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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 fall. If you can't find the answer to your question, please submit a question or email returntocampus@mail.wvu.edu.

Are best practices available for instructors teaching in-person classes? For example, is it acceptable to provide handouts that are passed from student to student?

Yes. View COVID-19 Instructor Expectations and Best Practices on the Faculty website. In that example, instructors should hand out each paper rather than allowing them to be passed from student to student. Alternatively, instructors could put the handouts on the seats prior to the start of class or use electronic versions.

Are faculty required each day to see the green pass on students’ phones?

No. Instructors are not required to check for passes. Faculty may use their discretion in determining whether this is necessary for face-to-face courses. That said, all students, faculty and staff should be prepared to present this pass, which has a date stamp, if requested. Displaying your pass when asked signals respect for others and your shared concern for the well-being of our campus communities.

Are spring classes online?

For the spring 2021 semester, WVU will continue its strategy of reducing some classroom density and moving others online to slow the spread of COVID-19. The majority of seats will remain online. Half of the course sections offered will be either completely in-person or offer an in-person component in a hybrid format. Many of these in-person and hybrid classes will be for freshmen and graduate students. Capstone and hands-on courses for graduating seniors will also be offered in person whenever possible.

Visit Course Delivery Formats for more about the types of courses being offered.

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?

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 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?

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 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.

How can I meet with my adviser?

Meetings with advisers will be held remotely using teleconferencing tools.

How can I tell from my course schedule if my courses are online or in person?

In WVU’s scheduling system, types of classes are differentiated in a number of ways. If your course shows a building location with dates/times on your course schedule, at least some meetings of the course will be in person. Visit Course Delivery Formats for more about the types of courses being offered and how those courses are indicated on your course schedule.

How do I know if my online course is synchronous or asynchronous, and what does that mean?

For synchronous classes, you may need to log in and join at scheduled times to participate in discussions, testing or live webcasts. Asynchronous classes will require regular participation, but you can complete your coursework on your own time.

Visit Course Delivery Formats for complete descriptions of online course types and examples of how those will appear on your 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 is an asynchronous online course different from a correspondence course?

Correspondence courses are typically self-paced, have little to no student-student interaction and have limited interactions between the student and instructor. Interaction with the instructor in correspondence courses is usually initiated by the student. An asynchronous online course, however, is not self-paced and includes substantive instructor-initiated interaction with and among the students.

Related questions:

How will course requirements be met when a student has to quarantine/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.

How will physical distancing be maintained in lab classes?

We have reduced density based on seating capacity in a manner similar to our non-lab classes. Instructors will be working to maintain appropriate distances between students and between students and instructors. In addition, where needed for additional protection, we can deploy face shields to supplement the use of masks.

How will the instructor know if a student tests positive?

It is the student's responsibility to let instructors know they will not be attending class and work with their instructors to develop alternative plans to allow the student to progress in the class until the student can physically return.

If the student has any in-person classes as part of their course schedule, the Office of the Provost will send a notification letter to their instructors informing them there has been a COVID-19 related event (without disclosing whether the student tested positive or is in quarantine).

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:

If a class is listed as being online, but also has meeting days and times listed, is the student expected to be logged online during those times?

Yes. You should be logged into your eCampus course during your designated class times.

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.

Is there software or an automated way to record attendance?

iClicker or CBORD Mobile ID are great attendance tools available to instructors, and these tools are supported by the University.

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.

Under what circumstances would WVU go entirely online? Under what circumstances would WVU send students home?

There is no single metric, specific number or percentage that would trigger the University to change course. Rather, multiple factors are being reviewed in combination to determine if the University is trending in the wrong direction.

