continuing uncertainty regarding the pandemic, COVID infection surges, and new variants. Unfortunately, we move into 2022 wondering when all of this will end, and things will return to normal.

    Just since Thanksgiving, new weekly COVID cases in Catawba County have increased approximately 140 percent, from 181 to more than 435 cases; hospitalizations have doubled; and the county’s fully vaccinated rate is just over 50 percent. These are discouraging numbers, but somewhat predicted with the expected surge of exposure during the Thanksgiving holidays. We now have the new omicron variant that is more contagious, and we are unsure of the affect this will have on our community and region. In addition, the science is clear the vaccine protection wanes from a high of 93 percent effective to a low of 25 percent to 30 percent effective after six months from the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines and two months after the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

    We must respond to these challenges so we can continue to provide a campus experience that prioritizes the health, safety, and well-being of our entire campus community. To that end, our administrative team has been in communication, and our COVID Task Force held a called meeting this morning to discuss the best course of action for LR moving forward.  

    COVID-19 Booster Requirement

    We have carefully reviewed the science, recommendations from the CDC, state and local health experts, and how our peers are approaching the 2022 spring semester.  As a result, the COVID Task Force and our administrative team have recommended that LR require the COVID-19 booster shot for all eligible faculty, staff and students for the spring semester on the Hickory, Asheville and Columbia campuses. 

    The effective date will be January 1, and individuals will have until January 31 to be fully compliant. The booster requirement does not apply to those few individuals who have an existing vaccine exemption. Individuals who reach their eligibility for the booster after January 31 will be required to have their booster shot within a week of their eligibility date. Booster eligibility is six months following the second shot of the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine and two months following the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. Instructions on how to upload your updated vaccine card showing your booster shot will be sent next week to students, faculty and staff.

    If we have a fully vaccinated campus that has also been vaccine boosted, re-commit to wearing masks indoors and continue surveillance testing, we believe we can resume normal campus operations for the spring semester as scheduled, similar to the 2021 fall experience. Faculty and students will be engaged in face-to-face teaching and learning activities in and outside the classroom with normal class sizes. Extracurricular, athletic and social activities will continue as they did in fall, and we will provide the full LR experience in a healthy and safe environment.

    LR faculty, staff and our students have been incredibly resilient during the COVID pandemic, and we appreciate your support and commitment as we continue to lead and manage through these times of uncertainty.

    Merry Christmas and Go Bears!

  • December 13, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    Good morning.

    It is important to note the significant increase in new COVID cases in Catawba County this past week. The Catawba County Public Health Dashboard is updated each Wednesday at 3 p.m. New positive cases increased 79 percent in one week and 150 percent in the past two weeks. New weekly cases have not been this high in our county since early September. In addition, new hospitalizations from COVID are up 30 percent in one week and 63 percent in the past two weeks. These are not positive data and show the surge from the Thanksgiving week.

    Lenoir-Rhyne was fortunate to have a safe return to campus following the Thanksgiving break. The continued good news at Lenoir-Rhyne is we had no positive cases from the 42 surveillance tests conducted during the week of exams. There was one new positive case self-reported from a staff member at Hickory.

    LR will be testing all students when they return to campus in January, and we will continue to conduct weekly COVID testing similar to fall semester. To ensure the safest campus possible, LR strongly recommends that all faculty, staff and students get a booster vaccine prior to returning for the 2022 spring semester.

    This will be our final COVID report for the semester, as students completed finals last Thursday, and the university will close for the semester break effective at 2 p.m. on Dec. 17 and remained closed through Monday, Jan. 3, 2022. The University will open on Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022.

    We hope everyone has a safe, restful and enjoyable break!

    The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    December 6 – December 12, 2021

    • LR Vaccination Rate 99.3%
    • Total Tested this week 42
    • Positive Cases from Testing 0    
    • Positivity Rate 0%
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases 1
    • Breakthrough Cases* 1

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive

    Please note the section below pertaining to international travel.

    International Travel

    Due to the changing conditions with the COVID omicron variant and the potential for additional US restrictions on international flights, LR highly recommends international students get their booster vaccine before leaving the US to travel internationally over the semester break.

    We believe being fully vaccinated and having the booster provide the best chance for protection and should reduce any issues with re-entry to the US. Re-entry to campus will remain similar to last fall unless there is a need to revise over the next few weeks.

