As the spring semester is drawing to a close, WVU leaders held a campus conversation on May 6 to discuss plans for the Fall 2021 semester. The conversation covered vaccination resources, health and safety protocols and various aspects of student life.
“Our number 1 priority is to ensure that we can get all of our students back into the classroom in a face-to-face instruction modality so that they can begin to experience that college experience and those learning opportunities,” Dean of the School of Public Health Jeffrey Coben said.
While the vaccine will not be mandatory, the university is strongly encouraging faculty and staff to get vaccinated. Decisions regarding the return of pre-pandemic activities will depend on community immunity levels and infection rates.
Coben reminded attendees of the safety and effectiveness of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
“99.9% of people who’ve been vaccinated have been protected and have no evidence of COVID-19 following the vaccination,” said Coben. “Nothing is 100% but 99.9% is really amazing, and it’s an amazing opportunity for all of us to help end this pandemic.”
Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Rob Alsop, encouraged attendees to get vaccinated.
“This vaccine is going to pull us out of this pandemic and it provides invaluable, immeasurable protection against a very dangerous virus that is spreading and the variants are spreading on,” Alsop said.
To track vaccination rates, WVU has created a COVID-19 Vaccine Verification System. Students, faculty and staff who have been fully vaccinated must verify their vaccine with the university by August 1 using myhousing.wvu.edu.
The university has set a vaccination goal of 80% for students, faculty and staff. The campus vaccination rate will be posted online and updated every Tuesday.
Alsop addressed some people’s hesitancy about receiving the vaccine. “If you think that there are a number of reasons not to take the vaccine, I encourage you to talk to a healthcare provider and get the real facts about these vaccinations,” Alsop said.
According to the recent student feedback survey conducted by the university, 85% reported receiving or planning to receive the vaccine, 71% felt extremely or very comfortable with holding in-person classes and 70% felt extremely or very comfortable knowing that masks will be required on campus.
The university hopes to reopen various on-campus amenities that were unavailable during the 2020-2021 school year. This will include the reopening of on-campus dining locations and the limited use of the PRT and Rec Center.
Activities such as club sports, WVUp All Night, student organization meetings, Welcome Week, etc. will also resume with restrictions in place.
The university hopes to continue to ease restrictions and allow more activities to resume in stages as on-campus vaccination percentages reach thresholds of 50%, 60% and 75%. Specific changes can be found on the Return to Campus website.
The Fall 2021 semester will begin Wednesday, August 18.