The University recognizes that the decision to limit campus visitation and move to an online learning model will create a hardship for some students, faculty and staff, and might challenge the quality of instruction in some classes. However, the decision is judged essential toward the promotion of public health and is in keeping with prevailing state and national trends.
To better prepare our WVU Parkersburg family for this time of change, we are providing you with all the resources you need to be successful in your educational and professional career. Whether you are a new or returning student, we will help you on your path to a great future.
Campus Contact Information
|Counseling & Disability Servicesfirstname.lastname@example.org
|Veterans Resource Centeremail@example.com
|Workforce & Economic Developmentfirstname.lastname@example.org
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates
On April 9, the Secretary of Education for the U.S. Department of Education notified us that as part of the CARES Act (due to the coronavirus pandemic) we would be receiving $876,544 to disburse directly to eligible students in the form of cash grants. We decided to disburse some of those funds to every eligible student, and then give students who expressed their needs by filling out an application some additional funds. Our CARES grant application was posted online on Friday, April 24 and was taken down on Friday, May 8.
On Friday, May 8, after the application closed at 4:00 p.m., eligibility for all students was verified and grants were processed for 1,048 eligible students totaling $876,544. Our total grant allocation has now been awarded to eligible students. The refunds are being processed now and will be sent out via the BankMobile refund method that you chose earlier in the semester (direct deposit, BankMobile VIBE deposit, or paper check in the mail). The individual grant award amounts were determined by the administration of West Virginia University at Parkersburg based on the belief that all students attending classes on our Parkersburg and Ripley campus were in some way financially impacted by the disruption of switching to 100% online courses and the closing of our facilities. All eligible students received a base amount of $650, and students who filled out the application and had additional expenses received additional funds above the $650 base amount.
We determined that you are eligible for $(amount) in CARES Emergency Grant funds. Your CARES funds will be released to you regardless of whether you owe any balance to WVUP for current or future classes. If you do not need your grant funds for other expenses, and want them applied to a balance, you will need to contact the Business Office after you receive your grant funds and make a payment arrangement. You are not required to use this grant to pay a balance at WVUP though – it is intended for other expenses that you have.
If you have questions about your CARES Emergency Grant, please contact the WVUP Financial Aid Office at email@example.com.
If you want to check which refund method you chose with BankMobile, please reach out to BankMobile, or contact the WVUP Business Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you received any funds from WVUP in the Spring 2020 semester, your CARES funds will come to you the same way. The refunds will take a short amount of time to process, but we anticipate all direct deposit students will receive their funds by Friday, May 15. Please do not check the status of your refund with the Business Office before Monday, May 18, 2020.
WVUP Financial Aid Office
Center for Student Services
The Riverhawk Food Pantry will be offering a limited supply of emergency supplemental food bags to students, staff and faculty on Monday, March 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in room 0130 on the Parkersburg campus and at the Jackson County Center administration building. Food bags will be limited to one bag per person and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
For those at home without internet access, WVUP has made Wifi available for students, faculty, and staff. Currently, on the main campus, Wifi is available in the WED parking lot and the parking spots in front of the main entrance near the President’s Office. If additional Wifi areas become available, WVUP IT will update the community.
Please remember to fully charge your devices before coming, as electric is not available on-site. Social distancing is still enforced, so please use the Wifi from the comfort of your vehicle.
At this time, WVU Parkersburg has suspended all campus events and visitations through May 4, 2020. All campus tours, visits from the public and events after this date may be unaffected, but the institution will provide updates as necessary. If you are an outside vendor renting a WVU Parkersburg campus space, you will be electronically notified of your event cancelation.
Canceled Events & Visitations
• Breakthrough Campus Ministries Bible Study Meetings
• Beginner American Sign Language – Jackson County Community Education Class
• Beginner Beekeeping Community Education Class
• Flash Photography Community Education Class
• Women Are People Readers Theater Auditions
• Spirit Team Meetings
• Rotaract Club Meeting
• DIY Day
• Home City Ice Hiring Table
• Family Drive-In Movie
• Poetry Readings | National Poetry Month
• Community Easter Egg Hunt
• Grad Fair
• Thirty-One Stuffed Bag Bingo
• Early College Recognition Ceremony
Postponed Events & Visitations
• Constellium Program Signing Ceremony
• The May 2020 Commencement Ceremony is rescheduled for Saturday, August 8, 2020.
