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Taking the next steps together to slow COVID-19

March 18, 2020


Dear West Virginia University family,

In my 40 years as a university president, the crisis at hand is like none other I have ever experienced. As our nation grapples with the devastating novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that we at West Virginia University do all we can to support our state and our country.

First, let me assure you that our University has risen to the occasion to ensure the safety of our campus communities. I want to thank our leadership, our faculty and staff, and our students for their willingness to lead during this challenging time. Together, we have been making difficult decisions based on ever-evolving information. However, the health and well-being of our University family is – and will always be – our utmost concern.

Yesterday, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in West Virginia. It is clear the pace of this pandemic will only continue to grow across the United States. Our medical experts share that there is little chance of it slowing down – unless we quickly and accurately implement measures that can impede the community spread and “flatten the curve.” Our Governor has declared a state of emergency requesting citizens take all necessary precautions.

Therefore, it is critical – not only to our community but also to our state – that we implement the following immediately:

By 4:45 p.m. on Friday, March 20, West Virginia University will have taken or have begun implementing the following steps to protect our students, faculty, staff and communities:

Online Instruction

  • For the remainder of the semester, all classes, except some clinical rotations and related programming for certain programs at the Health Sciences Center, will not be conducted in-class and will be delivered in an alternative format beginning March 30.
  • Courses that were fully online at the beginning of the semester should continue to follow the original syllabus.
  • Faculty and instructors will be in touch with further directions.
  • You can learn more about the academic success measures that are in place. Check back frequently for updated and new information.  

Students

  • We are strongly advising and requesting that students do not return to campus. If you have a safe alternative for housing, we need you to pursue those options.
  • If you have no other alternative, the University will work with you to find accommodations, though rooms will be limited.
  • Services will be extremely limited on campus.
  • If you have a dining plan or are a current resident in the residence hall system or the University apartment system, the University is developing a plan to provide a credit to you as a result of our moving to the period of no in-class instruction. We will provide additional details in the coming days.
  • There will be future communication on a coordinated move-out effort for University residence halls, and we ask that you wait to return to campus to obtain your belongings until that announcement.
  • You do not need to return to campus to move your items from your residence hall room or apartment at this time in order to receive a credit. All facilities will be securely locked. If you have any concerns about an item left in your residence, please contact ResLife@mail.wvu.edu.  
  • If you are a student worker, there will be limited opportunities for remote work. Please contact your supervisor for details.
  • There will be a variety of resources that can be found online, including information about tutoring, mental health counseling, library access, online teaching and learning tips and more.
  • For graduate students, please follow specific instructions that have been outlined.
  • For students in the health professions programs at Health Sciences, your School’s website will include specific information about your discipline, including field placements, clinical rotations, etc.
  • For students in the College of Law, additional information can be found at Spring 2020 Law Class Information.
  • For students at WVU Tech, there is additional information pertaining to the Beckley campus.

Faculty and Staff

  • We are directing all supervisors to maximize the number of employees who are to work from home effective no later than Friday, March 20. This is not an option. Please work with your supervisor and HR partner to develop a work plan if you have not done so already.
  • ONLY those employees who are deemed critical to the alternative method of class instruction, or the safety and maintenance of the University that requires an employee to be on campus will be permitted. Your supervisor will be in contact with you to develop a work plan if they have not done so already.
  • The University has adopted a special  emergency leave plan for instances where an  alternative work arrangement is not possible.

Researchers

Commencement

  • The University is still evaluating and will announce on Wednesday, March 25 as to whether holding commencement will be possible. Please check the Commencement website for updates.

Campus Security

  • To enhance campus security and for the safety of all, we will be keeping all campus buildings closed to the public, effective at 4:45 p.m. Friday, March 20, with limited exceptions. Those with keys and key card access will still be able to access buildings to undertake University work. 
  • At the Health Sciences campuses, entrances are locked or will require swipe access, with the exception of four locations.
  • If you need short-term access to retrieve necessary work-related items, you can access the buildings using swipe cards or keys, similar to weekend access.

Buildings and Transportation Closures

  • All campus libraries will be closed effective 4:45 p.m. on Thursday, March 19.
  • The Rec Center on Morgantown’s campus is closed.
  • All residence halls will be closed, except those designated to accommodate students with no other alternatives for housing. Other than the Evansdale Café, residential dining will be closed.
  • The Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system will be closed for passenger service until further notice.
  • The Mountainlair and Evansdale Crossing will be closed. The Mountainlair will have limited hours for those who need to access The Rack.

Buildings and Transportation Open on Limited Basis

  • Limited dining will be available. Check for dining locations and hours.
  • The University bus shuttles will replace PRT service during this time. Bus shuttles will run Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on a continuous loop between the Mountainlair, Towers and Mountaineer Station. Bus service also will be available through Mountain Line; however, some routes also have adjusted schedules and hours of service.

Travel Advisory

Events and Programs

  • To ensure social distancing, all on-campus events and programs, including all athletic competitions, have been canceled through the end of the semester.

Resources

  • There are a wide variety of resources that can be found online including information about tutoring, mental health counseling, library access, online teaching and learning tips and more.

Health Precautions

  • WVU's COVID-19 website will continue to update the University community with the most recent information. Please be mindful to wash your hands and take all the necessary precautions to protect yourself. We know that people can be asymptomatic and still spread the virus. Older adults and those with high-risk health concerns are especially vulnerable. Please use good judgment and do your part to stop community spread.


Finally, I know in the coming days, many of you will experience a myriad of emotions, including being frustrated and even a little sad that you are not able to complete the semester as planned. I can assure you, that I, along with the entire campus community, share that sentiment.  We will miss you.

However, I am reassured by the fact that the world’s best scientific minds and public health authorities are hard at work trying to understand COVID-19 and how to address its life-threatening symptoms. And as a University, we are doing everything possible to respond aggressively and thoughtfully in the best interest of our West Virginia University family.

And though much is yet to be determined, this I know for sure: Mountaineers are resilient. We have already seen people helping others in this crisis. Curiosity is infusing new ideas on how we can learn. We have demonstrated a deeper appreciation for each other and the experiences we share. These examples of the genuine care we have for each other are but a reflection of the core Mountaineer values that drive each of us.

So, as we continue through this uncertain and unprecedented journey together, please reach out with questions and concerns at coronavirus@mail.wvu.edu. We are here for you and remain committed to your success. Together, we will prevail and emerge stronger.

Until then, be safe. Be smart and be well – and know that I look forward to having you back on this campus we call home.  

Warmest regards,

Signature of E. Gordon Gee

E. Gordon Gee
President, West Virginia University