MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Classes began for students at West Virginia University on Wednesday. While students returned to the classroom at full capacity for the first time in 17 months, they did so while wearing masks, as per a mandate from the university.
The announcement came on Tuesday that students are required to wear masks in academic settings regardless of vaccination status. The limits of the mandate included classrooms and labs. While other indoor university settings do not require masks, the university strongly encouraged students to wear masks there, as well.
Before their arrival to campus over the weekend, unvaccinated students were required to submit a negative test result, but many students did not comply. Because of the lack of compliance and the rising number of COVID cases in the state, the university felt the best option to keep everyone on campus and healthy was to reinstate the mask mandate.
“Our highest priority at West Virginia University is preserving the on-campus, in-person, academic experience,” said Erin Neumeyer, assistant Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. “With some of the data that we saw as part of our return to campus testing, it was the right call for West Virginia University at this point in time.”
The mandate will be in place until Sept. 18. However, the university will closely monitor the situation in the meantime to determine if it needs to be extended.
In addition to the mask mandate, West Virginia University expanded its testing and vaccination capabilities so students had as many opportunities to get the care they needed as possible.