Eyeing a return to campus amid the coronavirus pandemic, West Virginia University administrators addressed safety and protocol for the upcoming fall semester during a Return to Campus Conversations webinar on Thursday.
WVU Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop said that every single person returning to WVU would be subject to a test in order to ensure safety. Associate Vice President for Health Affairs Jeffrey Coben said that testing results would be put into a database and monitored daily, with those testing positive going into self-quarantine. The University would then conduct contract tracing to identify others who could have acquired the virus.
Faculty, staff and students will be required to schedule their tests via email in the next few weeks. Alsop said testing will take less than five minutes to complete, and welcome back kits with masks, hand sanitizer and other essentials will be distributed upon completion.
Alsop said that no undergraduate students would be doing testing, but instead graduate students that have proper training to conduct tests.
The tests themselves will not be the deep nasal swab that some might expect, but instead a lower nasal swab. Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences Clay Marsh noted that both forms of the test are approved by the FDA.
Freshmen students who test positive will be required to self-quarantine in Arnold Hall, a residence hall that is temporarily opening after it ceased operations in 2017. Families will also be able to come and pick-up students that test positive.
The panel agreed that much of the responsibility will fall upon the students to ensure that campus remains a safe environment. The University is also working with businesses in Morgantown in an effort to prevent any spread of the virus.
As change comes rapidly these days, WVU will continue to monitor the situation through July and into August to ensure that students can safely return to school. Classes for the fall semester are currently set to start on August 19.