As of Monday (Feb. 15), the University was reporting a weekly COVID-19 testing positivity rate of 3.5% for students and employees, which is well below the national average of 9.13%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 data tracker. Across the state and country, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths due to the virus are declining.
However, with new variants of the virus in states surrounding West Virginia, it’s important that everyone continue to practice caution and follow health and safety guidance for wearing masks, physical distancing, hand hygiene, self-symptom monitoring and getting tested when symptomatic.
The following updates are based on the current COVID-19 situation and are subject to further change throughout the remainder of the semester. The University will continue to closely monitor the local situation and will make necessary changes based on what is in the best interest for the health and safety of students, faculty, staff and local community.
These changes, unless otherwise noted, only pertain to the Morgantown campus.
Starting Friday, Feb. 19, student organizations will be allowed to host in-person events but must be limited to 25 people (or 50% capacity of venue if fewer than 25) while following the University’s policies for wearing masks and physical distancing. A virtual format is the default for any event; any in-person activity requires a staff consultation and prior approval and must be restricted to current members of the organizations. These guidelines were implemented last fall and are being reinstated.
Student organizations may also resume tabling outdoors.
In addition, activities within the residence halls can continue with the same gathering limitations.
Club sports may resume practicing and conditioning; Campus Recreation staff will send information and protocols to club officers/leadership. As per University guidelines, travel will not be permitted, and clubs may not host visiting teams.
Adventure WV will offer outdoor gear rentals and some in-person programming, including activities at the Outdoor Recreation Center. A full list of programs and guidelines is available at Spring Adventure Series.
The University will continue to monitor the local and campus situation and will open the Rec Center when it is safe to do so. The Center’s use as a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site continues.
In addition, on-campus tours for prospective students and families will resume March 1.
The University plans to have in-person Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 (May and December graduates) and the Class of 2021 at Milan Puskar Stadium on May 15-16. This is subject to change based on the local COVID-19 situation at the time of the event.
The ceremonies will take place rain or shine. Masks will be required for anyone entering the stadium. The event will be organized to allow for adequate physical distancing. Guests will be limited based on health and safety occupancy guidelines.
All graduates interested in participating in the weekend must register in advance. Registration instructions and additional details will be shared March 1 at http://graduation.wvu.edu.
The ceremony will also be live streamed for those who are unable to return to campus or who would rather experience Commencement virtually.
Maymester and Summer Session
The University is launching its first “Maymester,” which is modeled after the Winter Intersession. Maymester will be a rigorous, three-week term offering fully online courses. It will run May 10-28, and students can earn up to five credit hours taking no more than two courses. Registration opens Tuesday, March 16, and complete details are online at summer.wvu.edu/maymester.
In addition to the new Maymester, students may also choose to continue their studies during Summer Session, which runs May 17-Aug. 6. The University will offer a variety of online and on-campus courses in 3-, 6-, 8-, 9- and 12-week formats. Course time frames and delivery formats can be determined when looking at the course schedule. Any on-campus courses will follow the same health and safety protocols as our Fall and Spring in-person courses. Students and instructors will be required to wear appropriate PPE, adhere to physical distancing guidelines and maintain seating charts and regular attendance for potential contact tracing needs. As with Maymester, registration opens March 16, and complete details can be found at summer.wvu.edu.
The University has determined that in-person camps can take place on campus this summer, though some camps will remain virtual. Camp organizers choosing to host in-person camps will be required to follow guidance provided by local medical experts as well as the CDC and the American Camp Association. This guidance also affects the Beckley and Keyser campuses. Those who are considering an in-person camp this summer should email email@example.com for more information.
Fall semester plans
The University plans to return to in-person classes this fall and will follow the most current health and safety guidelines at that time to help ensure the safety of all students, faculty, staff and community members. More detailed information will be provided this summer and will be based on public health conditions at the time.
The University has shared detailed information for those who are interested in and have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. As the state has launched its community vaccination sites, WVU will phase out its vaccination clinic next month after administering vaccines to employees who are at least 50 years old. Those 49 years old and younger are encouraged to sign up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine through West Virginia’s pre-registration portal.
WVU employees and students who are not West Virginia residents should also contact their local health department for guidance on COVID-19 vaccine registration options.
All WVU students and employees are also reminded about the critical importance of wearing a mask, practicing physical distancing, avoiding large indoor gatherings and following COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
Additional directions and information are available on the Return to Campus website.
Quarantine following vaccination
WVU is now following CDC guidance which states those who have been fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine if exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 if they meet the following criteria:
● It has been two weeks since the person’s second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
● It is within three months of a person’s second dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.
● The person is asymptomatic.
People who do not meet all of the above criteria should continue to follow current quarantine guidance after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Those who do meet these criteria must provide WVU Shared Services with proof of vaccination during contact tracing.
At this time, those who have been fully vaccinated should continue to follow all safety guidance, including travel, as there is limited information on how much the vaccines might reduce transmission and how long protection lasts. In addition, the efficacy of the vaccines against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants is not known.
Last week, the CDC announced additional guidance for mask wearers. The guidance notes that it is most important to find a mask that fits snug to the face. However, wearing double layers or two masks provides additional protection, according to the CDC. The University is currently studying the efficacy of double-masking and will provide a recommendation in the near future.
Additional information and updates are available at the Return to Campus website.
CONTACT: April Kaull, Executive Director of Communications/University Relations
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