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Academics Common Questions

These questions supplement What You Need to Know: Academic Affairs, where you can find more information.

Questions will be added and updated throughout the summer. If you can't find the answer to your question, please email returntocampus@mail.wvu.edu or ask it at a Return to Campus Conversation.

Are all classes online?

No, but the majority of upper-division courses will be delivered through online or hybrid instruction when classes begin in Morgantown on Aug. 26. Our goal is to preserve the on-campus experience for freshmen, graduate and professional students as much as possible. Some hands-on courses, such as labs, clinicals and studio classes, may still be offered face-to-face, as determined by the academic programs.

As the University deems appropriate, based on the local situation with COVID-19, we may invite additional students back to campus this fall at a later date when it is safer to do so. That date will depend on the COVID-19 trends within Monongalia County and West Virginia, and students will have ample notice prior to returning.

Related questions:

As an instructor, how will I know if students are missing class due to testing positive?

You will be notified if a student is unable to attend your class due to a COVID-19 related matter.

Can freshmen withdraw and defer to a future term or take classes at another institution? Updated

We understand this semester may not be what you expected, and we recognize your right to make this decision. If you are a first-time freshman, you have the option to defer admission, which means you will not attend another institution; in this case, your scholarship offer will remain intact so long as you enroll by fall 2021. You may also choose to begin your education at another institution. For more information about this path, please contact your regional recruiter.

Can I still use in-person resources (Libraries, etc.) even if I don’t have classes on campus?

Yes, but anyone who plans to use any campus facility, resource or service needs to be tested for COVID-19 and receive a negative result prior to physically being on campus.

Can I take classes online if I'm not comfortable with returning to campus? Updated

We understand that everyone's comfort level may be different. The best thing to do if you're uncomfortable with returning to campus is to contact your adviser to discuss your schedule.

Students who have a disability or verified medical reason to have a remote learning schedule should contact the Office of Accessibility Services for accommodations.

Can incoming international students have online-only class schedules? New

New international students must have at least one in-person course. If you are an international student and need guidance, contact the Office of Global Affairs at 304-293-6112.

Can upperclassmen withdraw or take a semester off? Updated

We understand this semester may not be what you expected, but we recognize your right to make this decision. We hope that you will let us help you on your next steps and will reach out to your adviser and the Mountaineer Hub, as it may affect your financial aid status. They can work with you to develop an easier plan to return to campus when you determine it is the right time to do so.

Current students who have scheduled courses for the fall term and are considering not returning should follow the Registrar’s withdraw policy to ensure course withdraw, housing cancellation (if necessary) and cancellation of financial aid.

If you are a first-time freshman, you have the option to defer admission.

Related questions:

How can I meet with my adviser?

Meetings with advisers will be held remotely using teleconferencing tools.

How do I access the Voices for Change program? New

New freshmen and transfer students are expected to complete "Voices for Change" by Get Inclusive, an online, non-opinionated, science-based wellness course taken by thousands of students each year. The module covers substance use, sexual violence, and diversity and inclusion.

Login instructions were emailed to your WVU MIX account on July 27. You will access the program through that email, using your WVU login credentials.

Visit the WellWVU Alcohol Education page for deadlines, instructions and more about who's required to complete the program.

How do I know if my class has been moved online?

The University will send a message to the campus community on or around Aug. 5 once the revised fall schedule is finalized. You will also see changes to your own schedules within STAR at that time. We appreciate your patience as we finalize these plans and are working as fast as possible to finalize this class schedule.

How do we achieve six foot spacing with 50% classroom capacity?

Current CDC guidance is to maintain at least six feet of distance between individuals whenever possible. However, these physical distancing measures may be difficult to maintain in some public settings (e.g., certain classrooms). Along with enhanced cleaning measures, if students wear masks, practice good hygiene and occupy every other seat in a classroom, the potential spread of COVID-19 should be limited.

How do you know the quality of online classes will be better than spring?

This won’t be like the spring, when our faculty had two weeks to transition face-to-face courses to remote instruction. Since early summer, Provost Maryanne Reed tasked faculty with developing courses that could more seamlessly pivot to online instruction in response to the evolving public health situation. Generally speaking, a fully online class is much different from what many students experienced in the spring; true online courses are built for online learning, engagement, etc. In addition, our faculty learned a lot from their experience in the spring to help them adapt their classes for this fall, and many instructors have engaged in professional development and training opportunities through the WVU Teaching and Learning Commons. We expect to see more live and interactive virtual classes as a result.

