Dear WVU Potomac State College Campus Community:
Our faculty and staff have been busy planning for the spring semester and are eager to welcome students back to campus. The spring semester begins on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
The circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic remain fluid and ever-changing even with the onset of the vaccine. There will be times that the College will ask for your patience and flexibility. Our planning process has been, and will continue to be, dynamic.
Yet there remains one constant in all the College’s efforts: WVU Potomac State College is committed to providing a well-rounded, diverse and meaningful experience for all students.
Practicing Safe COVID-19 Protocol
Across the country, COVID-19 is spreading faster than ever before. In West Virginia, COVID-19 cases have continued to increase since students left for winter break. As of Sunday (Jan. 10), the state has 101,212 COVID-19 cases.
WVU health experts, including West Virginia COVID-19 Czar and Vice President for Health Sciences Dr. Clay Marsh, have cautioned that the worst rise in cases has yet to come and may happen later this month. With that, all employees and students should head into the spring semester with safety at the forefront. The University believes its safety protocols, if abided by correctly, will help to keep the campus communities safe and allow students to return and continue their education successfully this spring.
This is time for employees and students to recommit to the important safety measures implemented this past fall that will continue this semester. They are:
- Wear a mask/face covering on and off campus. They are required on campus at all times - indoors and outdoors - unless in a private office/vehicle/residence hall room or while eating.
- Practice safe physical distancing on- and off-campus of six feet. Data shows the majority of COVID-19 spread in the fall took place off campus, so it’s important to practice physical distancing when away from campus, as well.
- Practice good hand and cough hygiene; wash hands for at least 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer as needed. Cover coughs, even while wearing a mask.
- Monitor symptoms daily. For personal safety and the safety of others, don’t ignore symptoms of COVID-19; those with any symptoms of COVID-19 should not report to campus for work or class. Potomac State College students should call the Student Health Center at 304-788-6913. Employees should contact their primary care physician or WVU Medicine’s COVID-19 phone number at 304-598-6000 (Option 4).
- If requested, take a COVID-19 test as part of baseline and ongoing testing procedures.
- Report positive COVID-19 test results to the College by securely providing documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org if you are a student and to email@example.com if you are an employee.
All these measures help to slow the spread of COVID-19, which is more important now than it has ever been. While local hospitals are effectively managing COVID-19 cases, examples from across the country illustrate that a potential surge in capacity could be a possibility. Students, faculty and staff must continue to take the pandemic seriously.
Please report anyone not following guidelines on the Potomac State College campus here.
Return to campus testing
To start the semester safely, all students and employees who will be on campus at any point are required to be tested for COVID-19 by Saturday, Jan. 16. Testing is being conducted this week, Jan. 11-15. Those who have not yet scheduled a test may do so at http://myhousing.wvu.edu but limited times are available.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days, you are EXEMPT from return-to-campus this spring semester. If your positive test results were not previously reported to the College, you will need to securely provide documentation to WVU Medical Management at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are an employee or to email@example.com if you are a student. Those who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 are still required to complete COVID-19 testing.
Results are expected to be available within three days of testing. Unlike the fall semester, students must receive a negative test result before classes start on Jan. 19 or they will not be allowed into the classroom for instruction. Only those who receive negative results can be on campus. For students in the residence halls, standard isolation/quarantine procedures will apply, which is provided below in this information. Residence hall students awaiting their results will continue to self-quarantine in their dorm until they receive a negative test result. Students will need to inform their instructors that they are awaiting test results.
COVID-19 module for new, incoming students
New students starting at Potomac State College this spring are required to take the COVID-19 education module by Saturday, Jan. 16. Those who are returning this spring do not need to retake the module. Incoming students should be receiving an invitation to complete the module to their MIX email account. If they did not receive that email, they can follow the links below.
To sign up for their Get Inclusive account: https://app.getinclusive.com/users/westvu-214/saml/sign_in
To register for the COVID module: https://app.getinclusive.com/register_course?code=COVID-19-LO-721
If folks have issues with their modules, they can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please check junk and spam folders for expected emails that have not been received.
