West Virginia University is updating its mask guidelines. Beginning Monday, Sept. 13, all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to wear a mask indoors in all WVU System buildings and facilities through Oct. 6, when public health conditions will be reevaluated.
The new requirement supersedes a temporary revision announced on Aug. 17 for classrooms and labs. Although positive cases and quarantine instances involving WVU employees and students remain at manageable levels, the University is proactively making this move due to the recent significant increase of COVID-19 cases in West Virginia, including the increasing instances of hospitalization across the state.
Everyone entering campus buildings and facilities must wear a mask properly above the nose and keep it on while inside. Members of the WVU community do not need to wear a mask indoors when in personal office spaces, in small gatherings of 10 or less on residence hall floors and rooms, in personal vehicles, when eating or drinking, or while engaging in fitness activities.
Because it is primarily an outdoor event, this mask requirement also does not include areas of Milan Puskar Stadium (i.e., restrooms, suites, press box) at this time. However, the University continues to strongly encourage masks to be worn in the Hall of Traditions, suites, restrooms or other indoor areas at the stadium.
This requirement will remain in place through Oct. 6 or until the University determines new guidance is warranted based on continued monitoring of factors including state, local and campus COVID-19 data. The University will be particularly focused on the vaccination rates of students and employees and the hospitalization rates across the state.
Masks continue to be required on the PRT and WVU buses through Jan. 18, 2022, under federal guidelines from the Transportation Security Administration.
WVU Transportation expects all passengers — regardless of vaccination status — to comply with this requirement while traveling on WVU transportation.
Demand is currently higher than capacity when it comes to care at WVU Medicine’s flagship J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. Albert L. Wright, Jr., president and CEO of the WVU Health System, explained that a number of factors, including staff shortages due to COVID-19 exposures, have created new health care challenges.
“This facility cares for critically ill patients from around West Virginia and the region,” Wright said. “Right now, we don’t have room for everyone so we’re calling on the smaller hospitals in our system to help handle the volume.”
Wright said they have been forced to consider other measures such as delaying scheduling for surgeries or other elective procedures.
Encouraging campus data
Despite a growing number of cases across the state, WVU’s campus data is trending in a positive direction. The number of students in isolation or under quarantine is lower now than at the same time last year, and vaccination verification rates continue to climb among students and employees.
Currently, vaccination verification rates across the WVU system are as follows:
- Morgantown Staff/Faculty – 73.83%
- Morgantown Students – 76.70%
- Keyser Staff/Faculty – 73.21%
- Keyser Students – 34.83%
- Beckley Staff/Faculty – 75.36%
- Beckley Students – 53.55%
“I am encouraged to see that more of our students and employees are choosing to be vaccinated,” President Gordon Gee said.
“However, we must continue to do our part as a campus community to mitigate spread and not add to the strain on the healthcare system,” Gee continued. “This revision to our mask guidelines is a necessary extension of the common sense, data-driven approach we have taken since the pandemic began.”
Vaccination and testing resources
WVU Medicine Student Health has the Pfizer vaccine available for WVU students at its clinic in the Health and Education Building. Walk-in appointments are offered during regular business hours (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
The Monongalia County Health Department offers free vaccinations by appointment on most days at its facility at 453 Van Voorhis Rd. Anyone who wishes to be vaccinated can call the Monongalia County Health Department at 304-598-5119 to schedule an appointment.
Other vaccination opportunities can be found at vaccines.gov. Vaccines continue to be readily available across the country.
The University also continues to partner with the Monongalia County Health Department to hold vaccination clinics and testing on campus.
Free COVID-19 community testing is available at the Student Recreation Center:
- Mondays – 8 a.m. to noon
- Tuesdays – noon to 4 p.m.
- Wednesdays – noon to 4 p.m.
- Thursdays – 8 a.m. to noon
- Fridays – 8 a.m. to noon
Testing and vaccination information for WVU Tech students and employees are available on the Beckley Return to Campus website. Similarly, testing information for students and employees at WVU Potomac State College can be found on the WVU Keyser Return to Campus site.
The University encourages all students, employees and visitors to continue physical distancing when possible and wear a mask in crowded spaces – even when outdoors.
COVID-19 updates are available through WVU’s public dashboard on the Return to Campus website which features daily testing information updated by 2 p.m., as well as vaccination verification rates, isolation and quarantine data updated each Wednesday by 2 p.m.
Visit the Return to Campus website for more information and the latest COVID-19 updates. WVU Health Sciences has updated the coronavirus.wvu.edu website to reflect the most up-to-date information on vaccines and the delta variant.
CONTACT: April Kaull
Executive Director of Communications
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