Related questions:

How will course requirements be met when a student has to quarantine/self-isolate for possibly a week at a time, in multiple instances?

WVU has amended its attendance policy to reflect the impact of COVID-19 and has instituted a new emergency leave policy that provides guidance if a student should be unable to participate in class for more than a week.

It is the expectation that during the next academic year, all course material necessary to meet the course learning goals will be available to students in the event of a mandated quarantine or isolation. Even in quarantine or isolation, a student will be able to keep up with class content, as well as any class requirements. Communication with instructors is key to continued success within the course, so please be sure to keep your instructor informed of any situation that may impact your class attendance.

How will group projects be completed?

As we continue to follow physical distancing guidelines, most group projects will be completed using the various technologies the university has invested in and supports, such as Zoom, Collaborate, eCampus, Google Meet, etc. However, in some select cases, group projects will be allowed to be completed in class while maintaining safe physical distancing and while wearing personal protective equipment. As always, please speak with your instructor regarding any specific course requirements, as well as any questions or concerns you have.

How will lab equipment be cleaned?

Cleaning supplies (e.g., wipes and disinfectants) will be available for faculty and staff to clean their own lab equipment.

I am an upperclassman whose courses must remain in-person, but I do not want to be on campus. What should I do?

Please work directly with your department chair and/or program director to discuss your options.

I don’t want online classes. What can I do?

If you would like to modify your schedule, please contact your adviser to discuss your options. Classes can be changed up to the end of the first week of courses.

Related questions:

I had an online-only schedule. Will it change to where I might need to be on campus? New

Students who are currently online will almost certainly not be moved to on-campus classes. However, all students should refer to the final revised course schedule when it is released on or about Aug. 5.

I'm a freshman. Do I have to be on campus? Updated

We are encouraging freshman students to be on campus for in-person instruction as we know that assists with the transition to college life. However, if you have concerns, please contact your adviser or your major department chair who can help you understand your options. There may be opportunities for freshmen to have an online-only class scheduled this fall, but please know that it may take some time and work alongside an adviser to make this change. We have to be sure that courses that you take are optimally delivered in an online format and are also degree pursuant.

I’m a junior. Are ALL of my classes now online? New

We don’t have an answer for you right now, and we appreciate your patience as we work to finalize a new class schedule. Our hope is to have those decisions made on or around Aug. 5, so you will know if all of your classes are online at that time.

If I take the semester off, will I automatically lose WVU scholarships for not receiving the minimum amount of credits?

You can submit the Scholarship Exception Request (PDF) to explain your situation. Your request will be reviewed and needs to be approved. Also, in this situation, you should not take classes at another institution or you would then be considered a transfer and would be considered in a different category.

If my class has been converted to an online version, will it be better than what I experienced in the spring transition to online?

Remote learning this spring had to occur very rapidly in response to the pandemic. In the spring, faculty had to take in-person instruction and deliver it remotely. That is not the same as an online course. Emergency remote teaching is intended to be temporary and adequate. Online courses are fully developed distance education curriculum that are designed to meet the learning objectives of the course. These online courses are intentionally developed using activities (via technologies) that are uniquely selected with the course learning objectives in mind. In addition, faculty are attending training sessions this summer so they can provide the best online learning experience possible.

My program requires community service hours but no schools, nursing homes, pre-schools, etc. are allowing visitors to their facilities. What am I supposed to do?

Please check with your adviser who can best guide you on how to address.

What are the expectations for classroom attendance for students who are isolated due to a positive diagnosis of COVID-19? What guidelines should faculty use for accommodations and leniency?

WVU has amended its attendance policy for University sanctioned absences to reflect the impact of COVID-19 and has instituted a new emergency leave policy that provides guidance if a student should be unable to participate in class for more than a week.

Faculty also should review the COVID-19 Instructor Expectations and Best Practices as they plan their courses and prepare syllabi.

What are the guidelines and expectations for meeting one-on-one with students in academic advising or career counseling sessions?

We do want to limit as many in-person conversations as possible to limit the spread of COVID-19. However, wearing masks and/or face coverings and properly physical distancing will allow for these types of conversations this fall. These types of conversations can take place safely in a virtual format, as well.

What does “phased" return to campus mean?

A “phased” approach means that not all students on the Morgantown campus will be returning to in-person instruction at the same time this fall. On Aug. 26, when classes begin this fall, we’ll have many students that have an online-only or hybrid schedule. As the University deems appropriate, based on the local situation with COVID-19, we may invite additional students back to campus this fall at a later date when it is safer to do so. That date will depend on the COVID-19 trends within Monongalia County and West Virginia, and students will have ample notice prior to returning.