• The HESI A2 Entrance Exam for Fall 2020 Admission into Nursing and Surgical Technology programs is rescheduled for April 25, 2020, from 12:30-4:30 p.m. The HESI A2 will be given and proctored through the Zoom app. Individuals taking the exam will need to download the Zoom app by visiting zoom.us. Please call the Business Office at 304.424.8223 to pay the $45 exam fee, then call the Nursing & Health Sciences office at 304.424.8300 to register for the exam. Individuals will need to provide their current phone number and email. The deadline to register is Thursday, April 23. Further instruction regarding the exam will follow registration.
Not Currently Affected
At WVU Parkersburg, we are proud of our Riverhawks and their accomplishments, and we don’t want to miss the opportunity to host events celebrating and honoring our students and graduates. At this time, the college is planning to hold the following events. However, as circumstances regarding public health evolve, there is the possibility that these events will be postponed. WVU Parkersburg will communicate such changes immediately. We advise parents and students to monitor college communications for updates.
• Kids’ College (June 8-12; 15-18 and 22-25)
Greetings, WVU Parkersburg Riverhawks!
While we’ve moved online, we are still HERE for YOU and will continue to provide opportunities for Student Engagement Activities. Every Monday, you will receive a list of daily challenges, activities, wellness tips and more to help keep you on track and active while we work through this difficult time. Also, be sure to post a pic of you completing these daily challenges and activities, tagging @WVUParkersburgStudentActivities (Facebook) and @riverhawks_sa (Instagram). If you have any questions, please reach out to email@example.com.
Are you feeling stressed out and need someone outside of the family to talk with? Do you need to vent out loud to someone for a few minutes?
During this time of higher anxiety, resulting from circumstances related to the COVID-19 crisis (social distancing, isolation and sometimes general feelings of frustration and possibly fear), you may find some comfort in talking. If so, know that you can call Kurt Klettner, Student Support Services executive director, at any time, including evenings and weekends, until this crisis is behind us.
We are in this together, and together we will get through this crisis.
Beginning Monday, March 23, the physical plant of the WVU Parkersburg library will be closed until further notice due to the medical emergency. Our electronic resources of periodicals, ebooks, music and other tools will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Library staff members are available to provide assistance via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, the library’s Facebook page, and by telephone at 304-424-8260. We will also schedule times when a staff member will be at the library so patrons may sign out paper books.
Please contact Stephen Hupp, Library Director, at email@example.com for additional information.
Staying true to our mission of supporting student success, the WVU Parkersburg Bookstore is excited to announce it has joined with VitalSource to provide free access to available digital textbooks through the remainder of the Spring 2020 term. VitalSource describes themself as “a program designed to support students and instructors who may have lost access to course materials due to a campus moving to distance learning to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This program is made possible by the leading publishers and resellers in the US Higher Education. The program offers free access to tens of thousands of eBooks through May 25, 2020 to students and instructors at impacted 2 and 4-year non-profit institutions in the US.”
To get started, students should visit bookshelf.vitalsource.com and create a Bookshelf account with their WVUP email address.
I hope that your week is off to the best start possible under the circumstances, and I marvel at the many examples of excellent online learning which are being reported to me, both by your faculty members and other students. While I know that there are many challenges brought on by this format, I continue to thank you for your persistence and your creativity. Based on prevailing national and state trends and in keeping with counsel, I have determined that we will not return to any face-to-face instruction for the spring 2020 semester. All courses will need to be completed virtually. We had hoped to return to face-to-face instruction, especially in our most hands-on programs such as welding, for example, but this is no longer medically responsible based on the trajectory of the virus. We realize this will require awarding grades of “Incomplete” to some students, although I have asked faculty members to find the best available alternatives to allow most students to finish your courses on time, saving Incompletes for the most extreme cases.
Faculty members and the administration will work with students to finish all Incompletes and record permanent grades as quickly as possible, perhaps even during the summer months if the pandemic subsides. Under no circumstances based on decisions made by the university should you lose any credit for work done this semester, as long as you complete any Incompletes you receive.