    LR will plan to test all students when they return to campus in January. All who are fully vaccinated will not be required to quarantine but will wear masks at all times until the multiple day testing is completed and the student is cleared.

    International students should frequently check for updates related to travel guidance from the CDC and LR.

    Recent changes require a rapid negative COVID test one day before the day of travel for international trips.

  • December 6, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    Please know that we will continue to provide free COVID testing for our LR community prior to the semester break. We would like to provide support to anyone who wants to be sure they have a negative COVID test prior to travel for the holidays and semester break. Our testing for the last week of the semester will continue to be in Room 105 of McCrorie or the Athletic Training Lab.

    • December 6-9, Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. 

    Catawba County Public Health reported 254 new positive cases last week, which is up significantly from the numbers reported the previous two weeks. Hospitalizations in Catawba County were up from 20 to 25, and new deaths from COVID were down from eight to five.   

    Lenoir-Rhyne had no positive cases from the 325 surveillance tests conducted this past week, which was increased due to campus return from Thanksgiving break. We did have one positive case self-reported from a Hickory commuter student and one positive case self-reported from a commuter student in Asheville. 

    The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    November 29-December 5, 2021

    • LR Vaccination Rate: 99.3%
    • Total Tested this week: 325
    • Positive Cases from Testing: 0    
    • Positivity Rate: 0%
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases: 2    
    • Breakthrough Cases*: 2 

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive

    International Travel

    Due to the changing conditions with the COVID omicron variant and the potential for additional US restrictions on international flights, LR highly recommends international students get their booster vaccine before leaving the US to travel internationally over the semester break.
     
    We believe being fully vaccinated and having the booster provide the best chance for protection and should reduce any issues with re-entry to the US. Re-entry to campus will remain similar to last fall unless there is a need to revise over the next few weeks.
     
    LR will plan to test all students when they return to campus in January. All who are fully vaccinated will not be required to quarantine, but will wear masks at all times until the multiple-day testing is completed and the student is cleared.

    International students should frequently check for updates related to travel guidance from the CDC and LR.

    Recent changes require a rapid negative COVID test one day before the day of travel for international trips

     View International Traveler Information

November 2021

  • November 29, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    Please know that we will continue to provide free COVID testing for our LR community prior to the semester break. We would like to provide support to anyone who wants to be sure they have a negative COVID test prior to any travel for the holidays and semester break. Our testing for the last two weeks of the semester will continue to be in Room 105 of McCrorie Center or the Athletic Training Lab.

    • Nov. 29 - Dec. 3 - Monday-Friday, 9-11 a.m.
    • Dec. 6-9 - Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

    Catawba County Public Health reported 185 new positive cases last week, which is the lowest number of new weekly cases since the last week in July. Hospitalizations in Catawba County were up from slightly from 17 to 20, and new deaths from COVID up from one to eight. 

    Lenoir-Rhyne had one positive case from a Hickory residential student during Thanksgiving week and no new positive cases self-reported. The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    November 22-28, 2021

    • LR Vaccination Rate: 99.3%
    • Total Tested this week: 31
    • Positive Cases from Testing: 1   
    • Positivity Rate: 3.2% (of those tested)
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases: 0              
    • Breakthrough Cases*: 1

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive

  • November 22, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    Our COVID vaccine booster clinic last Tuesday was a huge success. We had more than 150 faculty, staff and students participate, which exceeded our projection. In addition, many of our staff had already received their booster vaccine.

    As our LR community takes a well-deserved holiday break, we do wish everyone an enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving. I hope this will be a time of joy with you family and loved ones. Similar to the return following fall break, we will increase our rapid testing for residential students when they return to campus next week.

    Please know that we will continue to provide free COVID testing for our LR community prior to the semester break. We would like to provide support to anyone who wants to be sure they have a negative COVID test prior to any travel for the holidays and semester break. Our testing for the last few weeks of the semester will continue to be in Room 105 of McCrorie or the Athletic Training Lab.

    • Week of Thanksgiving: Monday and Tuesday, 9-11 a.m.
    • Last week of Classes:  Monday - Friday, 9-11 a.m.
    • Exam Week: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

    LR reports zero positive cases from 70 surveillance tests conducted last week. There was one new positive case self-reported from a commuter student in Hickory who was unvaccinated. 

