In a letter addressed to the West Virginia University Campus Community on Monday, WVU Provost Maryanne Reed discussed the University's academic plans in attempting to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the fall semester.
Reed's letter comes as a more detailed memo after the University released limited information about operations during the 2020-21 academic year last week.
In-person instruction during the fall semester, which is expected to begin on its original start date of Aug. 19, will end on Nov. 24. The remaining two weeks of the semester, including finals week (Dec. 14-18), will take place online.
The spring semester is expected to begin a week later than previously scheduled, starting on Jan. 19.
The University also canceled both fall and spring breaks, citing a need to minimize travel in order to limit "risk of exposure and potential virus surge in our communities." Study abroad trips for the fall semester have also been canceled.
Upon coming to campus in the fall, students will receive a "Welcome Back Kit" that includes containing a cloth mask as well as disposable ones. All students and instructors will be required to wear masks, in addition to following social distancing guidelines.
Students who fail to follow the University-issued guidelines could face student conduct sanctions, according to the letter, while University employees could also face disciplinary action.
Around campus, cleaning supplies, such as hand sanitizer, will be made available. High-touch areas in University buildings will be disinfected in accordance with CDC guidelines, according to the letter.
Reed writes that one of the University's primary goals is to reduce classroom density by 50%, and says that numerous courses will be moved online in order to open up larger classrooms. Another option for classes will be a hybrid format, utilizing both in-person instruction and online resources.
Reed expects the University's course schedule to be finalized by the end of June.
"By June 30, if not sooner, we will release a finalized course schedule for Fall 2020 that will include for each course, the classroom location, the days and time the course will be offered, as well as mode of delivery if it is not being delivered face-to-face," Reed wrote.
The University also encourages office hours to be held virtually, so to limit the amount of people on campus.
In the classroom, the University is currently developing a more flexible attendance policy in recognition that students may become ill. The University will also ensure that students who cannot attend class are "provided with alternate opportunities to receive course content and meet course outcomes."
"Even with these changes in place, I can assure you that all WVU students will receive the quality instruction they have come to expect – and deserve – regardless of delivery mode," Reed wrote.
The entire letter can be read here.