We have also extended the Withdrawal date to April 30. We made the process a bit more involved, feeling that students need to have the flexibility to withdraw if you anticipate a poor grade, but that in most cases you should not withdraw otherwise and certainly not without significant faculty or advisor consultation.The goal here is to give you the maximum flexibility possible while also hoping that you will complete your semester and not lose any credit for the significant work you have done. The Office of the Provost or your advisor can provide more detailed information on this process.
You have perhaps heard about the federal CARES stimulus funds, and I want you to know that the University expects significant new funding through this program, 50 percent of those funds passing quickly through directly to current credential-seeking students and 50 percent retained by the University to provide across-the-board services to students. WVU Parkersburg has our process fully developed and is just waiting for federal and state approval to begin the process of getting these funds to you as quickly as possible.
Further, we will preserve the summer 2020 schedule as scheduled, meaning that we do not plan to change the dates or offerings, but all course offerings should now be planned for online delivery. In other words, we do not plan for face-to-face summer school this year. The Provost and I will evaluate on a case-by-case basis, and depending on the trajectory of the pandemic, the possibility that limited, social-distanced face-to-face instruction might occur during the summer to clear up Incompletes from spring 2020 and in our most hands-on programs only, and only if it seems medically responsible based on the trajectory of the virus.
It is also possible that the Provost might modify the scheduled dates for summer courses in a very few cases, also determined case-by-case. The hope is that there can be extremely limited face-to-face teaching done this summer, but I cannot commit definitely to that option until closer to time. No exceptions will be made for courses which we judge can be taught online.
At this time, we sincerely hope and anticipate that we will return to face-to-face instruction for fall 2020, but even that is subject to change. You will be updated as soon as more information is available, but such decisions must be made closer to time. Hopefully, we will all be back together under more normal circumstances when the fall semester arrives.
I do not yet have a projection about when the physical plant of our campuses will be reopened or when or how we will transition back into a face-to-face working environment. I would like for it to happen as soon as it is medically sound, but not a moment before, and as in most matters, you may anticipate that I will err on the side of caution. We will, however, get the computer labs reopened for students at the earliest possible, medically-sound moment. All of our business functions remain fully functional online, including admissions, registration, advising, financial aid, and the business office. New applicants for summer and fall are both up at this time, so we anticipate a robust new class of students will be joining you in the fall 2020.
While I know that many inconveniences have been created by this challenge and while I regret them, my first and most solemn responsibility remains to preserve the health and safety of our students and those who serve them. This will continue to be the standard by which I make hard decisions.
Please let me know if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions, and once again, please know that I truly thank you for all that you are doing to keep yourselves, your families, and your communities safe while continuing your education. I hope that you and your loved ones will be safe and content during this time of challenge. Knowing that as a nation we will have much to grieve during and after it, there will also come a season of celebration and joy again. I am thankful to be beside you during all of these seasons.
Good morning, Riverhawks,
I write to you from the remote president’s office which is my dining table at home, attended not by Brady and Billie as usual, and as I take for granted, but attended by two poodles who seem still confused, but generally pleased that David and I are constantly home with them.
When this period of social distancing passes, and it will pass eventually, they will have to get used to a “new normal” which for them will mean going back to long periods without their human companions. Indeed, we will all have to get used to a new normal, and that prospect, if we think about it deeply, is both frightening and exciting, right now more the former than the latter since it is still so hard to define and clearly will be built on a foundation of significant loss.
I was talking to one of our colleagues this morning who reminded me that “normalcy” is more than just a vocabulary word. It’s a state of being that we work hard to achieve over time and then usually take for granted until something like COVID-19 comes along and redefines it forever. In fact, circumstances well beyond our control may end up rewriting that definition, but if I know us, we will be as proactive and positive as we can possibly be in putting our stamp on the future.
Speaking of the future, in the near term I have accepted the reality that we will not be able to hold May 2020 Commencement, so I am officially announcing that it has been postponed. I have waited longer than most college presidents to make this decision because I realize, based on feedback from our students and my own experience, that Commencement is the most important and cherished time of the year for our graduates and their families. It’s the culmination of a season of hard work and sacrifice by many people, and since students and our community as a whole have had so much taken from us already, I held onto hope as long as possible. Since President Trump has extended social distancing through the end of April with the likelihood it might extend even further, there is no responsible way for us to gather for this event in May.