    The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    November 15-21, 2021

    • LR Vaccination Rate: 99.3%
    • Total Tested this week: 70
    • Positive Cases from Testing: 0   
    • Positivity Rate: 0%
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases: 1            
    • Breakthrough Cases*: 0

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive

  • November 15, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    Our COVID-19 vaccine booster clinic is Tuesday, Nov. 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in P.E. Monroe Auditorium. LR strongly encourages all faculty, staff and students to get their booster vaccine so your protection from COVID will increase back to a maximum of near 95%.

    This is particularly important as you leave campus for Thanksgiving and the semester break. This booster is free, and you can simply walk in without an appointment.

    You are eligible if you received the second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine on or before May 30, 2021 or if you received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine on or before Sept.30, 2021

    The Office of the President is offering a $10 voucher card to Chick-fil-A on campus for the first 300 participants who get their booster Tuesday. The voucher is good through spring semester on campus.

    Lenoir-Rhyne reports no positive cases from 85 surveillance tests conducted last week. There was only one new positive case self-reported from a commuter student in Hickory.

    The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    November 8-14, 2021

    • LR Vaccination Rate: 99.3%
    • Total Tested this week: 85
    • Positive Cases from Testing: 0   
    • Positivity Rate: 0%
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases: 1              
    • Breakthrough Cases*: 1

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive

  • November 9, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    I am pleased to report for the first time since COVID began that LR reports zero positive cases of COVID infection at any LR campus from our surveillance testing or through self-reporting!

    This is excellent news and a positive development for our university community. It is the direct result of the good work from our LR faculty, staff and students at all campus locations following our protocols.  However, it is important we finish the semester strong so our faculty, staff and students are able to travel at the end of the semester without delay due to COVID. 

    LR will host its first vaccine booster clinic semester on Tuesday, November 16. The clinic will be held in PE Monroe Auditorium from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m..

    The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccine boosters will be available.  We strongly encourage all faculty, staff and students to get your booster vaccine next week so you can enjoy a safe holiday and semester break with as much protection as possible.

    All faculty, staff and students, including contract employees, who have been fully vaccinated, are eligible to receive the booster vaccine if your second vaccine of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine was on or before May 30, 2021. Those who were vaccinated with the Johnson and Johnson (J & J) vaccine are eligible to receive the booster if their vaccine was on or before September 30, 2021. In addition, anyone who would like to receive his or her first vaccine may do so at the booster clinic. Spouses and partners of our employees are invited to participate in the clinic.

    The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    November 1-7, 2021

    • LR Vaccination Rate: 99%
    • Total Tested this week: 81
    • Positive Cases from Testing: 0   
    • Positivity Rate: 0%
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases: 0            
    • Breakthrough Cases*: 0

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive

  • November 2, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    The Catawba County Public Health Dashboard reports a 45 percent increase in new COVID cases in our county last week, up to 401 new cases. Unfortunately, Catawba County remains well below the North Carolina state average for individuals who are fully vaccinated (< 50%).

    Cornerstone Health will hold its second flu vaccine clinic for faculty, staff and students on Thursday, Nov. 4, in PE Monroe Auditorium on the Hickory campus. We encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine on or before this date to benefit from maximum length of time for protection.

    The LR COVID-19 Booster Clinic has been scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 16, in PE Monroe Auditorium. All faculty, staff and students who have been fully vaccinated are eligible to receive the booster vaccine if your second vaccine of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine was on or prior to May 30, 2021. If your first vaccine was the Johnson and Johnson (J & J), you are eligible for the booster vaccine if your J & J vaccine was on or before September 30, 2021. In addition, anyone who received a vaccine exemption may schedule their first or second vaccine during the clinic.

