Blue Ridge Public Radio, by Lilly Knopp

Catamount Athletics says that seven people who have been back on campus for sports training have tested positive for COVID-19. In total 145 people were tested – all student-athletes in sports with permitted summer access activities, coaches and staff. This information was shared on July 22 as part of a campus update.  It was not sent to the media.

Some of the sports that were allowed to return were football, as well as, both men’s and women’s basketball. These student-athletes were able to return to campus as early as July 6, according to the athletic department.

“Students –  just like everyone else in our community, around the state and in Jackson County – are experiencing the COVID-19 illness and the coronavirus is here in our communities and is spreading,” says Miller.

Western Carolina University students will be back on campus this weekend.  Students will be required to wear face coverings in all public spaces. There are also new residence hall policies and  increased cleaning procedures. Western will be giving out face masks and PPE to students through its Catamounts Care program.

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Sam Miller expects about 400 students will move into the residence halls on Saturday. Students have signed up for specific times to remain socially distant.

In total, about 3,500 students will be living in the dorms when classes start on August 17. Miller says this is down from about 4,000 last year for a variety of reasons.

Western Carolina says it is on track to have over 12,000 students enrolled for the fall semester.