WVU Parkersburg’s Spring 2020 Commencement is being postponed until Saturday, August 8, 2020. At present, nothing except the date will change. The postponed ceremony will be designed to be a moment of even greater celebration for our graduates and their families. A virtual Commencement was considered which would have allowed us to celebrate at the usual time, but was judged an insufficient way for us to fully observe this joyful milestone in the lives of our graduates. Other administrative offices will be posting details regarding commencement in the near future. Please hold the date August 8 for our postponed spring Commencement.
It was our original goal that we return to face-to-face instruction on April 20. Based on the extended national social distancing policy, obviously that goal can no longer be met until May 4 at the earliest. We will currently hope to resume face-to-face instruction for one or two weeks in early May so that our labs and more hands-on programs can finish the semester with fuller teaching and learning options. If the social distancing guidelines are extended, we will revise our plans and make further announcements. Regardless, we expect to finish this semester’s academic instruction in one format or another and to proceed fully with summer and fall instruction.
I have the beginning of some good news to share with the community. The federal COVID-19 Stimulus Package approved by the U.S. Congress and President Trump includes significant funding for higher education. While we do not yet know all of the details or precisely how much funding WVU Parkersburg will receive, we do know that we will soon receive significant new and unexpected revenue to provide directly to our students for hardship relief and to help the University as a whole move forward from any financial losses incurred during the pandemic. As always, as we learn more, we will be forthcoming and transparent with the community about what this means for us, but we know now that it means help is coming to colleges across the nation and to those they serve.
Finally, I want to thank the faculty and students for the challenging adaptations you are all making in the ways you are learning and teaching. I am hearing many success stories from across the University and some challenges, but so far with every challenge I am also hearing a solution. I am especially proud of our Instructional Innovation and IT teams for the amazing work they have done to prepare us for this transition and to support us during it. Further, I want to thank the staff equally for the innovative ways you have found to allow business and student support to be transacted virtually, and our marketing team for keeping us so well informed in creative ways. Life must go on, literally and metaphorically, and we are all pulling together to make this possible.
Thanks again for who you are and what you do, and I have never meant that more deeply than I mean it today. Please call on me during this challenging time whenever I can help in any way, large or small.
Dear WVU Parkersburg Family,
In keeping with the Governor’s order and as I announced earlier this morning, effective at the close of business on Monday, March 23, 2020, all buildings owned by WVU Parkersburg, both in Parkersburg and in Ripley, will be closed and locked until further notice. We will be flexible in defining “close of business” to allow students, faculty, and staff to access the buildings through our normal closing time on Monday evening. Please take with you whatever is needed to study remotely or to do your job, anticipating that you might not be returning for a while.
Beginning Tuesday, March 24, 2020, all personnel are required to work remotely and are advised to shelter-in-place at home, with very limited exceptions. Exceptions will be made for a limited number of employees who carry out what are considered at this time to be essential functions–security, maintenance, housekeeping, and a few other individuals. Even these employees, however, will be scheduled in a manner to promote social distancing and to minimize the number of people who are in the facilities at any given time.
If your functions are considered to be essential and if you will be required or allowed to continue working on-site, your supervisor will be in touch with you before the close of business today to work out the details with primary attention to your health and safety and with as much flexibility as possible.
We are authorized at this time to fully compensate employees working remotely for up to 90 days, with the possibility of extension if needed. It is your responsibility to work with your supervisor to get your time reported in a compliant manner even while working remotely, although supervisors will be as lenient and helpful as possible in getting this done. Please also focus on your alternate work assignments if your role is changing temporarily.
As already announced, all instruction and business functions of the University are moving immediately online. It is our great hope that we will be able to come back to face-to-face operations as soon as possible. We will be monitoring the situation continuously and making appropriate announcements.
We recognize it will be difficult for some students and faculty to access Internet resources and that some courses do not naturally lend themselves to online learning. If all goes well, we will shift those components of the courses until the end and deal with them when we return face-to-face. If not, we will assess all options. We deeply regret the inconvenience, but ultimately, this has to be a public health decision more than any other kind.