To determine if a trend is concerning, the University is frequently monitoring the following factors:

  1. Number of students, faculty and staff testing positive on a daily, cumulative and seven-day basis;
  2. Number of positive cases compared to total tests on a single day, cumulative and a seven-day rolling basis;
  3. Number of cases in Monongalia County per 100,000 people on a seven-day rolling average;
  4. R-naught values; which represents the spread of infection;
  5. The number of students in isolation and the percentage of isolation beds occupied;
  6. The number of students in quarantine and our ability to support those in quarantine;
  7. Information on hospitalizations and hospital capacity;
  8. State and county level data on the West Virginia DHHR’s website;
  9. Supply of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies; and
  10. The ability of University and local officials to effectively undertake case management and undertake contract tracing.

If trends indicate that community spread is moving too quickly, it does not mean the University will automatically move to solely online course delivery. Other options could be implemented, such as further reducing activities on campus, restricting travel on campus or moving more or all classes online for a certain number of weeks to reduce spread.

If the University and its partners in public health feel the community spread cannot be flattened or controlled, only then will the option of moving all classes online and halting all but essential operations on campus be implemented.

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 input have faculty had in the format classes are being offered in?

In some departments, faculty were consulted regarding which classes are best delivered online. The University chose to preserve certain courses in an on-campus delivery guided by reasons of discipline/professional accreditation, preserving the campus environment to enhance the success of our freshman students and ensuring optimal completion of learning outcomes.

Faculty who do not want to teach online have the option of filing an ADA accommodation or request exemption through Medical Management if they desire.

The Office of the Provost consulted with the academic leaders in each college to determine what remains in the classroom.

What is a "hybrid" course?

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 a “synchronous” online course?

A “synchronous” course refers to an online course with elements that are conducted in real time. No campus visits are required. Students will log in and join at scheduled times to explore content with the instructor, participate in class discussions, conduct group work activities, and/or complete assessments together (or “in sync”). Much like a face-to-face course, a synchronous online course includes significant structure, deadlines and course learning outcomes that must be met in a set period of time as outlined on the course syllabus. These courses also include substantive instructor-initiated interaction with and among the students.

Synchronous online courses include live delivery and communications, which may happen using tools such as Zoom or Blackboard Collaborate. Students should prepare for these sessions by finishing any assigned readings, compiling questions they have for the instructor, and thinking about how they might be able to contribute to the next live session. Students may be asked to participate in video sharing, chat conversations, live polling and/or interactive whiteboard sessions to engage them in the learning experience.

On your WVU course schedule, a synchronous online course will likely show:

  • Meeting days and times (these are the times you are expected to be present)
  • Campus and building location as “Online”

The following is an example of what a synchronous online course might look like.

Screenshot of what a synchronous online course

What is a hybrid course and how will I know if my class is hybrid?

A hybrid course is one that includes both face-to-face and online (synchronous or asynchronous) elements. It is up to the instructor how to manage and deliver a hybrid course. For instance, half of the students may report to campus on Tuesdays, while the other half may participate through online activities. On Thursday, the groups may trade places (with half of the students on campus and half online).

Since hybrid courses are a combination of face-to-face and online delivery, students can expect to see a variety of tools utilized. For example, some pre-work may be expected to be completed online (such as watching a pre-recorded video and responding to a discussion post) prior to attending an in-person discussion or problem review session.

At this point in time, the WVU course schedule does not specifically indicate a hybrid course. On your WVU course schedule, a hybrid course will look like a face-to-face course and will likely show:

  • Meeting days and times
  • Building location with an assigned room

The following is an example of what an in-person or hybrid course course might look like.

Screenshot of what an in-person or hybrid course

What is a hybrid-flexible (HyFlex) course and how will I know if my class is HyFlex?

HyFlex course delivery is new to WVU. However, WVU Teaching and Learning Commons has been training faculty and instructors all summer on how to adapt their courses to this delivery. In a HyFlex course, all core class content is available both face-to-face and online, and there are variations in instructional delivery. A Hyflex course may have both synchronous and asynchronous online elements. Students may have the option to attend on campus, online, or a combination of both based on preference. The primary benefit of HyFlex delivery is considered the flexibility to allow students more control over how they participate and complete course requirements.

