MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Busy West Virginia University students can, again, be seen walking to and from classes as the spring 2021 semester has officially started.
Classes started on Tuesday, Jan. 19 and students finally returned after a long hiatus that saw them leave before Thanksgiving break due to spiking COVID cases. Now that students are back, Dean of Students Corey Farris said he is “excited” because they were brought back the right way.
We got them tested. The number of students that tested positive is relatively low, which is a great sign, which t means they were all over the country for the holidays, and now they are safely back. And then that helps us get them back in the classroom and keep them in the classroom. And then that allows us to restart some of our activities to support our students. But it’s just great to have them back in town, not just from the university perspective, but I’m certain the community is ready to welcome them back because they’re such a great part of the community.Corey Farris – WVU Dean of Students
Until students are settled in, campus programs and activities will remain virtual, Farris said. But once everyone is settled down and numbers in the community and state are not spiking, then the plan is to resume in-person activities like WVU Up All Night and activities on the Recreational Center fields.
In the meantime, WVU is offering students cooking, yoga, fitness, crafting, and even makeup classes virtually, to name a few.
The cautious but optimistic approach of the spring 2021 semester is motivated by everything the university learned in the fall of 2020, the dean said. Unlike in August of 2020, there is a lot WVU now knows about what kinds of plans will work and won’t regarding student and employee safety.
“There’s some bumps in the road and we certainly did a lot of learning during the fall semester,” Farris said. “Same thing with the students — I’ll say the students had to learn the rules of the game and how to operate in Morgantown and how to maneuver and manage and stay healthy. Not only did the students learn, but we learned. We took all that knowledge and we’re putting it into play from the get-go for the spring semester. It will be a whole lot smoother, not just in the classroom but outside the classroom.”
Having a wealth of knowledge to rely on brings about the previously referenced cautious optimism for Farris and other WVU administrators. Another factor that gives hope is the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines that is going on at the city and county levels, as well as statewide.
Seeing vaccines administered, Farris said, makes him confident about the semester, especially considering more vaccines are coming to start inoculating students.
“We’re going to see how it’s going to help us get back to normalcy,” Farris said. “I’ll say, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Now is it the summer of ’21, is it the summer of ’22, who knows when it will be? But in the fall we didn’t know when the vaccines were going to be released, we didn’t know the impact and it’s now upon us and the vaccines are being distributed, so that’s great optimism.”