West Virginia State students adjusting to life on campus during pandemic

INSTITUTE, W.Va. — Students, faculty and staff are back on campus at West Virginia State University to begin the fall semester in what will be anything but a normal semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

West Virginia State (WVSU) was the first institution in the state to begin class, which started on Monday, to allow for the semester to end before the Thanksgiving travel season.

Everyone in Institute is now adjusting to life on campus during a pandemic with specific policies and procedures in place by WVSU officials and health administrators.

Beth Billups, a senior from Kanawha County credited the university’s rules in place which include a health screening station and face-covering requirement at every building.

“Yes, I feel safe here on campus,” she told MetroNews on Wednesday.

WVSU’s “Focus on WVSU: Reopening This ‘Place We Love So Dear'” plan includes health measures developed based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidance.

Health and Well-Being Measures include:

– Sanitize and prepare all buildings for reopening and increase the frequency of such cleanings to meet established protocols;
– Enforce social distancing protocols of six-feet spacing where possible;
– Require face coverings for all who enter campus properties;
– Install Plexiglass shields at all appropriate administrative offices and teaching spaces;
– Control access points of entrance and exit of all buildings for the purpose of screening those who enter;
– Perform temperature checks at each building;
– Develop signage in order to control flow of traffic in hallways and stairwells;
– Develop a central dispensary for personal protective equipment (PPE) and provide the same to all campus users, giving special consideration for those who deal with the public and those in at-risk populations;
– Increase the frequency and availability of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and other cleaning products;
– Reduce touch points to the maximum extent possible; and
– Create an open line of communication for all students, employees, and the general public through the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

Jack Bailey, a WVSU spokesperson explained the health screening stations, “Any of the buildings that have classrooms or business offices in them, you will come up to a health screening station where you will have a temperature checked and have a series of health questions to answer.

“Once you answer the questions and shown you do not have a high temperature, you receive a sticker and that sticker is good for that day and allows you to go through campus and not have to go through the screening process again.”

VIEW: West Virginia State procedure video

Bryson French, a WVSU junior from Winfield said all the procedures are a lot to adjust to.

“There’s a lot of adjustments, especially for the people that are staying here. That’s very different as far as what they can and cannot do when they return to campus and the dorms,” he told MetroNews.

French is a member of WVSU’s baseball team, which had the majority of its spring season canceled when the pandemic arrived in March. Now, French and his team are playing the waiting game as NCAA Division II has already canceled the fall sports championships.

“Basically our whole season was canceled, we got to play a couple of games at the very beginning,” he said of the spring. “Going into this fall, we still have not been able to practice or that much really. We are still not sure how that is going to turn out.”

Being a music major, Billups said her extracurricular activities have also been put on hold such as ensembles, proper rehearsals and marching band were canceled.

“It’s definitely hard being a music major in this season of life but it is what it is,” she said. “You know what? It’s just a blessing in the long run because if this ever happens again or if I have to go virtual as a teacher, I am going to have experience as a student and know how my students feel.”

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