MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University students hoping to return to campus next month for a pandemic-impacted fall semester will face a lot of changes. Many of them detailed in the university’s latest “Campus Conversation” that was held online Thursday.
WVU Dean of Students Dr. Corey Farris said the campus is united with the local community to ensure safety and students will be expected follow that lead including in the area of mask wearing.
“There are a set of guidelines and rules that our students, on campus and off campus must follow,” Farris said. ” Morgantown City Council and other local authorities have also passed some ordinances that will enforced locally and we’ll fully support that through our Office of Student Conduct.”
Before returning all faculty, staff and students are required to complete a COVID-19 education module, an online test and schedule a virus test. WVU Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop said if students, faculty or staff do not complete the requirements they could face disciplinary action or a temporary work from home order until the required tasks are completed.
“It’s really important that you complete this test and module,” Alsop said Thursday addressing students in a Zoom meeting. “In fact, failure to complete the module will result in a $250 fee because we really want you to take this seriously, and a referral to the Office of Student Conduct.”
WVU has set up three locations in Morgantown for students to be tested. It begins Monday. If a student tests positive during the semester the local health department, student support services and their professors will be notified. The student will receive course work materials while in quarantine or isolation. Also, the professor would contact campus authorities if the student did return to class before the quarantine of isolation order is issued.
According to Alsop, Arnold Hall is the quarantine facility and can hold about 170 students.
WVU also has a plan for contact tracing.
“The Provost’s Office is working on assigned seating for the fall so it help with contact tracing and so we can know and keep track of students who should or should not be in the classroom at any point in time,” Alsop said.
Students that leave the state during the semester won’t be required to take a test in every case, but they will be required to quarantine for a five-day period.
Alsop defined isolation as completely cut off from others because of a positive COVID-19 test, but quarantine is not as restrictive.
“If you’re a close contact you could be ordered into quarantine which means you need to stay away from others, it’s not as strict as isolation,” Alsop said. “But, we do have the ability and the health department can order a quarantine based on a contact without a positive test.”
Farris explained the pandemic is a very serious public health matter and the guidelines must be followed to ensure the safety of the campus, students and Morgantown residents.
“If a student decides not to cooperate with us we will engage our Office of Student Conduct,” Dr. Farris said. “The range of sanctions can be that you comply, which stops the conduct process, all the way to suspension or expulsion.”
Farris and Alsop also discussed the status of several annual large campus events.
Mountaineer Week will be reduced to music demonstrations, beard contest and Mr. & Ms. Mountaineer contest. Sorority and fraternity Rush Week will be available to those eligible, Diversity Week, the Strongest Mountaineer and the WVU-Go Employment Fair will go on as planned.
Due to capacity limitations registration is required for all events.
WVU’s fall semester is scheduled to begin Aug. 19. The university has previously announced on-campus classes will end before Thanksgiving. Students will stay off campus after Thanksgiving, finishing the final few weeks of the semester online.