WVU

Students wearing masks exit the Wise Library as they walk past the 9/11 Memorial prior to the start of the 20th anniversary remembrance Sept. 10.

MORGANTOWN — Members of the West Virginia University Board of Governors said they support the administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Rob Alsop, WVU's vice Ppesident for strategic initiatives, gave an update on campus data and COVID protocols.

“There are no easy answers,” Chairman Tom Jones said. “It’s very much a balancing act with varying opinions. And I think you’ve followed the data, encouraged the vaccinations, and despite delta being much more contagious, I want to say that President Gee, you, Dr. Marsh and others have done a good job in dealing with this in the best way possible and minimizing the impact.”

Alsop said 74.21% of the WVU staff in Morgantown have been vaccinated, while 91.64% of Morgantown instructors are vaccinated and 77.72% of students are vaccinated.

“This University has taken into account students’ comments, the faculty and others,” board member Kevin Craig said. “Their job is to weigh all of the factors, and at this point, based upon what was just shared, I feel really reassured that the approach the University and the administration is taking in weighing all of these factors, while keeping the options to adjust quickly, has put us on the appropriate path.”

Alsop acknowledged in his report the stress that hospitals and communities across West Virginia are experiencing right now amid the pandemic’s latest surge, and he noted those factored heavily into WVU’s recent decision to implement a change in campus protocols which includes a temporary indoor mask requirement regardless of vaccination status.

Alsop also highlighted results of ongoing sample testing, as well as quarantine and isolation numbers which are lower now than during the same time last year. He called attention to WVU’s partnership with the Monongalia County Health Department to provide testing and vaccination clinics — free for students, employees and the community.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed touched on challenges some faculty and instructors with young children may be experiencing due to COVID-19 exposures in K-12 classrooms and in pre-k programs and nursery schools.

“We are working with our academic leaders to support those faculty who may need to stay at home for up to two weeks with their children who are being quarantined,” Reed said.

Despite the enduring challenges of the pandemic, WVU Foundation President & CEO Cindi Roth told the Board that donations reached a record $270.1 million in fiscal year 2021 to benefit meaningful education, research and outreach activities. The “We Are Stronger Together” initiative alone brought in more than $23 million to provide student scholarships and support.

“Our purpose remains very strong to provide resources that are essential to this University,” Roth said.

WVU President Gordon Gee focused his remarks on WVU’s inaugural Medical Amnesty Awareness Week, which will be followed by our annual Hazing Prevention Week as part of a University-wide effort to keep students safe and also be more aware of their options in case of an emergency.

“I am honored that we will have Kimberly and TJ Burch, parents of Nolan Burch, on campus,” Gee said.

The couple will be part of a discussion of the Emmy-award winning documentary “Breathe, Nolan, Breathe’” and a hazing prevention strategies presentation during Hazing Prevention Week.

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