I remain deeply proud of how this community is coming together, and I am even more committed than ever before to leading you through this crisis and emerging stronger and more resolved on the other side, as a family.
Happy Sunday, Everyone,
I remain so incredibly proud of how the WVU Parkersburg family is pulling together to support each other and more broadly to serve our communities in this time of crisis.
At present, we are not shutting the doors to our campuses entirely, although we will follow local, state, or national guidance to do so if that guidance is received. We do need to make contingency plans in case this scenario is enacted in the coming days. That’s why it’s necessary that we move quickly to be able to transition every essential function of the University to remote delivery on a moment’s notice if we are instructed to do so. If you have questions about how to do this or need resources that you don’t have, please let your supervisor know immediately.
The faculty is working hard and creatively to meet the challenges of moving all instruction to non-face-to-face delivery until further notice. I appreciate your innovation, and the innovations of the staff who are helping you.
I hear uplifting examples from both campuses of staff members volunteering to work face-to-face so that a more vulnerable co-worker can work remotely.
Students are rightly concerned about how you can shift to new ways of learning so quickly and how you can register and be advised for summer school and the fall semester. We are putting new resources into place every day to support you. You are our top priority, and we appreciate your willingness to explore new ways of learning.
From employees who are using the maker space to help design alternative medical supplies which may be used by local healthcare providers to the team who provided some of our stockpiled medical supplies to an area hospital, I appreciate that Riverhawks are thinking strategically and proactively about how we can all support each other and how we can help to ease the burden on the healthcare system.
I must, however, point out that we must balance our zeal to be helpful with the need to account for those resources which are state property. Anyone who has an idea about sharing University resources with the public should take two additional steps: first, loop EVP Alice Harris into the conversation immediately since she is our administrator most aware of the laws which govern such circumstances and gain her permission in advance, and second, keep a very accurate list of what has been shared. It is not my intention to diminish anyone’s desire to do good or admonish anyone for a good deed, but it is my responsibility to be sure we do so with appropriate advance administrative consideration.
Governor Justice has strongly asked, and I would not be surprised if in the near future he might mandate, that all of us who can work remotely begin doing so immediately. We have made great progress toward transitioning our employees to remote working options, but do not be surprised in the coming days if I require even more people to work remotely, leaving only the employees on campuses who simply cannot do their work from home and whose work is time-and place-sensitive. All work is essential. Some work is more time- and place- sensitive than other work.
Again, thank you all for rising to the difficult challenges already upon us, and in advance for rising to perhaps even greater challenges in front of us. The Executive Team members will be doing Facebook Live events this week. These events are being advertised on social media as we attempt to communicate with you often and to keep you fully informed.
Warmest regards and deep appreciation in this time of crisis,
Please review the attached document for updates related to our COVID-19 protocols. Forward questions to me, the executive team members, or your supervisor.
Be advised that WVU Parkersburg is not closing for business, and we do not anticipate doing so unless directed to do so by local, state, or national authorities. We are, however, significantly changing our methods of instruction and our staffing protocols, and we are shifting the general public to network with the University through remote channels.
Please monitor this site for further information.
As always, I will keep you regularly updated.
“Our shared values define us more than our differences. And acknowledging those shared values can see us through our challenges today if we have the wisdom to trust in them again.”
The Late U.S. Senator John McCain
Please see the attached document for guidance about the University’s educational and business plans during the next stage of the COVID-19 crisis.
I have always believed, while celebrating the many ways in which we are different, that it is equally important, perhaps more important, to focus on our shared values, what makes us alike. What is it that transcends our disagreements, our opposing points of view large and small, and brings us together as a community, as a nation, and finally as a human race?
I would suggest love and hope go a long way toward answering that question, and in times such as these, the question is far too important to be rhetorical.
Let me take this moment, because I might be too busy in the coming days, to thank you as a community for your support of each other and of me as your leader during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Support” means many things. It does not necessarily mean that we all have to agree on every decision. In fact, we are likely to achieve a better outcome since the discussions are being informed by so many different points of view. While we do not have to agree on the decisions, however, especially in a time of crisis, it is important for us to do our best to pull together to implement and to support them once they are made.
