The West Virginia University System announced Wednesday plans to bring students and employees back to campuses in the fall, a plan that includes the mandatory wearing of masks — even during classes — to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
On its website, WVU also announced many employees would continue to work remotely. The site also announced that “all efforts will be made to provide students with a schedule that offers a mix of instruction,” which could combine online and in-person learning. Class sizes will be halved “when possible,” WVU said.
Campus dining won’t have buffets, but delivery and pick-up options will be expanded, it said. The plans didn’t mention sports events.
Wednesday’s news release announcing the plans cautioned that “even though [the] plans are to return, the University continues to monitor the situation and consult with public health and government officials in case it needs to change course.”
The plan applies to the main Morgantown campus, plus WVU’s Institute of Technology in Beckley and its Potomac State College in Keyser.
The fall and spring semesters are planned to have no breaks during which students leave campus for an extended period. There will still be a winter break between the end of the fall semester and the start of the spring semester.
“Spring Break will be canceled in 2021,” the website says, “but several study days will be added where no instruction takes place.”
Here’s the planned schedule, per the news release and website:
Mid-July to Aug. 11: All students and employees must complete a COVID-19 education course.
Sometime before coming to campus: All students and employees must be tested for the coronavirus, and “WVU will continue to conduct surveillance testing throughout the fall.”
Aug. 19: Students begin fall semester.
Nov. 24: Students remain on campus through this date, when they get out for Thanksgiving break. They won’t return to campus until spring.
Nov. 30-Dec. 4: Week of online classes.
Dec. 7-11: Online finals to end the fall semester.
Jan. 19: Spring classes begin.
April 30: Spring classes end.
May 3-7: On-campus finals.
“A separate, phased schedule for staff and faculty to return to campus will be released at a later date,” WVU said.
There will also be “limits on travel and visitation to campus,” among other precautions, WVU said. It did not specify what the limits will be.
“Study abroad has been canceled for fall,” it did say. “A decision regarding the spring semester has not been made.”
Dr. Clay Marsh, WVU’s vice president and executive dean for health sciences, said in the release that “the tricky part will be the Return to Campus, and the most effective way to reopen safely, slow the spread of the virus, protect our campus community and save lives is to wear a mask.”
Students will be given a kit including masks and other items, WVU said. Visitors will also be required to wear masks.
The website will be updated as new information becomes available, and every Tuesday from June 16 through Aug. 4, new info will be emailed to WVU email addresses, the school said.