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Public Health Common Questions

These questions supplement What You Need to Know: Public Health and Safety, 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 masks required to be worn outdoors as well as indoors on campus?

Masks and face coverings are required on all WVU campuses at all times in all public places, except when eating.

Related questions:

As an on-campus instructor, should I encourage students to download the NOVID app?

Use of the app is completely voluntary, but encouraged. The NOVID app detects when a user is close to other NOVID app users. If someone reports as positive in the NOVID app, all other users who have been in close contact will receive a notification, encouraging them to self-isolate or get tested even before they experience symptoms. Although WVU will not receive any information from the app, it allows users to take precautions to keep themselves and those around them safe.

Can I quarantine in my residence hall room?

Yes, if you're asked to quarantine because you are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, follow these steps to quarantine in your residence hall.

Can students sit with friends in the dining halls and food courts?

Yes, as long as they practice appropriate physical distancing, and if not eating, wear a mask.

Related questions:

Do I really have to wear a mask in class?

Yes, research has shown that the virus can spread quickly in close quarters. Wearing a mask prevents you from spreading the virus. It is important to remember that carriers often spread the virus before they exhibit any symptoms. The University is asking for your cooperation for the safety of faculty, staff and students. Instructors can request clear masks to use in conjunction with the plexiglass shields in front of the lectern to improve intelligibility.

Instructors should refer to the guidelines for ensuring safe classroom behavior for the University's approved COVID-19 syllabus statement and guidance for setting classroom expectations and handling disruptions.

Students should review the Student Health and Safety Policies for additional expectations.

Related questions:

Do students have to wear masks in the dining halls and food courts on campus?

Yes, as they move about the space to get their food and when they leave. However, no, when they are sitting at tables eating, while also practicing appropriate physical distancing. Where possible, seating will be arranged so that physical distance exists between tables. Where that is not feasible, plexiglass dividers or other steps still under review will be taken.

Related questions:

Does "out of state travel" apply to employees who live out of state?

Anyone traveling domestically outside of West Virginia is subject to a 5-day self-quarantine/self-monitoring period. This does not include commuting to work for employees who live out of state.

How can I report an off-campus party?

To report a large gathering or a house party close to campus, you can notify University Police by calling 304-293-COPS. In addition, you can report the incident anonymously through the LiveSafe app. Click “report incident,” select “other” and include information in your tip such as the location, time, approximate number of people, etc. If more information is needed, University Police dispatchers may ask you follow-up questions through the app, as well.

How often should masks be changed out?

As long as a mask does not become damp or wet, it will protect you from COVID-19. If it does become damp or wet during the day, it's important to swap it out for a new, dry mask; there will be locations across campus to pick up a disposable mask in these cases. It's best to wash your mask each evening, and you can do it simply via hand washing with soap and warm water. Let the mask air dry overnight so it can keep its shape and last longer. You can also wash it via washer and dryer with detergent. Consider having a few masks/face coverings to ensure you have a clean mask each day. When taking off your mask to eat on campus, consider bringing a paper bag to safely store it in.

This question was answered by Dr. Clay Marsh during the July 9 Return to Campus Conversation on Public Health and Safety.

How often will employees and students get tested?

In addition to testing symptomatic individuals, WVU is sample testing certain groups of students, faculty and staff to quickly assess and limit the potential spread of COVID-19.

Individuals who may be asked to participate in sample testing include students with in-person classes, those living in residence halls and University Apartments, those participating in athletics, those in the performing arts, specific faculty and staff populations and random samples of students and employees — regardless of whether they have a known exposure or are showing symptoms of COVID-19.

Some of these groups (e.g., student athletes, resident assistants and residence hall coordinators) may be asked to complete testing on a weekly basis based on their potential exposure to COVID-19.

Learn more about sample testing.

Faculty and staff who work on campus and would like to be tested more often can choose to schedule a COVID-19 test weekly at myhousing.wvu.edu.

Free community testing is offered each Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Student Rec Center.

Spring Semester Return to Campus Testing The University will require COVID-19 testing for all students and employees who are returning to the Morgantown campus for the spring semester.

