A scene on the downtown campus on March 24, 2021.

The University has developed new guidelines for limited capacity events on campus during the remainder of the spring semester.

These additional guidelines for events were put together with the help of local public health officials to prioritize the safety of students, faculty and staff.

All on-campus events must follow WVU guidance for events and gatherings. All off-campus events must follow West Virginia state guidance for events and gatherings.

According to Sabrina Cave, executive director of student enrichment, these guidelines were modified given the low positivity rate and hospitalization numbers. 

“This is the time of the year in our academic semester when we celebrate our students’ accomplishments with various events such as award presentations and Commencement. It is important that we provide up-to-date information to those planning the events,” Cave said.

Dr. Carmen Burrell of WVU Health Sciences offered some advice from a healthcare perspective.

“As a clinician educator, I see each new phase of the State’s lifting of restriction as an opportunity to educate our campus community on how to participate in activities more safely. We continue to strongly encourage virtual events, programs and gatherings to help contain the spread of COVID-19,” Burrell said in an email.

“These guidelines were generated with the input of health professionals and University leadership who are taking a proactive approach to the reality that as restrictions lift, gatherings will become more frequent. We’re arming our community with the information they need to do so more safely.”

Event planners are required to complete the Event Planning Checklist and must obtain sign-off and approval from the relevant dean or vice president with oversight for the program. This written documentation must be uploaded in conjunction with the Event Planning Checklist for the event to be approved.

The announcement urged individuals to “please consider making an event a ‘ticketed’ event, particularly if attendance is greater than 30 people.” 

Ticketing should be conducted via an online portal to avoid physical transfer of documents upon arrival. Providing tickets in advance will help keep track of attendance and limit the number of attendees based on venue capacity. This may also assist with seating assignments.

According to Cave, ticketing events allows the organizer to track attendance and limit the number of attendees based on the venue capacity.  Student organizations can use this ticketing system. If groups don’t want to use the ticketing portal, they must provide a list of all attendees. 

Masks are required and mandatory for all WVU events including any indoor or outdoor locations and includes all WVU-owned and -operated facilities. Double-masking is recommended to decrease risk.

The warm weather does play a role in allowing more people to gather outside, but Burrell offered some insight for the upcoming weeks.

“As the weather warms, more people become vaccinated, and restrictions lift, people may become complacent in their efforts to curb the spread of the virus," she said. "As we near the finish line, we must continue taking measures to prevent the spread while slowly easing towards some of our pre-pandemic behaviors. These gathering guidelines are an example of how we’re balancing between those two norms."

The University is not recommending that vaccine status be considered as a factor in planning group events. COVID-19 vaccinations are not required for employees and students, although they are strongly encouraged. However, WVU asks students, faculty, staff and visitors to be considerate of others who are not vaccinated by wearing a mask and practicing physically distancing.