West Virginia University will resume in-person undergraduate classes on the Morgantown campus Monday, Sept. 28.
“The data drove our decision and I am so delighted all indications are we can safely return to in-person instruction,” President Gordon Gee said.
The same percentage of courses will be conducted in-person as when WVU initially began the semester. Those students with in-person instruction should resume their schedules on Monday, Sept. 28.
“We are pleased that the measures we’ve taken will allow us to bring students back to the classrooms,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed said. “Now we can move forward with our original plan for delivering high-quality instruction, regardless of modality, while also giving our students an on-campus experience.”
In-person instruction for undergraduate students was canceled and a temporary shift to online learning was announced Sept. 7 in response to an increase in positive cases in students, as well as concern about a potential spike in cases following several reports of parties held over the Labor Day holiday weekend where groups should have been in quarantine.
The University and Monongalia County health experts have closely monitored a number of factors during the two-week pause. Positive COVID-19 tests in the county are trending down, as is the Rt rate.
“The student daily positive case numbers are down, including those tests conducted outside the WVU system,” Dr. Jeffrey Coben, associate vice president of health affairs and dean of the School of Public Health, said. “Additionally, we have seen consistent declines in student quarantine and isolation cases.”
Arnold Apartments, WVU’s designated isolation space for residence hall students, has a 40% occupancy. And the local hospitalization rate is low and includes no students.
Since return-to-campus testing began on July 20, WVU has seen just five faculty and staff positive cases on the Morgantown campus – none found to be from a classroom or on-campus exposure. The University’s data dashboard is updated weekdays at 2 p.m.
Dean of Students Corey Farris was quick to point out that while the pause contributed to a decline in numbers, it also helped reset expectations for life on- and off-campus during the pandemic.
“I understand when students are hanging out with their friends off-campus it might be easy for some to let down their guard but it’s so important to remember the safety guidelines all of the time,” Farris said. “I am so proud of the overwhelming majority of our students who understand they need to wear a mask, practice physical distancing, avoid large indoor gatherings in social settings and follow the rules so we stay here on campus. And we will continue to hold those who are not following the necessary guidelines accountable for their actions.”
According to the latest information from the Office of Student Conduct:
- Approximately 120 students have received, or will receive, COVID-19-related sanctions, up to and including probation
- 30 students have been placed on interim suspension pending hearings
o 24 students have been suspended
o 3 students have been placed on deferred suspensio
o 3 students’ sanctions were reduced to probation after their hearings
- 14 students are awaiting possible hearings
Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop called on students and employees to continue following the safety guidelines and to take advantage of new testing opportunities.
“I want to thank the Governor, the National Guard and the Monongalia County Health Department for working with us to offer free community testing at the Student Rec Center,” Alsop said. “This testing is available every Wednesday for the foreseeable future to all WVU students, employees and residents of Monongalia County and it is not necessary to have COVID-19 symptoms to get tested.”
The University will continue to conduct testing of students who are symptomatic, as well as those who may be at a higher risk for exposure. In addition, faculty and staff who are working on campus and are concerned they may have been exposed can also receive a test upon request. More details will be available later this week on the process for doing so.
A second session for faculty only is planned Friday, Sept. 25 at 10 a.m.
“Every decision we have made has been focused on the health and safety of our faculty, staff and students,” Gee said. “We were able to flatten our numbers and move forward with the semester. However, we are still in the midst of a serious pandemic and must adhere to the safety guidelines in place. Going forward, I want to assure our campus and the surrounding community that health and safety factors will continue to guide us in the future.