MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Students attending WVU campuses have completed the fall semester amid a health pandemic and president Gordon Gee is calling it a success.
“We pivoted on a dime and I think we had a very successful semester,” Gee said on Thursday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline. “I actually taught an in-person course and I know what a delight for me it was to spend time with our students, so I would say “yes.”
All students and staff were tested prior to attending classes and officially initiated mandatory protocols. At least three dozen students suffered disciplinary sanctions for things like hosting large gatherings and failing to follow basic guidelines like wearing a mask.
Undergraduate classes were moved online as a precaution from September 8 through 25 due to reports of Labor Day parties. Due to a COVID-19 upward trend, undergraduate classes were again moved online on November 23 for the remainder of the fall semester.
Gee believes many valuable lessons have been learned in short period of time that will benefit the institution in the future.
“No one wants to be at home in their mother’s basement,” Gee said. “So, I think we really did make real advances on how we deal with this disease.”
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) December 17, 2020
The introduction of the vaccine has signaled a possible transition into a more normal routine, but many uncertainties remain.
“We’re in that strange position where we have the vaccine available on one hand, and we have the pandemic raging on the other hand,” Gee said. “We’re just trying to figure out how we dance with it.”
Gee has received the vaccine and says he experienced soreness at the injection site, but no other side effects.
“We prioritize 65 and above and of course I am 76 and I have a defibrillator and old man’s asthma, so I was at the top of the list, and gratefully so,” Gee said. “So if anyone wants to talk to me about what it felt like- it felt perfect.”
Experts believe the vaccine is the quickest way to return to some normal activities.
While the university has survived financially, there has been increased cost and financial losses during the fall semester. Recently, AD Shane Lyons totaled pandemic losses totaling $25 million. In response, the university has enacted several cost control measures to improve its position for fiscal year 2021.
“I would encourage everyone as soon as it’s available to get vaccinated,” Gee said. “That’s the way we’re going to deal with the disease, but also I think it’s a real opportunity for us.”