    Lenoir-Rhyne reports no positive cases from 112 surveillance tests conducted last week. There was one positive case self-reported from a student in Hickory. The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    October 25-31, 2021

    • LR Vaccination Rate: 99%
    • Total Tested this week: 112
    • Positive Cases from Testing: 0   
    • Positivity Rate:  0%
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases: 1 (Hickory student)        
    • Breakthrough Cases*: 1

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive

     

October 2021

  • October 25, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    The Catawba County Public Health Dashboard reports an increase in new COVID deaths last week from 4 to 13. Unfortunately, our county remains well below the NC state average for individuals who are fully vaccinated (<50%). We had over 300 new positive cases last week in our county, which continues to be at a level as high or higher compared to last February. Wearing your mask when indoors on and off-campus is critically important to help prevent COVID infection on our campus and community.

    LR reports another good week relative to COVID infection from our testing and this included expanded testing on Monday, October 18 following Fall Break return to campus. Please know our lab in McCrorie #105 is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. and is open for anyone who would like to have a rapid COVID test.

    Cornerstone Health will hold their second flu vaccine clinic for faculty, staff, and students on Thursday, Nov. 4 in PE Monroe Auditorium. We encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine on or before this date to benefit from maximum length of time for protection.

    We are in the process of scheduling a booster COVID vaccine clinic for all three vaccines the week of November 8 or November 15. We are hoping to have Pfizer, Modern and the Johnson and Johnson booster vaccines available. We will also have vaccines available for anyone who received a temporary exemption and needs the initial vaccine to be fully vaccinated by the beginning of spring semester. More information regarding this clinic will be provided soon.

    Lenoir-Rhyne reports no positive cases from 256 surveillance tests conducted last week. There was only one positive case self-reported from a commuter student in Hickory. The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    October 18-24, 2021

    • LR Vaccination Rate: 99%
    • Total Tested this week: 256
    • Positive Cases from Testing: 0   
    • Positivity Rate: 0%
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases: 1 (commuter student in Hickory)              
    • Breakthrough Cases: 1*

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive.

  • October 18, 2021; COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    The Catawba County Public Health Dashboard reports an increase in both hospitalizations and new positive cases of COVID this past week. The positive cases in Catawba County were twice as high last week as the highest number of positive cases in our county anytime last March.

    With the return of students following Fall Break, we expanded our surveillance testing for residential students last week and will do this again this week as a precautionary measure. Our lab in McCrorie #105 is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. and will be open from 9 a.m. through 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 18. The good news is we had no positive cases from the over 200 tests conducted last week, and have not had a positive case reported from our residential student population in six weeks.

    Cornerstone Health will hold two flu vaccine clinics for faculty, staff, and students on Thursday, Oct. 21, and Thursday, Nov. 4 in PE Monroe Auditorium. We encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine within the next three weeks to benefit from the maximum length of time for protection.

    We are in the process of scheduling a booster COVID vaccine clinic for all three vaccines the week of November 8 or November 15. We are hoping to have Pfizer, Modern and the Johnson and Johnson booster vaccines available. We will also have vaccines available for anyone who received a temporary exemption and needs the initial vaccine to be fully vaccinated by the beginning of spring semester. More information regarding this clinic will be provided soon.

    Lenoir-Rhyne reports no positive cases from 220 surveillance tests conducted last week. There were two positive cases self-reported from commuter students in Hickory. The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    October 11 – 17, 2021

    • LR Vaccination Rate: 99%
    • Total Tested this week: 220
    • Positive Cases from Testing: 0   
    • Positivity Rate: 0%
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases: 2 (commuter students in Hickory)  
    • Breakthrough Cases: 2*

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive

  • October 11, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    The Catawba County Public Health Dashboard reports a second consecutive week with declining positive cases and hospitalizations. While this is positive, our cases remain at a level similar to the end of February a year ago. There were additional 15 COVID deaths reported this week in our county.

    We will also expand our surveillance testing for residential students when they return this week from fall break as a precautionary measure. Our lab in Room 105 McCrorie is open M-F from 9-11 AM, and will be opened from 9:00 AM through 1:00 PM Friday, October 15, and Monday, October 18. The good news is we have not had a positive case reported from our residential student population in over a month.

    Cornerstone Health will hold two flu vaccine clinics for faculty, staff, and students on October 21 and November 4. While currently scheduled to take place at Cornerstone, we are trying to change the location to Cromer to reach more students. We encourage everyone to get the flu vaccine within the next four weeks to benefit from maximum length of time for protection.

