UPDATE (NOV 18, 2020 6:17 p.m.):
WVU’s Dean of Students, Corey Farris, said the decision to end things early was “incredibly difficult” because the goal was to keep students until Tuesday, Nov. 24. However, he said he was happy with how the university had managed the pandemic, especially after a big spike in September.
I’m also really proud of our students because they’ve worked incredibly hard. After we took that pause, it changed behavior. I mean students really masked up, they were doing physical distancing, so our numbers continued — after we had that initial spike in September. Our numbers have stayed incredibly low and we’ve just a handful of students at Arnold Hall, in that isolation area. It was a difficult decision.”Corey Farris – WVU Dean of Students
Farris said when the university took a look at what was happening at the county, state and national levels it determined this was the best course of action. It’s only a difference of a few days, but that time, if used prudently, can help mitigate the risk of students spreading their infections when they go home.
“We had to make sure they transition home safely, so giving up a few extra days might help them isolate and quarantine before they see their grandparents, or their parents, or their aunts and uncles and those that are immunocompromised,” Farris said.
He said, the reaction from students has been mixed because some had only online classes in the fall, so nothing will change for them. Some students, Farris said, are likely disappointed because they had in-person classes they enjoyed.
Again, he said, those students who are disappointed should know the university only has the students’ best interests in mind and wanted to give students time to quarantine, take free COVID tests being offered, or take all other precautions necessary before going home.
When students return in the spring semester in January, the dean said, they and everybody else at the university will go through a rigorous series of tests for all who are returning, similar to in the fall. Until then, he said, he wants students to be safe and have a happy holiday season.
“I am appreciative that our students have worked so hard to get us to this point,” Farris said. “As we always do — I would wish them happy Thanksgiving and safe travels. I am looking forward for them to return in January, so we can start classes again.”
ORIGINAL (NOV 17, 2020 5:17 p.m.):
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University announced on Tuesday that due to the increased number of COVID-19 cases in the state and on the University’s campuses, all undergraduate classes will move to online for the remainder of the Fall Semester.
The release from the University stated that this includes WVU’s Keyser and Beckley campuses in addition to the main Morgantown campus. All undergraduate instruction will move online November 23-24, according to the release.
University officials said some Health Sciences programs will be excluded, and faculty who teach graduate and professional-level courses may determine whether to teach in-person on Monday and Tuesday. Students in those programs should check with their instructors, officials said.
The release stated that in addition, the deadline to withdraw from courses has been extended to December 4. University officials said that students considering this option should be aware that withdrawing from courses may negatively affect financial aid, scholarships and progression in their course of study. Students should contact their academic adviser if they have questions about the impact of withdrawing from a course, according to the release.
Officials said that next week, students will have access to learning labs to finish final projects if they are approved and supervised by the academic unit. Libraries will remain open but may have limited hours, according to the University.
Additionally, research labs will remain open and continue to follow research protocols.
The release stated that Dining and Residence Halls will remain open and operate on a normal schedule until the holiday break, as originally planed. WVUp All Night will move to an all-online or virtual format this weekend and no in-person events are planned, according to the release.
“Now more than ever, we ask our students, faculty and staff to stay home and away from those outside of your immediate bubble as much as possible,” Dr. Carmen Burrell, medical director of WVU Medicine Student Health and Urgent Care, said. “If you have to be out or travel, follow the safety guidance that has been put in place to protect you and others, especially our more vulnerable residents.”
- Wear a mask (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently updated guidance to show that masks help protect the wearer, as well as for the people around those wearing them.)
- Practice physical distancing
- Avoid large gatherings and confined spaces with others
- Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer if soap is not available
- Stay home if feeling ill (Completing the daily wellness survey may help to monitor for symptoms.)
- Consider getting tested before travel
WVU has also shared its own guidance for holiday gatherings and travel.
University officials said that students, faculty and staff are encouraged to pre-register for free voluntary COVID-19 testing on November 23 and 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the WVU Student Rec Center. Additional testing opportunities will also be available Nov. 23-24 for students, as well as faculty and staff, according to the release.
In conjunction with WVU and the West Virginia National Guard, the Monongalia County Health Department will hold free COVID-19 testing Friday, Nov. 20, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the WVU Student Rec Center.
Officials said that begining Monday, November 30, and through the first of the year, WVU will update the dashboard on a weekly basis each Monday. The weekly updates will continue to reflect the daily results.