During a wide-ranging campus conversation Thursday, West Virginia University officials said there are no plans for additional furloughs this fall.
Rob Alsop, WVU’s vice president for strategic initiatives, said he can’t guarantee there won’t be financial pain during the fall semester. But at this point there are no plans for additional furloughs, Alsop said, responding to a question raised during a return-to-campus videoconference, the university’s ninth such presentation.
“We have to see how revenue comes in,” he said.
In May, the university announced it was temporarily furloughing 875 employees at its campuses in Morgantown, Beckley and Keyser, in an effort to plug a $30 million budget shortfall brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The move saved the university $4 million.
“They are all now back at work,” Alsop said.
Provost Maryanne Reed said in a June 29 letter to faculty that this year’s Notice of Appointment letters would be amended in case additional personnel measures become necessary in response to COVID.
Her letter also said that during the appointment, the university reserves the right to temporarily adjust or reduce salary, or require a faculty member to take unpaid furlough days. A decision could come in early August, when the university knows what is going on with its enrollment.
Even though many students this fall will find their classes have been moved online — the academic calendar will be announced Wednesday — there are no plans to reduce tuition. For in-state residents, the tuition and fees come to $8,976, and for out-of-state residents, it is $25,320, according to WVU’s web site.
Students, however, who have been moved to online courses will be charged $220 in fees as opposed to $660, a savings of $440. There will also be a 6.42% decrease in residence hall costs and a 6.36% decline in dining hall costs. There will be no changes in dining dollars or premium meal plans.
The number of students in Morgantown is 24,000, but only 8,000 to 10,000 students are expected to be on campus.
Alsop and other WVU officials reiterated that its decision to move the start of the semester back by one week and have the bulk of its courses online is not a precursor to shutting down the campus and switching to remote learning. “We don’t know everything, but we know how to slow the spread,” Alsop said.
School of Public Health dean Dr. Jeffrey Coben said university officials started planning for students to return to campus in May. But a spike in positive cases in Monongalia County in the college-age population led to delaying the start of the semester and determining ways to reduce the number of people on campus in Morgantown.
“If there is a large outbreak and it’s unmanageable, then we could shift to online,” Coben said.
“There’s not a specific tipping point. This is constantly changing.”
Testing of students will now continue through Aug. 22 at the Mountainlair and the Student Rec Center from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. University officials are not releasing test results until it has a mechanism in place so results can be visible to everyone.
If a student living in university housing develops the novel coronavirus during the semester, they will be moved to Arnold Apartments. Students who have recovered from the virus will not be retested.
“There is a regular check-in from the county health department,” Coben said, adding the patient’s symptoms will be reviewed.