BUCKHANNON — As new COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the United States and especially Upshur County, West Virginia Wesleyan College administrators say they are going one step further to keep students “safe” during the ongoing pandemic.
Although WVWC’s arrival to campus plan notes the college is not requiring vaccinations for their students, they are charging a substantial $750 fee to any student who remains unvaccinated. According to administrators, the fee will cover expenses that come with testing and other resources to keep students safe. Unvaccinated students will also be required to wear masks in all indoor venues, get tested weekly, and implement social distancing. It has been reported by WVWC, that out of the approximate 1,500 students and several staff members, 90% of faculty and staff, in addition to a large portion of students, have already been vaccinated.
On top of the “vaccination fee” a $250 fine will also be implemented to any student who receives a positive COVID-19 test result and is unable to leave campus. This fine will reportedly be used to cover costs incurred from quarantine expenses while on campus. Students will be required to show proof of vaccination by September 7 or be charged the non-refundable $750 fee, according to the college’s policy.
In their arrival on campus update, WVWC stated, “While the College is not mandating the COVID-19 vaccine at this time, WVWC will be reviewing this decision once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) formally approves the COVID-19 vaccines for use beyond the current emergency use status. The College’s review and decision regarding a possible vaccination mandate would follow immediately.”
Now, some students are reportedly facing difficult decisions regarding their “home among the hills.” One student who wished to remain anonymous told The Record Delta Friday evening, “Even students that are vaccinated see it as a little ridiculous. Most people agree that students need to get vaccinated, but the way they’ve done it seems a little like price gauging and is placing a financial burden on students, especially those who don’t feel safe getting the vaccine.” Although the student couldn’t confirm the validity of the rumors, some friends had reportedly mentioned they would not be returning to WVWC or would prefer going elsewhere over the college’s decision.
Another student who requested anonymity is happy about the decision. The student explained, “This helps to ensure the safety of the entire campus–students, faculty, etc.–whilst also allowing those who don’t wish to vaccinate the option in doing so, even if they have to pay.” When asked whether they thought this decision will harm or benefit the college, the student responded, “It can help, or hurt. The more people who have vaccine-negative connotations will see this as an infringement of rights, while those who are vaccine-positive will see it as a step in the right direction. That said, not all publicity is good publicity, no matter what people say. So, I hope it ends up being good.”
Time will tell regarding the impact this decision will have on WVWC. Watch for future editions of The Record Delta for developing details on this story.