Triangle college students back on campus and determined to do what it takes to stay amid pandemic

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Thursday, August 19, 2021
NC college students back on campuses and determined to stay
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Classes are underway at campuses across the Triangle and students are expressing an eagerness to do whatever it takes to stay put this semester.

Classes are underway on university campuses across the Triangle and students are expressing an eagerness to do whatever it takes to stay put this time around.

While COVID-19 vaccination is required at Duke, students, faculty, and staff at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University will need to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing.

Tate Keener, an NCSU incoming freshman from Kernersville, said he is happy to comply with regular testing.

"I get tested every week, but so far I've tested negative every time," said Keener. "As long as I keep up with the mask stuff it should be fine."

Kijon Gentry started out at NCSU before the onset of the pandemic, spent his junior year learning virtually from home in Shelby, and is now starting his senior year on a campus where masks are required indoors.

"It's three different types of learning and three different social experiences as well so it's just constant adaptation, honestly," said Gentry.

Since Aug. 7, NCSU has reported 120 active COVID cases with more than 27,000 students, faculty, and staff fully vaccinated.

Mick Kulikowski, spokesperson for NCSU, sent the following statement to ABC11 reporting a significant uptick in vaccinations since the university announced its vaccine policy:

We highly recommend vaccinations for the campus community, as vaccination is our best defense against the virus. We are requiring that students, faculty and staff either provide proof of vaccination or be tested weekly. Face coverings are required in all indoor spaces with just a few exceptions, and we recommend that people wear them outside as well, especially those who are unvaccinated.

We have several COVID-19 testing locations across campus, as well as the PackVax clinic to vaccinate members of the campus community.

We have seen thousands of vaccination status uploads since announcing our requirement to either provide vaccine proof or be tested weekly. We expect that number to continue rising as more people complete their vaccination series and report their vaccinations to us.

These measures and others are in place to help ensure safety, and we continue to widely communicate community expectations. We're optimistic that the campus community will recognize the threat posed by the delta variant and get vaccinated, adhere to the university's community standards and take all appropriate measures to keep themselves and others safe.

"There's always a worry that we're gonna have to go back online and it's always in the back of everyone's head," said Avantika Konar, an NC State freshman. "But I think everyone's doing a really good job of wearing masks and staying safe in class."

UNC-Chapel Hill will require faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated or submit to weekly testing beginning September 15.

Right now, the state's flagship university is reporting 87-percent of its students and 80-percent of its staff have attested they are fully vaccinated.

Among Duke's 113 active cases are two clusters identified in its medical school and women's field hockey team.

The university reported that all students involved in the clusters were fully vaccinated and most have not experienced any symptoms.