At this point in time, the WVU course schedule does not specifically indicate a HyFlex course. On your WVU course schedule, a HyFlex course will look like a face-to-face course and will likely show:

  • Meeting days and times
  • Building location with an assigned room

Your instructor will provide specific information about how the course will function and when you are required to report to campus versus online. If the course has a room assignment and the student does not hear differently from the instructor, they should plan on reporting to campus on the first day of class with the appropriate PPE.

Students should continue to monitor their MIX email and eCampus for information and watch for course syllabi to be posted.

The following is an example of what an in-person or hybrid course course might look like.

Screenshot of what an in-person or hybrid course

What is an “asynchronous” online course?

An “asynchronous” course refers to an online course that is conducted without any synchronous (or real time) activities. No campus visits are required. The instructor and students are not required to be logged into the course at the same time. However, this is not a self-paced course. Much like a face-to-face course or synchronous online course, an asynchronous online course includes significant structure, deadlines and course learning outcomes that must be met in a set period of time as outlined on the course syllabus. These courses also include substantive instructor-initiated interaction with and among the students.

In an asynchronous course, students complete blocks of assigned materials at a time of the student’s choosing prior to the established due dates defined within the syllabus. These activities might include watching pre-recorded videos, completing online interactions/simulations, participating in discussion forums based on prompts from the instructor, and/or responding to questions that have been designed by the instructor to check the understanding of key concepts.

On your WVU course schedule, a synchronous online course will likely show:

  • NO meeting days or times (or TBA)
  • Campus and building location as “Online”

The following is an example of what a synchronous online course might look like.

Screenshot of what a asynchronous online course might look like

Related questions:

What is the final exam schedule?

An updated final exam schedule is available on the Office of the University Registrar's website.

What should students do if faculty require physical attendance as part of the grade?

In some classes, such as labs and clinicals, physical attendance is necessary to achieve the course learning goals. However, if the student qualifies for a University-approved absence, like isolation or quarantine, the instructor cannot lower the student’s grade and must provide alternate means to meet the course learning outcomes. Please review the University attendance policy.

When does spring semester start?

The spring semester 2021 semester will begin 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.

Where can faculty get classroom seating arrangements in order to create seating charts?

Seating charts are available for all instructors based on their room assignments. They will be able to write the student’s name in each seat, and the charts will be adjusted for social distancing with chairs grayed out. For instructions, including where to submit completed charts, see COVID-19 Assigned Seating and Attendance Tracking.

Why are students in some programs at Health Sciences remaining on site?

Didactic portions of programs have been moved online, but the Health Sciences campus is unique in that many future healthcare providers are being trained here. To move into their respective professions, some students must have in-person, hands-on training and experience. Some skills can be simulated, but others must be done in person. Instructors are ensuring students are receiving the curriculum to which they enrolled, regardless of program or modality. Students are also encouraged to speak with their supervisors about what they need to feel safe.

Why did WVU cancel spring break?

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.

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 and mask/face covering 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.

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. Visit graduation.wvu.edu for more information.

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.

Related questions:

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 instructors be notified if a student is isolating or quarantining?

It is the student's responsibility to let instructors know they will not be attending class and work with them to make arrangements to keep up with classwork. If the student has any in-person classes as part of their course schedule, the Office of the Provost will send a notification letter to their instructors informing them there has been a COVID-19 related event.

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

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?

WVU released 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 students be able to choose their seating assignment for in-person classes?

In most situations, students will be allowed to choose their seats on the first day of class. Once seats have been assigned, students will be expected to remain in those seats for the remainder of the semester.

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 undergraduate students be able to do research in labs?

We have developed plans that allow undergraduates to work in research labs under the guidance of their departments/programs, both to support others' research and to conduct their own where it is necessary to their programs in their program. Each program/department will have information on exactly how this will happen. Please contact your instructor and/or program for more information.