West Virginia University students who plan to be on campus next month for classes will be assigned seats as a COVID-19 precaution, university officials said Thursday during its latest campus-wide video conference with faculty, staff and students.
Corey Farris, WVU’s dean of students, said assigned seats will promote social distancing, and details on seating arrangements are still being worked out by the Provost’s office. This will also be used by the university and the Monongalia County Health Department if contact tracing is needed.
Special seating accommodations will be made for students who need to sit closer to instructors, he added.
Many of WVU’s classes at its main campus for the fall will be held off site at locations throughout Morgantown for social distancing. Only about 30% of its fall offerings will be online, officials said.
All university libraries should be open by Aug. 10, but what’s still not known is the status of the Student Recreation Center. It will be available for classroom space, but whether it will be open for other uses such as exercise space have still not been determined.
“We just don’t have an answer yet on that because of the spike of (COVID-19) cases in Monongalia County,” Farris said.
“If the rec center is closed, there will be adjustments in student fees.”
Rob Alsop, WVU’s vice president for Strategic Initiatives, said emails will be sent to students this week to schedule a move-in date for residence halls, as well as a reminder to take the COVID-19 module test and schedule a time to take a WVU-sanctioned COVID-19 test.
Failure to take a COVID-19 test, or to complete the virus module will result in a $250 fine. Alsop said students cannot use an outside COVID-19 test, or simply pay the fine.
“This is how we need to do it,” he said.
Added Farris: “If you don’t take the test, then you don’t go to class.”
Student activities will also be different this semester, Farris said during the presentation.
Most student organizations will be required to hold their meetings online, he said. That, however, could change by Sept. 1 if personal protective gear is used and people social distance themselves.
Farris said the university will be holding a number of events that students can participate in safely, including chip and putt contests, movie nights and even mask-making events. There are also plans for virtual activities such as cooking classes, as well as community game night.
Separately, fraternities and sororities will be able to hold Rush this fall, but no details were given.
Lastly, the university opted not to use its Personal Rapid Transit System this year.
Alsop said more buses will be used to move students from the Downtown, Evansdale and Health Sciences campuses. Because commutes may take longer this fall, Alsop said instructors have been asked to be more lenient.