West Virginia University becomes the latest school to backtrack on in-person classes after a spike in Covid-19 cases

The Morgantown campus canceled all in-person classes Monday and will host online classes only starting Wednesday through September 25, the school said in a statement. Undergraduate classes started on August 26.

The school said the shift to online classes is a result of the increase in positive cases on the Morgantown campus, as well as reports of parties held over the holiday weekend.

“This pause in face-to-face undergraduate instruction will give us time to monitor the steadily climbing cases of COVID-19,” Dr. Jeffrey Coben, associate vice president of health affairs and dean of the School of Public Health, said. “There is increasing evidence that crowded indoor gatherings, such as those that occurred over the weekend, can serve as super-spreader events.”

This week, the Covid-19 positivity rate among West Virginia University Morgantown students was 1.66% of the 22,698 students tested, and 4 faculty or staff have tested positive, according to the university’s Covid-19 dashboard. As of Monday, 377 students had tested positive.
The university placed 29 students on immediate interim suspension on Sunday amid Covid-19 investigations, the school said. Additional sanctions are pending.

The university said it is working “aggressively” to find those attending large off-campus gatherings and will work quickly to bring action against anyone violating the Student Code of Conduct. It is also working with local authorities to see what else can be done to address students who are breaking the rules, the statement said.

While most undergraduate classes will be online through September 25, the school said undergraduate health science students “already engaged in clinical rotation” are exempt, as well as graduate and professional courses. The school will also temporarily suspend and reduce the number of in-person recreational activities and on-campus events, it said.

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The university said it will evaluate the public health situation on September 23 but intends to go back to in-person classes on September 28.

The school is asking students to stay in their current location if they traveled for the holiday weekend to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has shared similar guidance with the country, asking that sick students stay put instead of traveling.

He advised colleges and universities to help isolate students infected with Covid-19 on campus instead of sending them home, Fauci said Tuesday.

“You send them back to their community, you will in essence be reseeding with individuals who are capable of transmitting infection, many communities throughout the country,” Fauci said. “So, it’s much, much better to have the capability to put them in a place where they could comfortably recover.”

CNN’s Elizabeth Hartfield, Taylor Romine and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.

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