What is "upper-division" undergraduate course? Will ALL 300- and 400- level classes be switched to online? New

The courses that will move online will be those that either had less than 20% of its students enrolled at the freshman rank and/or had less than 20 total freshmen enrolled. The list of those courses was shared with the college and school deans to work with the academic units to select those courses that could most readily be transitioned online without negatively impacting the quality of education delivered. The ultimate decision to move a course online was left to the academic units in consultation with their dean's office and the Provost's Office.

What is a "hybrid" course? New

Hybrid courses have a mix of online and in-person content, activities, assignments and interaction. That specific mix is different in each course but what is true of all hybrid courses is that students can expect to experience the full range of normal learning activities in both modalities at the direction of the instructor.

What is the final exam schedule for fall 2020? New

The final exam schedule will be published sometime in the next two weeks. Because of the move of eCampus to the cloud, it will work like our normal final exam schedule.

What will this do to upperclassmen who rely on in-person classrooms and performances for their grades (e.g., theatre and marching band)? New

Please check with your adviser for clarification on how those programs will be adjusted. The Provost’s Office is working with academic units to identify additional courses that can be moved online or to hybrid delivery and those that should be exempt from transition. During this decision-making process, particular attention will be paid to preserve, as much as possible, the on-campus experience for freshmen, graduate and professional students, and to identify hands-on learning experiences (e.g., labs, clinical and capstones) that may continue to be offered face-to-face, giving priority to those courses that serve graduating seniors.

When do classes end? New

To maintain the number of instructional weeks for accreditation purposes, the week of Monday, Nov. 30 through Friday, Dec. 4 will now be considered an “instructional week/online” for programs with an Aug. 26 start date rather than a review week. The last day of “instruction” – regardless of start date – will be Dec. 4.

When do classes start? Updated

Classes on the Morgantown campus will begin Wednesday, Aug. 26, a week later than originally scheduled, with some exceptions:

  • Some professional programs may have alternative start dates. Please check with your program for confirmation.
  • Health Sciences graduate and professional students will receive guidance from their specific deans and/or program directors. This includes the Charleston and Eastern campuses.
  • Courses that are part of the Graduate Online degree program will start Wednesday, Aug. 19.
  • Courses that are part of the Undergraduate Online degree program will start Wednesday, Aug. 26.

Classes at WVU Tech and WVU Potomac State College will begin Wednesday, Aug. 19 as originally scheduled.

When does spring semester start?

For the same reason of reducing the possibility of spread, spring semester 2021 will begin a week later on Jan. 19. The semester will not end early and will conclude on April 30 (last day of classes) with finals being held on campus May 3-7.

When is New International Student Orientation? New

A virtual orientation for new international students will be held Aug. 17 and will be open to all new international students, including those overseas.

When will students and faculty find out about the updated class schedule?

The Office of the Provost expects to have a finalized course schedule on or around Aug. 5. The schedule will be accessible through the STAR system.

Why bring any students back to campus? Why freshmen?

Our health experts tell us that we will all need to adapt our world while the threat of COVID-19 exists, especially prior to a vaccine or therapeutic is delivered. We know that it is possible to continue the education of our students at WVU with certain measures like masks/face covering, physical distancing, handwashing and more. With the hope that we will have all students return when it’s safe, we will slowly and safely bring select groups of students back to our campus with the hope that more can return later this fall. This will allow the University to make decisions with more accurate information and will assist our healthcare experts to not be unnecessarily overwhelmed at any point.

Why did WVU cancel spring break? Isn’t it too early to decide?

The University is taking all necessary precautions in accordance with public health guidance. Until there is a vaccine, departing and returning to campus poses a public health threat to the community by increasing the introduction of new cases of COVID-19. Keeping students on campus will help contain the spread and ensure classes can be conducted in-person. The same rationale was applied for fall break 2020.

Why do I have to take a COVID-19 education course to come back to campus?

The most formidable defense against COVID-19 is knowledge and understanding, and the University believes the COVID-19 education module will explain why certain steps have been taken and rules put in place, adding to their effectiveness and general compliance. Completing the course, for which there is no charge, is a pre-requisite for returning to campus.

Related questions:

Why is it safe for teachers to come back but not all students?

