While some universities have set guidelines as to what would trigger a campus-wide shutdown, West Virginia University is focusing on state and local statistics to determine whether on-campus courses are safe to continue.
WVU spokesperson April Kaull said positive tests, county positivity rates, county rate of transmission, and hospitalizations and capacity are all being considered by the University to decide whether or not to keep the campus open.
Although WVU has been in contact with local and state health departments for guidance on best practices, it is ultimately up to the University to decide to revert to fully remote learning.
Jeffery Coben, dean of the school of public health at WVU, said the University is focusing on new cases, rather than overall cases.
“We’re looking at a lot of different things," Coben said. "The short answer is, there is not a specific line in the sand."
In the case of a death on campus related to COVID-19, Kaull said the University would consider a combination of factors in making any determination regarding a shift from in-person to online classes.
"It would be a tragedy we hope we never have to face," Kaull said. "That is why we are stressing repeatedly the importance of every individual following all safety protocols and guidelines to keep our community safe."
In addition to testing all faculty and students before the semester started, WVU has implemented masking and social distancing guidelines. In addition, it has instrumented a mandatory daily wellness check, which is delivered to each student and faculty member’s emails each morning.
Despite the precautions taken to avoid spread, some students are skeptical about how effective it will be.
“Reopening dorms, I think, was probably the worst idea," said Jessica Cheuvront, a junior criminology student. "If one person gets it, and they have a roommate, their roommates already been exposed, so now their roommate is also in quarantine for two weeks.”
Moving forward with the year, Cheuvront said she believes the school needs to have a set percentage of cases among students that would be the indicator of another campus shutdown.