    In addition, we are working to schedule a Pfizer booster vaccine clinic on campus later this month or early November. All faculty, staff and students who were fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine will be eligible for the booster as long as your second vaccine was administered on before April 30, 2021. It is also perfectly acceptable to get your booster at CVS, Walgreens, and other health care providers. The booster shot is the same dose as the other two injections.

    Lenoir-Rhyne reports no positive cases from surveillance testing last week. There were two positive cases self-reported from commuter students in Hickory. The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    October 4-10, 2021

    • LR Vaccination Rate: 99%
    • Total Tested this Week: 88
    • Positive Cases from Testing: 0  
    • Positivity Rate: 0%
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases: 2 (commuter students in Hickory)
    • Breakthrough Cases: 2*

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive

     

  • October 4, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    Our COVID taskforce continues to meet and monitor COVID infections and provide updated recommendations as needed. As reported last week, we are continuing to require wearing masks indoors on campus, unless you are in your office or residence hall alone. Being fully vaccinated and wearing masks indoors continue to be our best measures to prevent infection and spread on campus. The data in Catawba County improved some this week as new cases and hospitalizations were down from the previous week. However, the county had another 17 deaths due to COVID during this same reporting period.

    Some of you have indicated a desire for LR to schedule a Pfizer booster vaccine clinic on campus this month so we can provide easy access for those who would like to get their booster shot. We are working through the Catawba County Heath Department and its vendors to schedule a date later this month. Any LR employee or student, as well as LR contract employees, who received their second Pfizer vaccine injection six months ago or more, should be eligible for the booster. We will confirm the booster clinic dates as soon as possible.

    You also may choose to receive your booster shot at CVS, Walgreens, and other health care providers. The booster shot is the same dose as the other two injections. While in discussion, there have been no new updates concerning boosters for the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  

    In addition, Cornerstone Health on campus is working with local health officials to schedule one or two flu vaccine clinics on campus, starting this month. Flu cases already have been reported in Catawba County, and we want to provide proactive opportunities for our LR community members to remain as safe as possible.

    Next week is fall break on Monday, Oct. 11, and Tuesday, Oct. 12. Faculty and students are off Monday and Tuesday, while the staff are off on Monday as most campus offices are closed Monday. Those who are required to be tested twice weekly for COVID will need to take only one test next week on either Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

    Lenoir-Rhyne reports no positive cases from surveillance testing last week. There were three positive cases self-reported—a commuter student and staff member in Hickory and one commuter student in Asheville. All positive cases this week were from individuals fully vaccinated. 

    The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    September 27 – October 3, 2021

    • LR Vaccination Rate: 99%
    • Total Tested this week: 103
    • Positive Cases from Testing: 0   
    • Positivity Rate: 0%
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases: 3 (one commuter student in Hickory.one in Asheville; one Hickory staff)
    • Breakthrough Cases*: 3

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive

    We continue to be thankful for the LR community supporting and embracing the requirement to become fully vaccinated so our campus can remain as safe as possible.

September 2021

  • September 27, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    As many of you know, the Pfizer booster was recently approved for those individuals over 65 years or age, as well as those who have underlying medical conditions such as heart issues, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and cancer. Priority for the booster shot also includes those individuals who are frontline workers including teachers. The Catawba County Public Health Director has indicated this includes all Lenoir-Rhyne employees. We encourage those of you who received your second Pfizer vaccine six months ago to schedule your booster vaccine as soon as possible. We anticipate a booster recommendation for the Moderna and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be approved shortly.

    Please know that medical experts expect a more serious flu season, and we urge everyone to get the flu vaccine before the end of October for maximum protection. We plan to have a flu vaccine clinic on campus in October and will announce details as soon as they are finalized.

    Lenoir-Rhyne reports one positive case from surveillance testing last week. There were three positive cases self-reported last week, all from employees on the Hickory campus. No one from the LR community who has been fully vaccinated has been seriously ill or hospitalized with COVID infection. Our local hospitals are reporting 90 percent of COVID hospitalizations are individuals who have not been vaccinated. There were no positive COVID cases from students this week.

    The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

    September 20 – September 26 Data

    • LR Vaccination Rate: 99%
    • Total Tested this week: 208
    • Positive Cases from Testing: 1   
    • Positivity Rate:  .48% (<1%)
    • Self-Reported Positive Cases: 3 (Hickory employees all fully vaccinated)
    • Breakthrough Cases*:  4

    *Those who are fully vaccinated who test positive

    We continue to be thankful for the LR community supporting and embracing the requirement to become fully vaccinated so our campus can remain as safe as possible.

