WVU temporarily shifts most undergraduate courses online amid increasing COVID-19 cases

MORGANTOWN — After an announcement Monday (Sept. 7) that most undergraduate, in-person classes on the Morgantown campus will move online for two weeks, President Gordon Gee detailed plans for the transition in a letter to the University community.

Gee’s letter summarized letter below began with, “We have been transparent throughout our return to campus planning that if we determined the local public health situation was deteriorating, the University would take swift and immediate action. The time has come to do so on the Morgantown campus.

“All in-person undergraduate classes will be canceled on Tuesday, Sept. 8 to prepare for the transition to online learning. Online classes and in-person graduate and professional courses will continue as scheduled.

“Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 9, all undergraduate courses in Morgantown, with the exception of those Health Sciences courses with students already engaged in clinical rotation, will move to online instruction through Friday, Sept. 25. Graduate and professional courses will continue to be offered in person. Courses already offered online will continue as scheduled.

“I know many will have questions regarding the WVU football game on Saturday, Sept. 12. The game will be played as long as WVU Intercollegiate Athletics and Eastern Kentucky University, in conjunction with the Big 12 and Ohio Valley Conference, deem it safe to do so. We are not seeing the same community spread occurring in our athletic programs. The department is following a strict set of testing protocols mandated by the Big 12 that reveals a different set of realities for Intercollegiate Athletics. As a reminder, there will be no fans or tailgating at this game. The only fan presence will be family members of our players and staff.

“I am also aware there is much community frustration. I understand your perspective, and am frustrated, too. While some may argue that community spread was inevitable with students returning to Morgantown, I do not believe that to be true. If the safety protocols had been followed and large gatherings had not been held by students with reckless disregard of their fellow students and community members, we may not be in this situation.

“Between July 27 and Aug. 23, the University completed 19,629 COVID-19 tests for students with 148 positive results. That equates to a .75% positivity rate, considerably lower than the 5 to 7 percent anticipated. The last few days we have been seeing a disturbing upward trend, due in part, to large, off-campus indoor gatherings where selfish decisions were made which have adversely affected the entire campus community. The University is resolved that those individuals who are identified in such cases will be charged and dealt with in the appropriate manner. We have already placed 29 students on interim suspension this weekend. We will not hesitate to follow through on every student who continues to disregard the guidelines.

“And to that point, let me be very clear with our students: Regardless of what you may believe concerning COVID-19, you are a resident of Morgantown and a student at West Virginia University. The expectation is that you will abide by the guidelines and protocols set forth by the University, city and state. We have made that abundantly clear from the beginning. It is your responsibility as someone who lives in this community and is enrolled at this University. If you do not feel you can meet those expectations, you should not be in this community or at our University.

“I also want to emphasize this move to online learning is temporary. If we can reverse the trends and see our numbers improve, we will return to on-campus learning on Monday, Sept. 28. I know how valuable the in-classroom experience is to our students, and we will continue to share information with you as we move forward.

“In the meantime, please follow the guidelines below. Limit your travel in Morgantown and stay in town unless it is an emergency. Wear your masks around anyone and everyone outside of those with whom you live. Physical distance at least 6 feet and wash your hands properly and frequently. If you feel ill, you should call your doctor or WVU Medicine Student Health at (304) 285-7200.”