WVU students heading back to in-person classes Monday
MORGANTOWN — West Virginia University will resume in-person undergraduate classes on the Morgantown campus beginning Monday, the university announced Wednesday afternoon.
“The data drove our decision and I am so delighted all indications are we can safely return to in-person instruction,” President Gordon Gee said.
The same percentage of courses will be conducted in-person as when WVU initially began the semester. Those students with in-person instruction should resume their schedules on Monday.
“We are pleased that the measures we’ve taken will allow us to bring students back to the classrooms,” Maryanne Reed, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said.
In-person instruction for undergraduate students was canceled and a temporary shift to online learning was announced Sept. 7 in response to an increase in positive virus cases in students and a concern about a potential increase in cases following several reports of parties held over the Labor Day weekend where groups should have been in quarantine.
The university and Monongalia County health experts have monitored a number of factors during the two-week pause. Positive COVID-19 tests in the county are trending down, as is the Rt rate.
“The student daily positive case numbers are down, including those tests conducted outside the WVU system,” Dr. Jeffrey Coben, associate vice president of health affairs and dean of the School of Public Health, said. “Additionally, we have seen consistent declines in student quarantine and isolation cases.”
Arnold Apartments, WVU’s designated isolation space for residence hall students, has a 40 percent occupancy. And the local hospitalization rate is low and includes no students.
Since return-to-campus testing began on July 20, WVU has had five faculty and staff positive cases on the Morgantown campus, none found to be from a classroom or on-campus exposure. The university’s data dashboard is updated 2 p.m. weekdays.
Corey Farris, dean of students, said while the pause contributed to a decline in numbers, it also helped reset expectations for life on and off campus during the pandemic.
“I understand when students are hanging out with their friends off campus it might be easy for some to let down their guard but it’s so important to remember the safety guidelines all of the time,” Farris said. “I am so proud of the overwhelming majority of our students who understand they need to wear a mask, practice physical distancing, avoid large indoor gatherings in social settings and follow the rules so we stay here on campus. And we will continue to hold those who are not following the necessary guidelines accountable for their actions.”
According to the latest information from the Office of Student Conduct:
∫ Approximately 120 students have received, or will receive, COVID-19-related sanctions, up to and including probation
∫ Thirty students have been placed on interim suspension pending hearings, 24 students have been suspended, three students have been placed on deferred suspension, sanctions against three students were reduced to probation after their hearings and 14 students are awaiting possible hearings.
Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop called on students and employees to continue following the safety guidelines and to take advantage of new testing opportunities.
“I want to thank the governor, the National Guard and the Monongalia County Health Department for working with us to offer free community testing at the Student Rec Center,” Alsop said. “This testing is available every Wednesday for the foreseeable future to all WVU students, employees and residents of Monongalia County and it is not necessary to have COVID-19 symptoms to get tested.”
The university will continue to conduct testing of students who are symptomatic and those who may be at a higher risk for exposure. In addition, faculty and staff who are working on campus and are concerned they may have been exposed can also receive a test upon request.