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WVU officials discuss virus testing, responsibility in latest campus conversation

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU officials addressed testing and PPE details during a Return to Campus Conversation on Thursday. The event provided details about how testing will be administered and rules for the use of PPE and possible penalties for noncompliance.

Rob Alsop

WVU Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop repeated a previous message that masks and face coverings will be required while on campus. Alsop said social distancing will be required in all areas of campus along with masks, good hygiene and urged students and faculty to self-monitor for symptoms.

Failure to take the test could result in a $250 fee to the students, referral to student conduct or even expulsion for repeated offenses. Employees who do not schedule and complete a COVID test before August 15 will be subject to discipline that could include leave with no pay or requiring the employee to take leave.

Masks are also required for staff, faculty and students. Noncompliance with the mask order for students could result in disciplinary action or even a reduction in grade.

Alsop said making this semester a success relies greatly on personal responsibility.

“The personal accountability and Mountaineer Spirit of taking taking care not only of yourself, but taking steps personally to keep other folks from getting illness who may have underlying conditions or maybe susceptible to get really ill will determine how successful we are this fall,” he said.

Dr. Jeffery Coben, WVU associate vice president for health affairs, dean of the School of Public Health asked students and faculty to continually self-monitor how they feel and stay home if they have any symptoms.

Coben said the COVID conditions in Monongalia County are being monitored constantly and more guidance could result from that.

“We are strongly discouraging people from traveling out of state during this time, “Coben said. “And strongly discouraging people from hosting visitors from outside of West Virginia.”

Students who test positive will be contacted by the university and the Monongalia County Health Department for further direction and isolation instructions.

“We have been putting Arnold Apartments back into service,” Alsop said. “Students who do test positive for COVID in our residence halls will be moved to Arnold Apartments and the folks from Student Life will help with that move.”

Alsop said the student will not be charged for the move into Arnold.

Students who live off-campus would follow direction from county health officials.

Clay Marsh

Alsop said WVU has joined with testing companies to get the most reliable, timely and accurate options.

“We have been working with Quest Diagnostics and making sure that we feel really comfortable about the accuracy of the testing, about the protocols for the testing and about your privacy and we make sure our partners understand the importance about the turnaround time for these tests,” he said.

WVU Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences Dr. Clay Marsh said the pandemic is a constantly changing situation and they are making the best decisions they can with the available information.

“We will do what we believe is in the best interest of the people that live here and work here and we want to open the university, but we are committed that will do that only if we can do that safely,” he said.

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