App State Chancellor: Student COVID-19 death should inspire “a common call to action” on safety

Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts addressed the COVID-19 related death of a student in a statement to the university community late Tuesday.

As Policy Watch reported this week, 19-year-old sophomore Chad Dorrill died of complications due to the virus Monday night.

Everts’ message broke the news to those in the community who were not yet aware and asked for continued caution as the pandemic continues and cases climb at App State.

It also pointed out that Dorrill lived off-campus in Boone and took classes online.

From Everts’ message:

The hearts of the entire Appalachian Community are with Chad’s family and loved ones during this profoundly difficult and painful time. Tributes shared by friends and loved ones show the positive impact Chad had on the communities he loved and called home, which included App State and Boone.

Chad’s family has shared he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month and suffered from later complications. Chad lived off-campus in Boone and all of his classes were online. When he began feeling unwell earlier this month, his mother encouraged him to come home, quarantine, and be tested for COVID-19.

After testing positive for COVID-19 in his home county, he followed isolation procedures and was cleared by his doctor to return to Boone. It was after his return to Boone that he had additional complications, was picked up by his family and hospitalized. His family’s wishes are for the university to share a common call to action so our entire campus community recognizes the importance of following COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines.

Despite generally being at lower risk for severe illness, college-age adults can become seriously ill from COVID-19. As we approach the halfway mark to the last day of classes for the Fall semester, we are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases in students. We have stringent cleaning and safety protocols in place on campus, and our students, faculty and staff are following the 3Ws by wearing face coverings, maintaining 6 feet of distance from one another and washing and sanitizing their hands and work stations. All of us must remain vigilant with our safety behaviors wherever we are in our community. We can flatten the curve, but to do so, we must persevere. From the smallest acts to the most important personal relationships, we must actively work each day to reduce the spread of this highly communicable disease.

Remember that gatherings are limited to 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, and that in those settings, it is still critically important to maintain distance and wear face coverings. The university and the Town of Boone are enforcing these restrictions, and each of us must take seriously our personal responsibility as well. With grace and with kindness, let’s help one another to follow these important safety precautions. Information about prevention and testing options is available on the university’s coronavirus website, where we also post the weekly campus email updates.

Please know there are many resources to help you cope with grief and stress as well as to provide you with support in a confidential setting. If you or someone you know needs assistance, please reach out.

In condolences to his family, many have shared their memories of Chad and said, “I wear my mask for Chad.” Please let us all honor Chad and his contributions by taking care of ourselves and our community.

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