West Virginia University is temporarily revising its masking guidelines. Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 18, and for the next 30 days, masks will be required for all those in classrooms, teaching and research labs on all campuses - regardless of vaccination status.
In line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University continues to strongly encourage all students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear masks in all other indoor areas of campus.
WVU is making this shift based on a variety of factors, including increasing evidence that a booster may be needed as immunity provided by vaccines is waning over time. And importantly, many faculty, staff and students have not yet submitted a vaccine verification or negative COVID-19 test result. Many have also failed to complete the required COVID-19 education module.
Currently, vaccination verification rates across the WVU system are as follows:
- Morgantown Staff/Faculty –67.49%
- Morgantown Students – 68.43%
- Keyser Staff/Faculty –62.56%
- Keyser Students –34.38%
- Beckley Staff/Faculty – 70.75%
- Beckley Students –42.60%
More than 10,000 students, faculty and staff who have not verified that they are vaccinated are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result by Friday, Aug. 20. To date, fewer than 15% of those unverified students, faculty and staff have done so. Also, approximately 8,000 students, faculty and staff have not completed the required COVID-19 education module. The deadline to do so is today, Aug. 17.
The University has not seen an adequate progression of vaccination verification to feel confident it would reach 80% by Sept. 1 and has chosen to move forward with additional safety measures on campus.
“We have always stated that our highest priority is to offer a fully in-person, on-campus academic and student experience this fall,” said Maryanne Reed, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Based on the data we have; the additional temporary measure of masking will provide an extra layer of protection for the academic settings.”
The University strongly encourages everyone to follow the CDC recommendations of wearing a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status. It is also encouraging that virtual options be offered for all meetings and gatherings for those who prefer not to attend in person.
University encourages vaccination
COVID-19 cases within West Virginia have increased in recent days. As of today, Aug. 17, there were 7,017 active COVID-19 cases in West Virginia, and the daily cumulative percent positivity is now at 5%.
These numbers, as well as information regarding the delta variant, provided additional data to change course.
“This variant is much more infectious than we have seen with other strains of COVID-19,” said Dr. Jeffrey Coben, dean of the School of Public Health and associate vice president for Health Affairs. “The delta variant is highly contagious, and we know it is affecting younger patients more intensely and at higher rates.”
WVU Medicine recently updated masking guidance for all employees who work at non-clinical, administrative sites, including the Health Sciences campuses in Morgantown, Eastern and Charleston. Masks are required in all patient care clinics including those located in the Health Sciences building.
Health experts agree that properly fitted, layered masks are a necessary and effective extra layer of protection, but that a COVID-19 vaccination is still the single-most important and successful tool available.
All employees and students are required to take the new COVID-19 educational module by the end of day Aug. 17.
At this time, vaccinations are not required for WVU students and employees. However, the University will reevaluate vaccination requirements upon full FDA approval.
Those who have yet to be vaccinated, but would like to be, can find available vaccination appointments at http://vaccines.gov. Vaccines continue to be readily available across the country.
Vaccine sites in Keyser include:
- CVS Pharmacy, 45 South Mineral Street, (304) 788-3443
- Med-A-Save Pharmacy, 818 South Mineral Street, (304) 788-6010
- Walgreens Pharmacy, 839 South Mineral Street, (304) 788-5931
- Walmart Pharmacy, Located in the Walmart Supercenter, 148 US Route 220, (304) 788-8170
All students, faculty and staff must verify their vaccine status at http://myhousing.wvu.edu.This video explains the steps and information needed to complete verification. Students, faculty and staff can still verify their vaccines throughout the fall semester if they choose to be vaccinated at a later date.
Those who received the vaccine from a WVU or WVU Medicine vaccine clinic are still responsible for verifying their vaccine status.
Students, faculty and staff who have verified to WVU that they have been vaccinated will not be required to undergo COVID-19 testing at the beginning of the semester.
Further, those who have verified their vaccination status will be exempted from random sample testing throughout the semester.
Students, faculty or staff who believe they are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons may apply for an exemption and accommodation. Employees can fill out a modification request or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Students should contact Accessibility Services at 304-293-6700 or email@example.com.
COVID-19 Testing at Potomac State College
All students, faculty and staff who will be on campus this fall who are not fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and/or did not verify their vaccinations with the University by Aug. 1, are required to submit a valid negative COVID-19 test result. Students and employees who fail to comply with COVID-19 testing requirements may be subject to discipline in accordance with the University’s policies and procedures.
Potomac State College will only accept live-virus reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results dated after Aug. 1. Rapid antigen tests results will not be accepted.
Test results from an individual’s local testing provider — from both within and outside of West Virginia — will be accepted as long as they meet the above criteria. The local Mineral County Health Department is offering the community free COVID-19 testing as follows:
Mondays and Fridays
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Mineral County Health Department
541 Harley O. Staggers Drive
Keyser WV 26726
Please note: Starting Monday, Aug. 23, the Mineral County Health Department will move its community free COVID-19 testing clinics on Mondays to Potomac State College in the Church-McKee Arts Center parking lot from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Community testing through the Mineral County Health Department is open to WVU Potomac State College students, employees and residents of Mineral County. Individuals who wish to be tested must bring identification (a driver's license or proof of address) to the testing site. Face masks and physical distancing are required.
A printed copy of a negative test result must be delivered to a WVU Potomac State College health care professional within 48 hours of when the individual arrives on campus at the following drop-off location:
Student Health Center
Saturday, Aug. 14 through Friday, Aug. 20
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
After Aug. 20, the Student Health Center will be open:
Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays – 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Wednesdays and Thursdays – 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
You will be asked to provide your student and/or employee ID or identification number, so be sure to have them readily available when you arrive at the Student Health Center. This is how you can access your number if you do not know it: WVUID Lookup.
Please note: Individuals who have been on campus throughout the summer are also required to deliver a printed copy of a negative test result to the Student Health Center within the timeframe listed above.
Additionally, faculty, staff and students who have not verified that they are vaccinated must:
- Comply with random sample testing until they become fully vaccinated.
- Quarantine for at least 14 days following close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.
- Obtain testing if symptoms develop.
- Quarantine for five days following out-of-state travel.
- Wear a mask indoors and when outdoors and around others.
Individuals, including those who are fully vaccinated, who are close contacts of someone who has tested positive, will need to be tested, according to new CDC guidelines. Those guidelines also require that vaccinated individuals who are exposed to the virus wear a mask until a negative test at 3-5 days, or 14 days if untested. If vaccinated individuals test positive, they must follow the 10-day isolation guidelines.
Please Note: Students, faculty and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days will not need to provide a test result to Potomac State College. However, these individuals must contact WVU Shared Services at 304-293-6006 and provide proof of their positive result to be exempted from testing.
Anyone with a positive test result immediately should begin isolation and notify WVU Shared Services at 304-293-6006. Please identify yourself as a Potomac State College student or employee. Additional guidance for what to do if you test positive or are exposed to someone who tests positive is available on the Return to Campus website.
WVU will resume weekly COVID-19 updates through a dashboard on the Return to Campus website, which will feature testing information as well as vaccination rates. Additional information will be shared in the coming days.
WVU Health Sciences has updated the coronavirus.wvu.edu website to reflect the most up-to-date information on vaccines and the Delta variant.