LR announces COVID-19 protocols for fall 2022 semester

We will continue to rely on the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our state and local health departments as we set university policy. If trends change, we may have to amend our current policies, which could include mask and vaccine requirements.

LR Bear Cub sculpture

As we have progressed through the summer, we are encouraged by the relatively low number of cases of COVID-19 on our three campuses and the availability of effective treatments. Additionally, cases and hospitalizations in the three counties in which our campuses are located also have been consistently low.

Given these factors and after consulting with the Catawba County Public Health Department, the N.C. State Department for Health and Human Services, updated CDC guidelines, local and regional public health officials, the vice presidents, deans and the COVID-19 task force, we want to let you know about changes we are making in our COVID-19 safety procedures for fall.

Vaccine Guidance for Students

Beginning with fall 2022 semester, COVID-19 vaccines, including all booster shots, are strongly recommended for students, but are no longer required.

Being up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, including having all recommended booster shots, determines quarantine guidelines and can reduce risk of severe disease and hospitalization. 

Please note that students in some programs, including community health, exercise science, Master of Public Health, nursing (RIBN, RN-BSN, BSN, MSN, DNP), dietetic internship, and occupational therapy may be required by their clinical sites to be vaccinated and boosted. If the student is unable to attend experiential learning at a pre-arranged site, there may be a delay in completing the experience, which will delay progress to graduation. 

Faculty & Staff Vaccine Requirement

The vaccine requirement for faculty and staff remains in place at this time.  

Vaccines and booster shots will continue to be available local county health departments and at numerous locations through the area. You can find more information at these links:

Mask Requirements

Masks remain optional with the following exceptions:

  • Individual instructors may require masks in their classrooms as part of their standard classroom management.
  • Those visiting Cornerstone Health Services may be required to wear masks when entering the facility.

While masks are not required except as noted above, anyone who feels more comfortable wearing a mask on campus is encouraged to do so.

Prevention Strategies

  • All faculty, staff and students will be required to present a negative PCR or antigen COVID-19 test within two days before returning to campus.
  • In addition, all residential students will be required to test on campus prior to moving into campus housing. Additional information about this process will be shared in the coming weeks.
  • Unvaccinated students will be required to schedule testing on campus as indicated.
  • We will continue to offer free testing to our faculty, students and staff. Testing is generally available from 9-11 a.m. on the Hickory campus and by appointment at the Asheville and Columbia campus locations.
  • For athletics testing, we will continue to follow the recommendations and requirements of the NCAA and the South Atlantic Conference.

Tracing and Alerts

Anyone who is exposed or tests positive for COVID-19 should continue to report their case to the appropriate person.

This information will allow us to continue to monitor trends on campus and perform contract tracing, if necessary.

Residential students who test positive will be required to move temporarily to isolation rooms or may opt to return home to isolate. We also will provide quarantine rooms on a limited basis for those residential students who were exposed to the virus but who are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. The CDC defines “up to date” as having all vaccines and boosters for which a person is eligible. For example, someone who is unvaccinated or fully vaccinated but not boosted would have to quarantine for five days and get tested if exposed to the virus.

Thank you for your support and adherence to our policies. We are looking forward to a successful fall semester.


  • Frequently Asked Questions
    Why are you switching from required to strongly recommended for students?

    We have consulted with local, regional and state public health officials, including the Catawba County Health Department and the NC State Department for Health and Human Services, and reviewed the updated Centers for Disease Control guidelines. They all support a switch from required to strongly recommending the vaccine this fall.

    Important items to note are:

    • Catawba County, where most of our residential students are, is in the lowest risk category from the CDC for infection as of this week.
    • Given our campus community is 95 percent fully vaccinated and boosted and the number of people at LR and locally who have had COVID, there is an increased immunity within our community.
    • Hospitalizations and serious illness from COVID, particularly in younger people, have decreased significantly.
    • There are now effective treatment measures which are readily available in pill form to treat COVID.
    • The CDC has eliminated the requirement for testing to travel to the US from other countries and also has lifted the mask requirement on public transportation.
    • There is no CDC recommendation for anyone getting a fourth booster, unless 50 years of age or older, or unless weakened immune system or other underlying health issues.

    As a result of all of these factors, we feel comfortable strongly recommending but not requiring the COVID vaccine for the fall 2022 semester.

    Will you be lifting the requirement for faculty and staff?

    With the fall semester about eight weeks away, our focus has been on setting an appropriate policy for the hundreds of new students who are joining Lenoir-Rhyne. We will discuss the requirement for faculty and staff over the summer and share if there is a change to policy.

    What if the COVID landscape changes significantly? Will you require the vaccine, testing or masks?

    We will continue to monitor COVID on campus and nationally to determine if changes are required. As we have since the beginning of the pandemic, we will make data-based decisions using feedback from local, state and regional public health departments and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control.

    What happens if I test positive for COVID?

    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 5 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.

    Residential students who test positive will be required to move temporarily to isolation rooms or may opt to return home to isolate. We also will provide a limited number of quarantine rooms for those residential students who were exposed to the virus but who are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines.

    What happens if I have been exposed to COVID?

    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 5. If you develop symptoms, get a COVID-19 test and remain at home until you know the results.
    • If unvaccinated or not fully “up to date,” you are required to quarantine at home for 5 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
    • However, in a case where one is living every day (not just a brief encounter) in the same residence with family members/roommates and one or more are/become infected with COVID-19, we need to take additional precautions. In these few cases, exposed persons are to remain at home.  Each case is to be evaluated individually. At a minimum, these individuals would quarantine for approximately 7 days, be tested, and their situation be re-evaluated for a safe return to campus. We will work with our medical advisors on the best course of action. The potential of multiple cases in a home, traveling back and forth each day to work or classes with daily exposure is a high risk.

    Note: The CDC defines “up to date” as having all vaccines and boosters for which a person is eligible. 

    Do I need to tell anyone if I test positive or have been exposed to COVID?

    Yes. To help us monitor COVID on campus, please report a positive test or exposure to the following:


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