We have taken significant precautions to keep our faculty and students as safe as possible within the classroom, including plexiglass barriers, physical distancing, masks/face coverings requirements. In addition, we’ve provided faculty with guidelines to assure that all students are following the necessary protocols. We understand that this situation is not ideal, but we know the importance of in-person instruction, and we are doing everything we can to continue that instruction.

Why is the University ending on-campus classes early?

Public health officials warn that late fall could become challenging with the onset of the flu season combined with COVID-19. WVU is taking this precaution of not having students return to campus to reduce spread and keep faculty, staff and students healthy.

Related questions:

Why was study abroad canceled for fall?

There are still many travel restrictions and health concerns as the pandemic continues to evolve around the world. Study abroad will not be held in Fall 2020, but virtual “study abroad” experiences are being developed, such as a program that connects WVU student clubs with equivalent clubs at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. If your student organization is interested in participating, view the list of RMIT's current clubs to find a group similar to yours and then contact educationabroad@mail.wvu.edu or SEL@mail.wvu.edu.

Will commencement be in-person?

Since students will not be returning following Thanksgiving, the University feels it is not in the best interest of the public’s health and safety to host an in-person commencement. A virtual ceremony will be held on Dec. 19 to honor WVU’s August and December graduates. More information will be posted in the coming weeks.

In addition, information regarding an in-person commencement for both the May and December 2020 ceremonies will be posted at a future date.

Will credits earned in previous semesters still be valid if I'm unable to attend this year?

Yes, your credits will still be valid if you return after some time off. Please note, you are considered a readmitted student if you have been away from the University for at least one semester excluding the summer terms; therefore you will need to reapply to WVU and, in some cases, you may also need to reapply to your program.

Will HSC students have clinicals in the hospitals?

Yes, students are currently participating in clinical rotations in medical facilities in Morgantown and around the country. All students are required to wear appropriate PPE that is typically provided by their program or the facility. Students are not permitted to work with COVID-19 patients at this time.

Will keyboards, mice and peripherals in computer classrooms be professionally cleaned each day? New

Yes, all high-touch areas like keyboards and mice will be professionally cleaned every 24 hours. Cleaning materials will also be available for anyone who would like to use them throughout the day in addition to the scheduled cleaning.

Will on-campus classes still be available as hybrid, if I get sick and can’t attend class? New

WVU has a revised attendance policy and new emergency leave policy to ensure that students who become ill will be given the opportunity to continue their learning or create the best possible solution, depending on length of absence. Faculty and instructors have been provided a set of expectations and best practices to apply, which includes having a contingency plan in place for campus-wide or student-specific remote teaching.

Will student teachers be able to teach?

Since West Virginia public schools have not yet announced their plans for the fall, we do not have a definite answer about student teaching at this time. We are working with superintendents throughout the state to assess the situation and will make an announcement when we can offer more concrete information.

Will the Office of Global Affairs be open for in-person services?

The Office of Global Affairs will be open this fall for limited in-person services. All regular services are still available, though many will be virtual.

If you are an international student and need guidance, contact the Office of Global Affairs at 304-293-6112.

Will there be a reduction in tuition for online class schedules?

No, there will not be a reduction in tuition, as students will continue to receive quality instruction and will be earning college credit toward commencement.

However, students who are moved from in-person courses to receiving delivery of all courses in an online format will only be charged $220 in student fees, which is $440 less than the standard fee amount. The University is doing so in recognition that these students are studying remotely while other students will be studying on campus.

Will there be an HP/P/F (Pass/Fail) grading option like in the spring? New

The HP/P/F (Pass/Fail) grading mode is currently not an option for the fall semester. The fall semester should be nothing like the spring semester, in which our faculty had two weeks to transition from face-to-face courses to remote instruction. Since early summer, Provost Reed has tasked faculty with developing courses that could more seamlessly pivot to online instruction in response to the evolving public health situation. Generally speaking, a fully online class is much different from what many students experienced in the spring; true online courses are built for online learning, engagement, etc.

With the later start date, will students be losing a week of instruction?

No. WVU is required by Higher Learning Commission to provide 15 weeks of instruction to students to maintain its regional accreditation status. For Fall 2020, WVU will begin instruction for most programs on the Morgantown campus one week later than originally planned; however, the week after Thanksgiving will now be an instructional week for those programs starting Aug. 26, allowing for a total of 15 weeks.

Classes on the Beckley and Keyser campuses will begin on Wednesday, Aug. 19, and follow their posted schedules.

Please visit the Provost’s website for updated Academic Calendars.