I have learned a lot the past couple of weeks, with much more left to learn. I have learned, whatever decision I make, some will think it was far too little far too late, while others will find the exact same decision to be overreaching and an over-response to the crisis. That’s human nature. I understand it. Not only do I not mind the questions, but I actually appreciate them because they call me to consider, reconsider, and consider once more every outcome of every decision before it is made and implemented.
I am reminded of something I already knew: a leader is called on to follow his, her, or their own North Star, to make hard decisions for the greater good based on a thorough review of all available opinions and options, and to take responsibility for the decisions he, she, or they make.
Further, I want to take this moment to apologize because I simply have not had, and likely will not have, the time while leading our response to this crisis to answer every single communication I receive about it. I am trying to answer the ones which ask specific questions or forward them to others for answers. Please trust that the many messages of support are very much appreciated, as are the ones which invite me to consider an alternate point of view. Hopefully, all of the concerns expressed in your individual messages are being answered in the community-wide updates which I am attempting to provide regularly.
The attached document covers in detail our plans for extending spring break by one week, transitioning all instruction into non-face-to-face delivery, and providing the maximum possible flexibility to employees.
• Spring break will be extended through Sunday, March 29.
• Instruction will resume in non-face-to-face delivery only on Monday, March 30.
• The University hopes to resume face-to-face instruction on Monday, April 20, but this date is entirely subject to revision based on future events.
• At present, we are not adjusting the spring instructional calendar, but we reserve the right to do so.
• At present, we are not adjusting the summer instructional calendar, but we reserve the right to do so.
• Computer labs will remain open on both campuses because we realize many students and some faculty members do not have Internet capacity at home.
• Effective immediately, all employees will be allowed the maximum possible flexibility in work schedule and location, to be determined in consultation with their immediate supervisor and subject to administrative approval.
While these are the highlights, I encourage you to fully review the attachment for more details.
I met again Tuesday afternoon with the COVID-19 Task Force and vetted these procedures with the task force. Many of its members and others were involved in the decision-making process. All of these decisions are being made with the unanimous consensus of the University’s executive team. I remain in daily contact with Chancellor Tucker and/or members of her team and near-daily contact with the leadership of our Board of Governors. They all remain deeply concerned about your health and safety and fully supportive of the actions we are taking.
This is uncharted territory. We will navigate it together. Reality changes hourly, and thus our response to it must be equally nimble. I remain committed to one thing above all others during this crisis: balancing as my first priority the health and safety of the community with our need to provide an education to our students and continuing employment to our employees.
I am happy to answer any questions you might have and to receive your continuous feedback on what you think we are doing right and what you think we might do better. One thing I assure you that we could not do better–we could not try any harder than we are trying to protect you, because we think of you as our family.
Warmest regards in difficult times,
As promised, here is an additional update on COVID-19 and our response to it. More updates will be forthcoming.
As I shared earlier in the day, based on guidance from the Governor, all University-sponsored or affiliated travel out-of-state or internationally is halted immediately until further notice. Both Governor Justice and I encourage people not to engage in non-essential personal travel until further notice, but you have the right to manage your personal affairs as you think best.
The President’s COVID-19 Task Force met this morning. The agenda for that meeting is attached. Based on prevailing medical opinions, state guidance, and conversations with the task force, I have decided that all large public events on either of our campuses are cancelled until further notice. You may postpone events, but we have no way of knowing at this time how long the period of waiting will be. You may petition the Office of the President directly for an exception to this ruling, but any exception will be granted in the most extenuating circumstances only. Please begin the process of notifying all potentially affected parties about any cancellations or postponements of events for which you are responsible. For example, the final performances of “Sense and Sensibility” scheduled for the Parkersburg campus this weekend will not take place. You may contact the Actors Guild of Parkersburg for information about refunds or for more information.
We are rapidly developing formal, specific, local intervention protocols for dealing with any campus-based case of COVID-19, should any such case occur. I remind you that at present there are no confirmed cases in West Virginia. Further, we are assessing the possibility of shifting to online instruction for all or many classes after spring break and/or considering adjustments to the academic calendar. Any such adjustments would primarily affect students and faculty. We are also exploring safety possibilities which might more directly affect non-teaching staff, and we are considering what the best decisions will be regarding the early learning center. We are, in fact, actively considering all options to balance the primary imperative to ensure the community’s health and safety with the responsibility to serve the educational and employment needs of our students, faculty, and staff.
