WVU professors prepare for new challenges with students return near

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The leader of West Virginia University’s Faculty Senate said professors found themselves in a very challenging time with changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re all used to our rhythms, we’re used to having the things we always do, and those things have been repeatedly disrupted and that’s a challenging place to be,” Faculty Senate Chair Nathalie Singh-Corcoran, a WVU English professor, said on MetroNews “Talkline.”

WVU announced plans last week to delay the fall semester by a week and bring mainly freshmen, graduate and professional students to campus for in-person classes. WVU plans online and hybrid courses for sophomores, juniors and seniors.

Singh-Corcoran said some of the changes have been well-received by the faculty.

“The effort to try to de-densify the campus even further are the right ones,” Singh-Corcoran said. “Given what’s happened over the past few weeks in Mon County with our virus rates.”

The university has reserved Arnold Hall with a 170 person capacity to serve as quarantine site and Singh-Corcoran believes staff, faculty and students will be exposed to the virus at some point.

“Some of those students may indeed be positive for COVID and then have the potential to pass around the virus to others,” she said. “Others who may be vulnerable, particularly faculty who are teaching face-to-face.”

The abrupt switch to online classes in the spring was a proving ground for remote learning and Singh-Corcoran said many were lessons were learned that will be put into practice.

“Our fall online courses will be far different from what happened in the spring,” Singh-Corcoran predicted. “Because, we will have had more time to think through how to translate our in-person courses to online courses.”

She admitted there is some hesitation about going into the classroom.

“There’s some reluctance to teaching in-person,” Singh-Corcoran said. “It’s because risk can only mitigated, it can’t be eliminated.”

Fall semester classes begin Aug. 26. Incoming freshmen will be allowed to move into dorms between Aug. 15 and Aug. 22.

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