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WVU Parkersburg Amended COVID-19 Protocols

Amended COVID-19 Protocols

West Virginia University at Parkersburg

Effective Date January 17, 2022

The following protocols and guidelines are hereby incorporated into existing COVID-19 protocols and guidelines and will remain in effect unless and until further notice from the Office of the President of WVUP. Should any of the guidelines and protocols in this document conflict with existing guidelines and protocols, the guidance carrying the most recent date will supersede all other guidance. Decisions reflected herein were made by the President after soliciting, receiving, and duly considering counsel from the WVUP Board of Governors, vice presidents, and COVID-19 Task Force (made up of a cross-section of stakeholders) and are based on current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal, state, and local public health experts and governing authorities. Those parties mentioned as providing counsel to the President are in general accord and have affirmed their support of these protocols and guidelines.

No. 1: Until further notice, masks must be worn inside all WVUP facilities unless one person is working alone inside a closed room. Anyone who chooses not to wear a mask inside WVUP facilities will be required to leave the premises. Anyone who does not have a mask, but is willing to wear one, will be provided with a mask. Masks must be worn to fit securely over the nose and the mouth. They may not be worn below the nose. WVUP reserves the right to reject the quality of any mask and to require any person to wear a mask provided by WVUP. Legitimate medical exceptions will be made for anyone with a registered and relevant disability. There are no other exceptions. Faculty members may wear clear face shields instead of masks while providing class instruction.

CDC has updated its mask guidelines to indicate that cloth masks which do not close firmly at the sides provide some protection, but do not provide maximum protection. WVUP is in the process of attempting to secure higher quality, CDC-recommended masks for all employees and students. These masks will be distributed free of charge if and when they are secured. In the interim, WVUP recommends that every person wearing a cloth mask should consider double masking, layering two masks with special attention to ensuring a secure fit.

Here are some links to additional useful information about best types of masks, proper wearing of masks, and efficacy of masks in preventing spread of disease:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/types-of-masks.html

https://www.healthline.com/health/double-masking#effectiveness

No. 2: Those who contract COVID-19 or are directly exposed to someone who has contracted COVID-19 are required to report their status to the Office of the President through the Chief of Staff’s liaison, J.B. Skidmore, at this email address: reportcovid@wvup.edu. Reports should be made immediately upon a positive test result or a known exposure. WVUP is amending its isolation and quarantine guidance to correspond with recent updates in CDC guidance. Those known to be positive should isolate for five days or until they are symptom-free, whichever is longer, and wear a mask for at least an additional five days after return to campus. Those who are exposed, but not positive and who are symptom-free, and who are fully vaccinated, may voluntarily submit proof of vaccination to reportcovid@wvup.edu and may refrain from isolating from campus. Those who are exposed, but not positive and who are symptom-free, but who are not fully vaccinated, should isolate for five days and wear a mask for at least an additional five days after return to campus.

Note that the provision to wear a mask for an additional five days is CDC guidance, but is superseded by WVUP’s own policy of mandatory masks for everyone. Here is a link to additional useful information about CDC’s current isolation and quarantine guidance:

https://emergency.cdc.gov/coca/ppt/2022/011322_slides.pdf

No. 3: WVUP does not currently require testing beyond the random weekly testing of employees and students who are physically working or learning on WVUP’s campuses. This random testing will continue until further notice under the same terms. WVUP encourages voluntary testing of all employees and students. At minimum, WVUP strongly encourages employees and students to be tested under all of the following circumstances: testing negative after a known COVID-19 infection before returning to campus, testing to determine status after a known exposure, testing at regular intervals for people who are high-risk for severe illness, testing after travel or large group activities, and testing as required for participation in clinical or field experience. Any positive test must be reported as outlined earlier in these protocols.

As long as supplies last, one free rapid test kit per week is available for all students and employees only. To secure the free test kits, pick up on the Parkersburg campus from J.B. Skidmore in the multipurpose room of the main building between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and on the Jackson County campus in the administrative office between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday. WVUP will make an effort as long as test kits are available for purchase to continue making them widely available at no cost to students and employees. Additionally, there are many off-campus free testing options. Here are links to additional useful information about testing:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/cdc-clarifies-isolation-guidance-include-testing-possible-rcna10864

https://governor.wv.gov

No. 4: The state currently has in force a ban on non-essential out-of-state travel. The President of WVUP is required by the state to personally approve any out-of-state travel and will approve such travel on a case-by-case basis until the pandemic abates or state guidance changes. All travel should currently be minimized, and those proposing to travel on WVUP business should be prepared to make a compelling case regarding the necessity. Until further notice, no one will be required to undertake official WVUP travel as a condition of employment and will undertake any such approved travel at their own risk. WVUP has no right to impose any restrictions on personal travel which is undertaken at each person’s own risk.

No. 5: Anyone seeking to hold any face-to-face event within WVUP’s facilities, on the grounds of WVUP’s facilities, or any WVUP-sanctioned event outside of WVUP’s facilities must have that event approved in advance by the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President. There are no exceptions except that internal meetings of fewer than 10 people are exempt from this protocol, but internal meetings should be conducted using Zoom whenever practical. When not practical to meet by Zoom, masks and social distancing are required. Zoom meetings require no COVID-based additional approval. Those who do not follow the practice of notifying the Office of the Chief of Staff in advance and who do not secure approval in advance risk having any events canceled and losing the privilege of scheduling future events. This protocol will be relaxed as the pandemic abates, and eventually will return to normal event planning channels.

No. 6: To the degree possible, employees and students should practice social distancing inside and outside of classrooms. The administration recognizes that this is not practical and entirely possible in some settings, but it should be enforced and practiced whenever possible and practical.

No. 7: The Office of Academic Affairs should work in consultation with faculty to update and communicate the best and safest practices possible to continue face-to-face instruction supported by virtual learning options.

No. 8: As is common in higher education across the State of West Virginia and nationwide among institutions of similar profile at this time, WVUP strongly encourages all employees and students to become fully vaccinated and boosted, but will not enforce a policy of mandatory vaccination at this time and does not anticipate doing so unless required by federal or state authorities. Further, WVUP will not require employees or students at this time to submit their vaccination status to the university unless they volunteer to do so in order to avoid the possibility of required isolation from campus after exposure. Some students choosing to participate in healthcare clinical experiences or other field experiences may be required to be vaccinated by their field site host, but should not construe this requirement as coming from WVUP.

No. 9: For the duration of the pandemic, the President or any vice president of the university has the authority to shift any employee to temporary remote work status. At present, this practice will primarily be used to deal with or to prevent staffing issues in essential offices and will not result in a mass return to remote work.

No. 10: The pandemic changes daily; thus, all protocols are subject to update and change with written notice provided through usual channels. Suggestions, questions, or concerns may be referred to the President or to any vice president of WVUP.

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