Watch for major decisions during the early days of next week. In the meantime, please have the very best and safest spring break possible, and please take all necessary precautions.
This is the first message of the day related to COVID-19. Because I consider updating the community to be one of my most important functions, there will likely be other updates coming later today.
As of Friday, March 13, 2020, in keeping with guidance received late yesterday from the Office of Governor Jim Justice, WVU Parkersburg will immediately suspend all official University-sanctioned out-of-state or international travel. No further out-of-state or international travel should be undertaken by a University employee or student, on behalf of the University, until further guidance is given.
In keeping with the Governor’s guidance that he cannot ban personal travel, neither do I have the authority to do so; however, I encourage employees and students to strongly consider postponing any non-essential travel until further notice. I will be modeling this behavior in my own choices.
At present, we will evaluate the continuation of large and/or community gatherings on our campuses on a case-by-case basis. Until further guidance is given, please work through Brady Whipkey to be sure the President’s Office is fully aware of any planned gathering of 50 or more people, and we will then make a decision about whether the event moves forward.
You may expect further updates later in the day.
As all of us are appropriately and deeply concerned about Coronavirus (COVID-19), I want to provide you with these updates. It is in times of struggle when we measure ourselves against our potential, and based on the unity and sense of family we model daily at WVU Parkersburg, I am confident we will measure ourselves successful when this crisis has passed.
According to the website of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, there are still no confirmed cases in West Virginia. Eight people have been tested. Seven have had negative test results, and one is pending at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you want to know more about the current state and national updates, I direct you to the websites of these two organizations, linked below:
I spoke personally with Chancellor Sarah Tucker one-on-one yesterday afternoon. While the state is advising an abundance of caution, no formal guidance of which I am aware has been issued from the Governor of West Virginia, the Higher Education Policy Commission, or the Community and Technical College System regarding closures of universities and colleges or curtailing such activities. While we have a local Board of Governors and are empowered to make and fully supported by the Chancellor in making many local decisions, we are also part of a statewide system which ultimately reports to the Governor of West Virginia.
I also met with the entire WVU Parkersburg Board of Governors yesterday to share our current plans with them and to seek their counsel. I will remain in close contact with the leadership of the Board throughout this crisis, and the Board shares my primary concern for the health and safety of our community.
It is important to remember that we are not entirely autonomous in our decision-making. For example, should I choose to close the University at any point, if I have the legal right to do so, without a directive to do so from the Office of the Governor or the Chancellor, it is likely that all personnel would receive no further compensation during the closure after their personal leave was exhausted. While financial considerations certainly cannot and will not ever dictate decisions about public health, I provide this scenario as one example of how such decisions are not simplistic or one-dimensional.
Of course, the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors to our campus is my primary concern. I assure you that it is also Chancellor Tucker’s primary concern. Most reputable medical authorities with whom I have consulted are not currently suggesting mass closures. Our goals are to balance the essential need to promote good health with the need to educate our students and provide employment for our employees, and the balance of these goals will be the basis for all decisions ongoing, erring somewhat more on the side of caution.
Our senior nursing faculty member, Kathy Frum, has reminded us all that basic sanitation and personal hygiene are probably our best lines of defense. Toward that end, you should be noticing the addition of more hand sanitizer stations going up on both campuses, and we are making special efforts to keep the soap dispensers in the restrooms filled and to clean more frequently all high-touch surfaces such as door knobs and similar surfaces. We can all help by washing our hands thoroughly and often with soap and water.
I have instructed the Provost to prepare as many classes and faculty members as possible to shift instruction online should it become necessary to do so. Steps are being taken to implement this contingency plan, although at present it is just a contingency. We recognize, should such contingency be enacted, that the quality of instruction in some courses would obviously be compromised, but at least it would provide an opportunity for us to move forward. It is comparatively easy to shift most academic associate and bachelor’s level classes without labs online. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to shift classes such as welding or classes with on-site labs online. We are assessing all of the options.
