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Afternoon News Update, 2/24/21

By Mickey Hutchings

In campus news, students will see their tuition rise by 30 dollars under a new UNC system-wide increase to campus police funding. The campus security fee will double its past price to 60 dollars, and will support initiatives such as safety and security training, substance abuse counseling and Title 9 and Clery Act compliance coordination. App State’s Association of Student Governments campus liaison JaQuez Johnson said he is against the board of governors push for the fee increase. He said that UNC student leaders feel that the fee’s rise should be paid for by the general assembly and not by students’ tuition. Johnson also said that he hasn’t seen students pushing for their tuition money being put toward campus security, but he has seen students in support of using their dollars to increase wellness, diversity and inclusion initiatives on their campuses.

The Watauga County Board of Education voted Monday to bring K through 5 students back to in-person classes. Beginning March 8th, students will be going to school 4 days a week under Plan A. Plan A will mandate social distancing and face coverings, but will not limit the amount of students in a classroom. Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott said that it’s time to bring students back to the classroom because they learn the best and are healthiest in a face-to-face setting. The board has been concerned that teachers have not received the COVID-19 vaccine yet, but Watauga County educators will receive their first dose of the Moderna vaccine today, and their second on March 26th.

In national news, the New York Times reports that the Johnson and Johnson one-shot COVID-19 vaccine provides strong protection against the virus. The vaccine showed 86% efficacy from severe forms of the virus in the U.S., and 82% against severe forms in South Africa, where a highly contagious variant was found in the fall. Analyses show that Americans will greatly benefit from the new vaccine, as demand for the vaccine far surpasses the supply. The FDA is expected to approve Johnson and Johnson’s shot as early as Saturday.

Today the High Country is welcoming pleasant weather, with mostly sunny skies warmer temperatures. Today’s high is 62 degrees and the low is 39 degrees.

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