MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — WVU officials are hoping for a smooth fall semester, but they said Thursday it will take cooperation and more of those associated with the campus community getting vaccinated to make it happen.
Several WVU officials participated in a campus conservation event to further explaining COVID-19 related adjustments to the fall semester opening announced earlier this week.
Students, faculty and staff who are fully vaccinated and have verified their status do not have to follow protocols including surveillance testing, mandatory testing and quarantine following out-of-state travel or possible coronavirus exposure.
WVU Vice President & Executive Dean for Health Sciences Dr. Clay Marsh said fully vaccinated people have more freedom in addition to a high level of protection from the virus.
“Even though people might be able to get re-infected if you’re fully vaccinated that full vaccination is incredibly protective in protecting you from being really severely ill, being hospitalized, going to the ICU or dying,” Marsh said.
For the last month, active coronavirus cases as well as hospitalizations have been on the rise. Nationally, the CDC reports 83% of all new infections are the Delta variant of the virus. West Virginia reports 118 cases of the Delta variant but state officials have said the actual number is likely significantly higher.
WVU Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop said that’s a very good reason for more people to be vaccinated.
“The Delta variant is on the rise and we need to be smart to work to protect ourselves and others,” Alsop said. “This is not a mandate, but it is a plea for personal accountability and responsibility as we work together to navigate COVID-19.”
WVU Dean of Students Corey Farris said the university is encouraging student organizations to consider meetings virtually or outside when possible due to concerns over the Delta variant.
“Consider instead of using a small classroom, but maybe using a much larger classroom which allows you to spread out a whole lot,” Farris said.
Students participating in club sports are asked to conduct those activities outdoors when possible. Those who are not vaccinated will have to wear masks and follow quarantine policies after team out-of-state travel or exposure.
All staff, faculty, students and visitors will be required to wear masks at all time on public transportation.
“Masks will be required for everybody on the PRT, WVU transportation and buses through at least September 13th per Transportation Security Administration guidance,” Alsop said.
Classrooms will be at 100% capacity and masks are recommended, plexiglass will be available for those who request it and hand sanitizer will be in ample supply. Students will also follow the regular academic schedule, WVU Provost Maryanne Reed said.
“We will not be offering the pass/fail option to students that we offered at the beginning of the COVID crisis,” she said. “Faculty and instructors are encouraged to return to their regular attendance policies that they had in place before COVID.”
Welcome Week activities will run from Aug. 12-20 with masks recommended for larger events. Classes begin Aug. 18.