Each week, at least 10% of students who will be on campus will be asked to be tested for COVID-19 as part of the College’s ongoing testing plan. Some students and employees may be asked to test more frequently due to their involvement in certain majors, programs, residence halls, sports teams, etc. Students who have been selected at random to be tested will receive an email from the Student Experience Office with a link to SignUpGenius. Employees who have been selected at random will receive an email from Ashley Morgan, the College’s Human Resources (HR) Partner.
Ongoing testing is conducted to assess the general health of the community and if spread of COVID-19 exists. Combined with other preventive safety measures, testing provides critical data to help inform the College of our overall campus safety.
In addition, the Mineral County Health Department will offer community testing opportunities in which the Potomac State College community can participate. Visit the MCHD website for more information.
College employees working in hybrid or in-person capacities will continue to have the option to receive a COVID-19 test weekly if desired throughout the spring semester. Tests may be scheduled by contacting Ashley Morgan, the College’s HR Partner, at email@example.com.
The semester will begin on Tuesday, Jan. 19. As announced late last year, West Virginia University has made the following changes to the spring academic calendar:
- In addition to Thursday, Feb. 11 and Wednesday, March 3, a third non-instructional day is now scheduled for Tuesday, March 2.
- There is now a "prep day" on Monday, May 3, which was originally the first day of final exam week.
- Final exams will now start a day later on Tuesday, May 4 and continue through the morning of Saturday, May 8.
These calendar changes are in effect for all WVU campuses with the exception of some Health Sciences programs and other professional programs due to clinical rotation requirements, accreditation standards and other concerns. At the start of the spring semester, students should contact their program coordinators or instructors for more information.
Faculty and students should note that these changes leave no excess instructional days in the calendar. If the College should have to close campus due to weather or another reason, instruction will be required to continue through remote learning.
For the spring semester, there will again be a mix of in-person, hybrid and online-only classes. A total of 30% of the registered seats are now in online sections, and 70% are in in-person sections.
Potomac State College offers resources such as tutoring and workshops to help students be academically successful.
- The Academic Success Center staff continues to be committed to supporting our students through this challenging time. Tutors and students will be meeting face-to- face by appointment only and through Zoom, email, and phone calls. To provide physical distancing, only three tutors and three students will be in the facility at a time. If students had previously been working with a tutor, they can contact them directly to make arrangements for a meeting. If students need to make new appointments or have general questions, they can contact Jennifer Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-788-7144.
- The Mary F. Shipper Library will be open for in-person services starting January 19. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The library staff has created plenty of study nooks spread throughout the library to ensure safe, physical distancing for everyone. Librarians will be on staff and ready to assist students face-to-face or remotely by calling 304-788-6901.
- More than 50 on-demand workshops (Student Lingo) are available 24/7 and cover important topics such as exam preparation, taking tests online, and staying motivated in online learning. For more information visit https://studentsuccess.wvu.edu/services/seminars.
As with the fall semester, the College will implement a traditional grading scale this spring and will not offer a high pass/pass/fail option. Students who may wish to pursue advanced education beyond college could be disadvantaged by having more than one pass/fail semester on their undergraduate transcript. The College knows that many academic admissions committees carefully scrutinize pass/fail grades on an applicant’s transcript.
After reviewing current travel bans and global infrastructures, such as healthcare and transportation systems, WVU has decided that faculty-led study abroad programs will not run this summer. Faculty-led programs tend to be more mobile, with participants traveling to multiple sites and cities, and require significant advance planning. Continued uncertainty around international travel serves as a significant obstacle to such planning. Students and academic advisers who have questions about whether a long-term placement is feasible should contact the Office of Global Affairs.
Isolation and quarantine procedures
Potomac State College’s testing program will include the use of two types of diagnostic tests during the spring semester:
- The RT-PCR test detects the virus’s genetic material – the RNA – and is sensitive enough to need only a small amount. PCR tests can take from 24-72 hours to provide results and are regarded as the gold standard testing method.
- Rapid antigen tests detect specific proteins from the virus and are particularly useful for rapidly identifying a person who is at or near peak infection. Generally, antigen tests provide faster results but can be less accurate asymptomatic screenings.
Using a combination of the two types of tests will help us identify positive cases quickly and slow the spread of COVID-19.