Also, by this message, I am instructing the administration, students, faculty, and staff to recognize and support the most vulnerable among us–the elderly, people with potentially co-occurring medical issues–by making opportunities when possible for them to have any extra reasonable protection they might need. I ask faculty members to evaluate absences on a case-by-case basis and be as flexible as reasonably possible while maintaining academic integrity.
While I have not currently suspended all University-sanctioned travel, it is possible I will do so in the near future. Even now, however, no one is required to undertake any planned University-sanctioned travel, even if funds have been expended. Simply put, right now I am letting people make their own decisions about travel, but I am not requiring anyone who has concerns to travel on the University’s behalf. I am making the decision that I will not engage in any non-essential travel until this crisis has passed, because I feel my primary responsibility is to be here, working to ensure the health and safety of our community.
Regarding the plans made by other institutions of higher learning, I remind you that each institution is different. Marietta College is private, meaning ultimately it can make any decisions its Board and President wish to make, answerable to no other authority. Because of their size and unique roles in the state, West Virginia University and Marshall University are exempt from much of the oversight by the Higher Education Policy Commision to which other institutions are subject. Also, they are much larger residential institutions with many more students, and with a significant international population. While we are monitoring what other institutions are doing, we will be guided by what we believe is best for West Virginia University at Parkersburg, not by the actions of other institutions which are not similar.
Finally, I have named a President’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force which will advise me, reflective of community input its members receive, on major decisions affecting the community. While I have been meeting informally with many key informants, this task force will meet formally as a group at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, March 13, and regularly moving forward. The task force was selected based on roles filled by its members, and includes, in no particular order:
Please feel free to provide your input and concerns to them, and they will keep me updated. Also, as is always the case, feel free to share concerns and counsel directly with me. Next week is spring break, and this will provide an opportunity for us to further assess as a community what our next steps will be. Together, as always, we will endure this international crisis, and we will do all we can to ensure that we are WVU Parkersburg Proud of the way we handled it when the danger has passed.
Good morning, Riverhawks,
As we continue to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are already taking simple precautions at WVU Parkersburg. Even more than usual, we will be paying special attention to ensure that hand sanitizer and soap dispensers are kept full, and we encourage their regular use. You will also see new reminder signs going up in the bathrooms suggesting that we wash our hands often with soap and warm water. We have been told that some of the hot water dispensers in some of the bathrooms do not work or do not provide warm water, and to the degree possible, we are working to address such issues.
Attached to this email is a memorandum from Vice-Chancellor Matt Turner discussing statewide updates and protocols, and below is a link to the most recent update from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, indicating at the time it was written there was still no confirmed case in West Virginia.
Know that we take the matter seriously and are monitoring it closely, and we will make the best decisions we possibly can to promote the continued health and safety of our community.
Good morning, Riverhawks,
As we all continue to watch the news, we cannot help being concerned about the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the deadly strain of Coronavirus that has captured world attention and has spread to the United States.
According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, there are no known cases of COVID-19 in West Virginia and the immediate health risk assessment, according to this agency, is “low.” While I am not a physician and not able to offer medical advice, news services are reporting that there are multiple strains of Coronavirus and that some of the serious, although less fatal strains have been active in this country for a long time, so what we are watching specifically is the potential spread of COVID-19.
We are having a severe flu season locally with the more familiar strains of flu. All flu strains can result in serious illness, so we all need to take extra precautions by washing our hands with soap often and, should we feel sick, getting proper medical attention and attempting not to spread the illness to others.
At WVU Parkersburg, we take the health and safety of our community very seriously. I have reached out to the local health department and to Chancellor Tucker’s office to determine what steps are being taken locally and statewide relative to colleges and universities and COVID-19. I will share more information as it becomes available.
In the interim, we are making certain that we stock abundant supplies of cleaning products, and while we do not expect such steps will be required, we are exploring how we might conduct as much business as possible, both the teaching of classes and meetings among staff, using remote technology. These are precautionary and exploratory measures, and at present we have no expectation that they will become more than that.
Know that we are being vigilant in keeping abreast of developments, and we will keep you abreast of any developments that signal a significant change in health risk or our operational protocols. Below is a link to a statement on the WVDHHR website if you would like more information. Let me know if you have questions or concerns.