WVU believes irresponsible students are a small percentage of the total.
Now that WVU students are back, we’ll soon know: Are we going to see a spike in COVID numbers because of it?
The house parties we feared do, indeed happen. The university has placed 17 students on probation for violations of COVID-19 rules, and it’s investigating another 15. One multiple violator is up for possible expulsion.
But while Dean of Students Corey Farris doesn’t excuse it, he feels pretty confident things are under control. The scheduled, staggered appointments for move-in meant some students had days of downtime before classes started on August 26, he points out. “Now that classes are starting, that will start to take up their time, so I think it will get better.”
Reports of student noncompliance with the university’s distancing, mask, and other COVID rules are investigated by WVU’s Office of Student Conduct. “Some of those initial kinds of reports we’ve had where it’s five, six, seven students hanging out on a porch not physically distancing, in those cases we give them a good warning, put them on probation, and have them complete educational information about the rules,” Farris says. Multiple or flagrant violations lead to possible suspension or expulsion.
As student returns go, this one has not been bad, in Morgantown Interim Chief of Police Eric Powell’s experience. “We’ve responded to complaints of loud parties,” he says. “If we believe there’s a violation of WVU policy, we’ll notify them and let them respond, too. But I’d say it’s probably been a little calmer than usual so far.”
Mon County’s daily new COVID case numbers have hovered around 10 in August, far better than in July. If the numbers do spike, Farris says, the university, city, and county would weigh any new restrictions carefully and would factor hospitalization, ICU, and ventilator rates into consideration of shut-down.
Farris believes most students are motivated to be responsible. “The students told us loud and clear, ‘We want to be on campus,’” he says. “They’ve seen what’s happened at schools across the country where they’ve had to abruptly stop things, and I don’t think our students want that—they’re seeing, ‘Well, this is up to me.’”
The university takes reports of violations from the community. But be aware: many students live together in group situations, so a few students together without masks might just be part of the same quarantine bubble. Anyone who does see a violation of distancing or mask rules can report it through WVU’s online reporting page, a call to University Police at 304.293.COPS, or the free LiveSafe app.