MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University undergraduate students started their first day of the fall semester on Wednesday.
The usual hustle and bustle of the downtown campus has been reduced to a more slow and steady environment because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 60 percent of all classes this fall will be online, meaning many students have no reason to be on campus during the day. WVU has put in place extensive COVID-19 measures to ensure the safety of all those returning to campus this fall and one freshman said his first day on campus was smooth despite initial concerns.
“There are a few people that are really doubtful,” Freshman Caleb Evans said. “I was like that at first, when I got up here, I started to see how they are actually pretty strict about the masks and everything so far. The rules — you can’t go to other people’s dorm rooms and stuff and they’re actually pretty strict about that and I didn’t actually think that they would follow through with that as much as they have so far. I think there are a few people that are kind of pessimistic about it, but I’m just trying to keep my hopes high.”
Evans’ feelings about the safety of the campus were shared by Casey Bilski, a WVU junior. Bilski said all his classes are online this semester but he still likes to walk around campus.
“I feel completely safe being back, I mean COVID-19 — I know it exists, but if everybody is following the procedures I think we’re going to be fine as a university,” Bilski said. “I know the kids want to stay here for as long as they can. This is a safe place for so many kids on this campus and as long as we follow the protocols I think we’ll be good.”
Both students said they had seen most of their fellow students complying with the mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines. Bilski said some were walking around outside without a mask, but all he had seen had them on indoors.
Only time will tell if the guidelines and enforcement are enough to keep students safe and on-campus, something many universities that opened this month have struggled to do. Evans said he believes WVU will be able to adapt and not have to shut down like it did in March.
“I think there are a few things that could be done better, but I honestly think over time that the university will start to see ‘this is working, this is not working’,” Evans said. “They will be able to go from there and figure out what’s going to work best. As of right now, I think they’re doing a pretty good job about it.”
As for Bilski, he said he absolutely wants the campus to remain open because he wants to return to having in-person classes as soon as possible.
“I’m really hoping by the time October hits we will be able to getting back in person,” Bilski said. “If not, latest hopefully next semester. That’s a big hope for me.”