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COVID-19 guidance updated as omicron cases and hospitalizations climb in West Virginia

RETURN TO CAMPUS West Virginia University

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With the continued spread of the omicron variant and increased hospitalization rates in the state and region, West Virginia University is providing additional guidance on campus health and safety protocols including masking, testing, vaccines and isolation.

"Despite the recent surge in cases over the past few weeks, the high rates of vaccination in our campus community has helped to minimize serious symptoms for those who have contracted the virus,” said Dr. Jeffrey Coben, dean of the School of Public Health and associate vice president for Health Affairs. “We hope and anticipate that cases will begin to decline in the days ahead. However, our state’s hospitals are operating at or above capacity, and we must continue to follow the health and safety protocols that have been instituted to keep our communities safe.” 

Dr. Clay Marsh, WVU Health Sciences vice president and executive dean and West Virginia’s COVID-19 czar, recently shared insight on where we are in the pandemic and how we can continue to protect ourselves and our communities.

Key takeaways:

  • Mask policy extended through Feb. 25
  • Get vaccinated and boosted; verify vaccination by Jan. 28
  • Isolation release date is set at 5 days from your positive test date as long as symptoms have resolved, including fever. Followed by wearing a mask.
  • Testing offered at the WVU Rec Center
  • COVID-19 Dashboard updated on Wednesdays

Mask policy extended through Feb. 25

Masks will continue to be required for everyone — regardless of vaccination status — indoors in all WVU System buildings and facilities through at least Feb. 25 when public health conditions will again be reevaluated. 

Masks continue to be required for passengers on the PRT and WVU buses through March 18 under federal guidelines from the Transportation Security Administration.

Additionally, masks are required inside the Mountainlair, Evansdale Crossing and dining halls except when eating. Masks are also required inside the WVU Student Rec Center except when exercising.

Masks are also required in clinical and patient care areas of the Health Sciences Campuses.

WVU Medicine has updated its mask policy and is strongly encouraging non-clinical staff who do not work in patient care areas to switch to a medical-grade mask, not cloth masks, and is also no longer allowing the use of gaiters at any of its hospitals, clinics or non-clinical work sites.

While strongly encouraged, masks are not required of individuals in private office spaces behind closed doors. With the mutual consent of the participants, masks may be removed in private meetings.

Masks are also strongly encouraged, but not required indoors at WVU Athletics venues during public events.

School of Public Health general preventive medicine residents answer some frequently asked questions about masks, including the KN95 mask, recommended by WVU, and N95 mask, used widely in patient-care settings.

Get vaccinated and boosted

Watch this video with Dr. Carmen Burrell, medical director of WVU Medicine Student Health and Urgent Care, as she answers important questions about COVID-19 vaccine boosters like when to get one, how long to wait after infection and which one to get.

The University continues to strongly encourage, but not require, vaccinations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data from recent studies suggest that boosters significantly enhance vaccine effectiveness against infection of the omicron variant. Boosters also decrease the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death for those who are vaccinated but become infected with COVID-19.

In partnership with the Monongalia County Health Department, WVU will continue to host COVID-19 vaccine clinics throughout the spring semester at the WVU Student Rec Center. WVU Medicine Student Health has walk-in appointments available for WVU students during regular business hours for the Pfizer vaccine at its clinic in the Health and Education Building.

Vaccines continue to be readily available across the state and country.

Those on the Health Sciences Campus involved in patient care, including residents, fellows and students, are required to follow separate WVU Medicine or other clinical provider’s policies, including those related to COVID-19 such as masks, PPE and vaccinations.

Please check WVU’s Return to Campus site for the most up-to-date information on vaccine clinics and how to schedule an appointment.

Verifying a COVID-19 vaccination by Jan. 28

Prior to Friday, Jan. 28, all students, faculty and staff who are on campus should take one of the following actions to verify their vaccine status with the University. 

Updated Isolation guidance

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you are required to isolate for at least 5 days. This includes any positive PCR test or any positive rapid antigen test. Based on updated CDC guidance, your release date will be set at 5 days from your positive test date as long as your symptoms have resolved. If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves. Continue to wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.

Students living in residence halls on the Morgantown campus will be isolated in Gaskins House or Lyon Tower. Those living off campus will isolate in their residences.

Testing available most days the WVU Rec Center

Beginning Tuesday, Feb. 1, free COVID-19 community testing at the WVU Student Rec Center in partnership with the Monongalia County Health Department will be available on Mondays, Tuesdays and most Thursdays and Fridays throughout February.

  • Mondays (7 a.m. to noon) – Feb. 7, 14, and 28
  • Tuesdays (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) – Feb. 2, 8, 15 and 22
  • Thursdays (8 a.m. to noon) – Feb. 3 and 10
  • Fridays (8 a.m. to noon) – Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25

No appointment required, and no pre-registration is required for WVU students and employees.

Check the Return to Campus site frequently for updated information on community testing, including for WVU Tech students and employees and those at WVU Potomac State College.

COVID-19 dashboard

Given the change in requirements for students, faculty and staff to be considered optimally vaccinated for COVID-19 at WVU, the University’s public dashboard will be updated to report the vaccination verification rate on a biweekly basis beginning in early February for the MorgantownBeckley and Keyser campuses.

The dashboard will be available every Wednesday by 2 p.m. and will share the latest data including testing and isolation numbers.

Communications

Visit the Return to Campus website for the latest COVID-19 updates. New information also will continue to be shared in MOUNTAINEER E-News for employees and Unews for students.

Questions related to COVID-19 and WVU’s health and safety protocols can be sent via email to returntocampus@mail.wvu.edu.

-WVU-

UR/01/27/22

MEDIA CONTACT: April Kaull
Executive Director of Communications
University Relations
304-293-3990; April.Kaull@mail.wvu.edu

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