WVU to ease some campus protocols, mask requirements for classrooms, labs will continue

Monongalia

Students walk in and out of the Mountainlair on a rainy first day of classes Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. (WVU Photo/Jennifer Shephard)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As infection and hospitalization rates due to the delta variant decrease, West Virginia University will lift mask requirements for individuals in indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status, beginning Thursday, Oct. 21.

However, the University will continue to require masks in all classrooms, labs, or any WVU System facility or building being used as a classroom for the remainder of the semester.

April Kaull

Masks are still required in our classrooms and our labs, and that’s regardless of vaccination status. If you’re vaccinated or not, if you’re in a classroom or a lab, you still need to wear a mask. People who are vaccinated don’t need to wear a mask in other indoor areas of our campus. We do expect and really, strongly encourage that people who are not vaccinated should still continue to wear a mask when they’re indoors. And just, generally speaking, we still support anyone who feels like they want to wear a mask whether they’re vaccinated or not for that added layer of protection; especially if they’re in areas indoors or out, where maybe it’s crowded and there’s not an opportunity for physical distancing. 

April Kaull – WVU Executive Director of Communications

Following CDC guidelines, those who are not vaccinated will be expected to wear a mask in all indoor settings as well as outdoors where large groups are gathered, and masks will continue to be required on the PRT and WVU buses through Jan. 18, 2022, under federal guidelines from the Transportation Security Administration.

Additionally, the University will drop the 5-day quarantine requirement following out-of-state travel for all faculty, staff and students.

“Infection rates and hospitalization rates are beginning to decline across the state and within our community which are key data in our decision to ease some of our current campus protocols,” said Dr. Jeffrey Coben, dean of the School of Public Health and associate vice president for Health Affairs. “I urge our students and employees to remain vigilant, and we continue to encourage those on campus to wear a mask when indoors, regardless of vaccination status, especially in areas where physical distancing is not possible.”

Two people standing inside a WVU building wearing their masks (WVU Photo)

Kaull said WVU also strongly continues to urge everyone to be vaccinated and for students and employees to verify their vaccine status online.

The Morgantown campus has reached a high level of vaccination verification rate, she said — 92 percent for faculty/staff and 80 percent for students. Positive cases, quarantine and isolation instances remain modest.

As a result, WVU will host Fall FoodFest sponsored by Coca-Cola and Refresh on Thursday, Oct. 28, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. near the Student Rec Center fields. Students can register online starting Wednesday, Oct. 20, and claim their free meal token.

Free meals are for current students only.

Kaull said she thinks the high vaccination rates speak to the education and awareness campaign that WVU undertook early on when vaccines became available. 

“We really talked with our campus community about the benefits of a vaccine,” she said. “We’ve put them in touch with people in our medical community if students or faculty or staff members had questions or concerns and we’re going to continue to do that. We strongly encourage anyone to choose to be vaccinated.”

A student wearing a WVU gaiter (WVU Photo)

The University has been closely monitoring the public health situation on the Morgantown campus and the surrounding community throughout the pandemic and it will continue to do so.

For now, Kaull said, WVU is happy with vaccination rates but it is very aware the fight against COVID-19 is not over.

“We know we still need to remain vigilant,” she said. “You know, I want to be clear, we are encouraging people not to let down their guard. We are still in the midst of a pandemic, and it’s very important for everyone to continue to make those choices to protect themselves and others with the tools in our toolbox that we know that we have. Those are masks, physical distancing, that personal hygiene and of course, vaccines.”

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