The University has made slight modifications to isolation and quarantine procedures to allow for more rapid identification and separation of positive individuals. Rapid antigen tests (same-day results) may be used on those who develop symptoms of COVID-19. If that test is positive, the person will be placed into isolation and will receive a RT-PCR test, which will confirm if a person has COVID-19.
As with the fall semester, students living in the residence halls who have COVID-19 will be isolated in Davis Hall.
Those asked to quarantine for 14 days will have the opportunity to shorten their quarantine time to 10 days if they have no symptoms during the 10-day period, receive a negative RT-PCR test result on day 6-7 and follow all safety measures - including daily symptom monitoring - through day 14.
Potomac State College began administering COVID-19 vaccines to its most at-risk employees one week ago and continues to do so. At this point, Potomac State College has inoculated 11 employees. It’s important to have patience and to continue to follow COVID-19 safety measures to help protect yourself and others who may wait longer for vaccine availability.
WVU will distribute vaccine doses based on state guidelines developed by the West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force. Those recommendations state that age is the primary determinant of risk for contracting and dying from the COVID-19 virus; those aged 65 and older are receiving the vaccines as it becomes available. The University will continue to provide allotted doses of the vaccine as it is distributed and will communicate as additional groups are eligible starting with those 50 years old and older this week
WVU will not require the vaccine at this time for students or employees; however, all within the WVU community are encouraged to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
Assuming the College receives sufficient supplies of vaccines this semester, students should also have the opportunity to receive the vaccine. As WVU is provided with additional guidance from the West Virginia Joint Interagency Task Force, the University will provide instructions on how students can show interest in being vaccinated. Until then, students should continue to monitor your email and contact their primary care physician for possible allocations that may be offered.
As a reminder, it’s important that all employees and students get an influenza vaccination. Contact the Student Health Center at 304-788-6913 to schedule an appointment.
WVU will send out COVID-19 vaccine interest forms via email from COVIDvaccine@mail.wvu.edu to those in a specific age range as additional doses are available. Once completed, follow-up instructions will be sent via email from COVIDvaccine@mail.wvu.edu with a second email from email@example.com with a link to register on how to schedule a vaccination appointment through the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) when a dosage is available. All WVU Potomac State College students and employees will be vaccinated on campus. Employees who have completed the COVID-19 vaccine survey but have yet to hear more will receive instructions as doses become available.
The College has updated its COVID-19 dashboard with the number of vaccine doses administered each week, as well.
For questions about vaccinations, email COVIDvaccine@mail.wvu.edu.
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine at https://wvumedicine.org/news/article/wvu-medicine-officials-answer-frequently-asked-questions-aboutcovid-vaccine/.
Daily wellness survey
Unlike the fall semester, the daily wellness survey will not be required for employees and students this spring. However, select groups (e.g., some Health Sciences programs) may continue to complete it as determined by those programs. Students and employees will receive communications from individual departments/units if they will continue to require completion of the survey.
Without this daily reminder to monitor symptoms, it’s important that students and employees continue to self-monitor and alert their primary care physician or the Student Health Center if COVID-19 symptoms surface.
Taking good care of yourself is important, and you’ll have many (virtual and in-person) options to choose from this spring. More information about the College’s Student Health Center, Psychological Counseling Services and other local health options are available on the website under Student Experience.
The Recreation Center will remain closed to begin the semester; however, after all initial COVID-19 return-to-campus testing has been completed, College administrators will reevaluate the situation. More information will be forthcoming.
WVU will continue the Refresh activities series this semester. Activities will begin the week of Jan. 18 and will mainly be virtual for the safety of all students. The series will include:
- baking classes with New York Times best-selling author Dorie Greenspan
- cooking classes with Ashley Moore from America’s Test Kitchen and Chef Lish Steiling of the Taste Curators
- crafting classes with the Crafty Lumberjacks
- skincare and glam-up classes with Julie Morgan, makeup artist to the stars
- group fitness classes and more
In addition, there will be ongoing virtual and in-person activities throughout the semester. Please refer to the activities calendar for future updates.
The campus community is invited to join a Return to Campus Conversation on Thursday, Jan. 14, from 10-11:30 a.m. to hear from WVU administrators and public health experts and ask them questions.
COVID-19 questions can be submitted, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Visit https://www.wvu.edu/return-to-campus for the latest information, including COVID-19 dashboards, which are updated generally on weekdays.