  • September 20, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    September 13-19, 2021 Weekly Testing Report

    The Lenoir-Rhyne University COVID-19 vaccination rate is 98.8%. 

    LR continues to manage the COVID-19 situation closely on each of our campuses, as well as monitoring COVID-19 within our broader community.

    We previously indicated that wearing masks would be required of everyone, including those who are fully vaccinated, when on campus in indoor settings. This requirement was originally set through September 30, and has now been reviewed and updated.

    Masks will be required at all times indoors, regardless of vaccination status, until further notice. It is our hope we can relax this requirement in the near future, particularly for those who are fully vaccinated. However, local positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths continue to be high in our region. We know that vaccinations and wearing of masks are the two most important measures to protect the spread of COVID and keep our campus as safe as possible.

    Lenoir-Rhyne reports no positive cases from surveillance testing last week. There were four positive cases self-reported last week, all off-campus students in Hickory. Over the previous several weeks, half of the positive cases were from individuals not fully vaccinated. The most recent data is provided below and will be updated on our website later today.

  • September 2, 2021: COVID-19 Update

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    Lenoir-Rhyne made the decision in June 2021 to require students, faculty and staff on all three of our campuses to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This requirement was implemented to provide a living and learning environment that prioritizes the health, safety and well-being of the entire LR community, and 99 percent of our community is now vaccinated.  

    In addition, the vaccine requirement provides the best chance for our students, faculty and staff to return to normal operations and to enjoy the full LR experience. As an ELCA Lutheran university, we believe in caring and loving thy neighbor, and these values are paramount in leading our decisions.

    Given the current surge in the delta variant and breakthrough cases (fully vaccinated individuals becoming COVID infected), Lenoir-Rhyne has mandated masks, regardless of vaccination status, in all indoor facilities on all three campuses through at least September 30. The only exceptions are when occupying your individual office, in your room in the residence halls or apartments, or while you are eating or drinking in the dining hall. This will be re-evaluated later this month to determine protocols beginning October 1. Please know that any faculty, staff or student can be rapid tested Monday through Friday from 9:00 -11:00 AM in McCrorie, room 105. There is no charge for this.

    In addition to wearing masks, the following are temporary protocols for individuals visiting campus. These policies are in place currently and will be reviewed regularly to determine if they need to be extended or modified.

    • The university is not permitting events on campus from outside groups not affiliated with Lenoir-Rhyne for the fall semester, which runs through December 31, 2021.
       
    • Individuals from the community are welcome to visit campus and take advantage of campus-sponsored events and services, including the Visiting Writers Series, symphony concerts, chapel, the library and dining in the Cromer Center. Lenoir-Rhyne strongly encourages all visitors to be fully vaccinated and requires everyone to wear a mask in all indoor facilities on campus.
       
    • Individuals attending indoor athletic events are also strongly encouraged to be fully vaccinated and are required to wear masks while indoors.
       
    • Attendees at outdoor athletic events are strongly encouraged to be fully vaccinated. Attendees who are not fully vaccinated are expected to wear masks, whether outdoors or indoors, in an event to keep our student-athletes and LR community as safe as possible.

    I know that we are all weary of the pandemic, but now is not the time to let down our guard. Rather, we must recommit ourselves to doing our part to ensure the safety and health of our entire community. Through these guidelines, we not only protect ourselves, our friends and our families, but we can help ease the burden on the healthcare systems in our region.

August 2021

  • August 17, 2021: New University Mask Requirement

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President

    I hope you have enjoyed a relaxing summer and are ready to begin the 2021-22 academic year at Lenoir-Rhyne. Many students are already back on campus, and our official move-in day is this Friday.

    We all are looking forward to a more normal year after a very challenging 18 months responding to the COVID pandemic. The good news is nearly 100% of all faculty, staff and students at each of our campus locations will be fully vaccinated. This includes our adjunct faculty, high school students, and contract employees such as Aramark, Ellucian and Budd Group.

    Unfortunately, the virus remains an issue and, while the academic year will certainly look much more like it has traditionally, we will continue to take precautions to ensure the health and safety of our campus community. With COVID-19 cases involving the more infectious delta variant trending upward, the CDC has recommended that everyone wear a mask in all indoor public spaces in areas of high or substantial levels of transmission. This currently includes the communities that are home to all three of our campuses.

    As a result, we are implementing updated policies and accommodations for each of the groups of individuals as we begin the school year. These protocols are attached and include:

    • LR will require masks to be worn indoors in public areas (including classrooms and library) for those who are fully vaccinated. The indoor mask requirement for fully vaccinated individuals does not apply to those who are eating or drinking, those alone in their office, apartment or residence hall, or those who are with their fully vaccinated roommates.
       
    • Anyone not fully vaccinated, including those individuals who received an approved vaccine exemption, will be required to wear masks at all times in public settings both indoors and outdoors, and participate in COVID testing a minimum of twice each week.

    This will be effective beginning August 18 and until further notice.

    We believe that our comprehensive policies provide us with the best chance to return to normal and ensure the health, safety and well-being of our campus community, and we will continue to modify them to best respond to current conditions.

    I would personally like to thank you all for your support as we continue to navigate the pandemic and look forward to the new academic year.

  • August 17, 2021: Updated LR COVID-19 Vaccine Accommodations

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President
    RE: Updated LR COVID Vaccine Accommodations

    The following provides updated information regarding COVID protocols for LR faculty, staff and students regarding their vaccination status. These will be reflected in the updates to the Protecting the Den document for the academic year 2021-22. Please know we begin the year with additional uncertainty pertaining to the recent surge in COVID infections in our region. We continue to encourage all individuals to be fully vaccinated not just to protect yourselves, but also to protect others.

    Our campus will be close to 100% fully vaccinated, and no less than 98%. This includes our students, faculty, staff, coaches, adjunct faculty, high school students, Aramark and Ellucian employees, etc. This should provide for a more normal experience and reduce anxiety pertaining to COVID infection on our campus, as long as we are smart about wearing mask, washing hands frequently and remaining socially distanced off campus when around individuals who may not be vaccinated.

    Fully Vaccinated Faculty, Staff and Students

    Fully vaccinated individuals (14 days following final dose of approved vaccine) will have limited restrictions or accommodations on campus since they have reduced risk of contracting and/or spreading COVID infections than those individuals who are unvaccinated.

    • Wearing a mask for fully vaccinated individuals will only be required in indoor public places, including classrooms and the library. This is effective beginning August 18 through the end of September. We hope this is temporary, and we will review at the end of September.
    • You do not need to wear a mask while in your rooms, offices or while participating in physical activity. Residential students may have guests who are fully vaccinated in their rooms, as well as visit other rooms of students who are fully vaccinated.
    • You are not required to wear masks outdoors nor required to participate in weekly COVID testing. The exception are those who participate in athletics and have NCAA required testing.
    • Optional COVID testing for fully vaccinated faculty, staff and students will be available from 9-11 AM Monday-Friday. Testing will be in the athletic training lab (McCrorie 105).
    • Immediately report any physical symptoms similar to COVID infection (fever, congestion, sore throat, headache, etc.) and be tested ASAP. This testing will be conducted at Cornerstone Health on campus by calling (828) 328-7959 for an appointment.
    • Report any exposure to individuals who test positive for COVID-19 ASAP. Follow the COVID reporting guidelines and report no later than 12 hours after you learn of the exposure. You will not be required to quarantine if exposed unless you test positive for COVID.

    Unvaccinated Faculty, Staff and Students

    Unvaccinated faculty, staff and students with approved vaccine exemptions are expected to work on campus/be enrolled in classes, but are required to adhere to the following university accommodations:

    • Wear masks at all times indoors and outdoors when around others. Exemptions are eating and drinking or in office alone or dorm room alone.
    • Social distance at least 6 feet at all times where possible including dining hall, library, etc.
    • Participate in required rapid testing at a minimum twice each week or more if a student athlete. Test location and schedule will be communicated later prior to the first day of class.
    • Immediately report exposure to anyone who test positive with COVID-19 and no later than 12 hours after learning of exposure.
    • Adhere to the 7-14 day quarantine period (per CDC guidelines) and as recommended by the university if contact traced for COVID exposure.
    • Residential students unvaccinated are required to be in single rooms with baths and will not be allowed to visit other rooms or have guests in their rooms
    • Required temperature checks and other health screenings daily
    • Other accommodations specific to the individual pending the activities and/or job duties.

    Partially Vaccinated Faculty, Staff and Students

    LR faculty, staff and students who are not fully vaccinated by August 16 may return to campus and not be delayed in continuing their education or job duties if they follow the temporary accommodations listed below. These individuals must receive their first vaccine shot no later than August 19, and second shot no later than September 9, 2021. These individuals must be fully vaccinated no later than September 23, 2021 and will need to follow accommodations similar to unvaccinated individuals until fully vaccinated.

    Until fully vaccinated (no later than September 23, 2021), these individuals will adhere to the following:

    • Wear masks at all times indoors and outdoors in the presence of others. Exemptions are eating and drinking or in office or dorm room alone.
    • Social distance at least 6 feet at all times where possible including dining hall, library, etc.
    • Participate in required rapid testing at a minimum twice each week or more if a student athlete.
    • Immediately report exposure to individuals who test positive with COVID-19 and no later than 12 hours after learning of exposure.
    • Adhere to the 7-14 day quarantine period (as per CDC guidelines) as recommended by the university if contact traced for COVID exposure
    • Required temperature checks and other health screenings daily
    • Other accommodations specific to the individual pending the activities and/or job duties.

    All faculty, staff and students are strongly encouraged to wear masks when off campus, particularly at indoor venues. This will help protect you and others when at malls, stores, restaurants, etc. Our county has a very low vaccination rate and the Delta variant is very contagious and affecting the younger population. COVID infections are at the same level as February during the peak of the winter.

June 2021

  • June 25, 2021: COVID-19 Update (Fall 2021 Vaccine Requirement)

    TO: LR Campus Community
    FR: Dr. Fred Whitt, President
    DT: June 25, 2021

    Following extensive discussions and deliberations with the COVID-19 taskforce, the leadership team, cabinet, the executive committee of the board of trustees, and local and regional public health experts, we have decided to require the COVID-19 vaccine for all Lenoir-Rhyne students, faculty and staff at all campus locations starting with the return to campus this fall. LR joins a group of more than 500 colleges and universities nationwide that are requiring vaccination to facilitate their return to normal operations for the fall semester.

    The decision was based on ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our campus and broader community and is consistent with one of our LR values -- being a caring community.  In addition, we believe requiring the vaccine is essential to provide the full LR experience for our students, faculty and staff—without masks, social distancing, quarantining and mandatory testing.

    In order to return to campus for the 2021-2022 academic year, students, faculty and staff are required to complete the vaccination process on or before August 16, 2021. A completed vaccine process means that two weeks must have passed from the second vaccine shot (Pfizer or Moderna) or from the one-time Johnson & Johnson vaccine. That means you must receive your second shot (or the one-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine) by August 1, 2021.

    Students who are approved for early arrival to campus for the fall semester prior to August 16 will need to complete their vaccination process before arrival to campus.

    Students are required to submit a copy of their completed vaccine card online, while faculty and staff are to submit their proof of vaccination using Paycom. Approximately 1,000 LR faculty, staff and students have already fully completed the vaccination process; they simply need to upload their vaccine documentation ASAP and not later than July 18, 2021. 

    Individuals may be exempt from the vaccine requirement only if they show documented medical reasons or adherence to sincerely held bona fide religious beliefs as noted of the exemption forms. To request an exemption, you should submit the appropriate exemption form ASAP and no later than July 18, 2021. A committee will review the request and notify you of its decision. Exemption forms and FAQs will be made available on the university website the week of June 28. Students enrolled in online classes only who will not be on campus for the semester may be exempt from the vaccine requirement.

    COVID vaccines are readily available from drugstores and public health departments. In addition, LR will work with Catawba County Public Health to offer an on-campus vaccine clinic during July. Information on finding a COVID vaccination site near you is available online.

    If you have additional questions, please contact the following:

    Getting a vaccine will help ensure the health and safety of not only the LR community, but of the Greater Hickory area. The LR community has shown considerable strength and resilience during the pandemic, and I appreciate your commitment to one another and to the broader community.