Students, faculty and staff who are required to be tested will receive an email in early to mid-December from CovidTesting@mail.wvu.edu with instructions to register for testing.

How will the University enforce the mandatory mask protocol for contractors and vendors visiting WVU buildings? What can I do if I see them not following the guidelines?

Vendors and contractors are required to follow appropriate guidelines for suppliers. If you witness instances of non-compliance, please contact the Procurement, Contracting and Payment Services team at pcps@mail.wvu.edu or 304-293-5711.

How will the University enforce the social gathering limit when it comes to on- and off-campus parties and gatherings?

Gatherings on campus are currently limited to 10 people. WVU will have University staff in residence halls and apartments to ensure guidelines are being followed. These WVU staff members will receive backup support from University Police, if necessary.

Off campus, local law enforcement will make sure that gatherings comply with current limitations. Since Sept. 11, the City of Morgantown has prohibited parties and social gatherings at residential units in certain areas of the city. Students who break the rules will be subject to the Office of Student Conduct.

Related questions:

How will we know how COVID-19 is affecting the University community as the semester progresses?

Our public health partners will work with our Public Health Task Force in identifying the number of positive cases and potential spread of the virus in the community. That information will inform the actions the University must take to keep campus safe.

You can follow WVU's testing results, self-reported positive cases and quarantine and isolation information at COVID-19 testing dashboard. You should remain alert to campus communication with critical information about COVID-19.

How will you ensure that students are following CDC guidelines when they are off-campus or outside the classroom environment?

WVU cannot ensure that students will comply with these requirements at all times. This is why we believe that knowledge about COVID-19 is so critical and are requiring the whole WVU community to complete the COVID-19 education course. Public health research shows that individuals have a higher likelihood of complying with safety guidelines when they understand why they are in place and the benefits of compliance as well as the risks of noncompliance.

How, when and where will tests for COVID-19 be conducted? Will I have to pay for them? How will I learn the results?

Since WVU completed its Return to Campus testing, we have been increasingly focused on testing anyone who reports symptoms of COVID-19, students who have been identified as close contacts of positive cases, and those living in residence halls or are involved in activities that may lead to a higher risk of spread (for example, activities involving singing or instrument playing or physical contact and athletics).

The University anticipates conducting between 2,000 to 2,500 tests a week.

For more about our ongoing testing, the testing procedure and how results are communicated, see What You Need to Know: Testing.

Related questions:

I have health conditions that make me more susceptible to serious effects of COVID-19. Are there extra precautions I can take part of to avoid exposure and limit contact with others?

Currently, medical conditions that necessitate reasonable accommodations related to COVID-19 are being addressed as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accommodations. In accordance with the ADA Amendments Act, certain factors do not meet the definition of a disability. Reasonable modifications will be determined on a case-by-case basis. When applicable, other provisions may run concurrently with accommodations, such as FMLA, FFCRA, leave and other University programs. In these cases, employees will be referred to WVU Medical Management.

If you are an employee and have questions or need accommodations, faculty and staff are encouraged to contact coronavirusmodification@mail.wvu.edu. More information can be found at WVU Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion's ADA Coronavirus Modifications website.

Students with questions related to accommodations and the Coronavirus should contact the Office of Accessibility Services at 304-293-6700. More information is available at Accessibility Services.

I think I was exposed; can I request a test?

Check What to Do If: You May Have Been Exposed to COVID-19 for guidance.

I was in close contact with someone who recently tested positive for COVID-19. We weren't wearing masks and were within 3 feet of each other for over 15 minutes. What should I do?

You must quarantine if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have had direct contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Until a formal case investigation and contact tracing can be completed, all those who are known or suspected to have been in close contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 should undergo a 14-day quarantine/self-monitoring period.

In these situations, close contact includes having been within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

All WVU community members are required to report if they test positive for COVID-19 or are quarantining due to suspected or known exposure to COVID-19. Students should notify the WVU CARE Team, and employees should notify WVU Medical Management.

I've already had COVID-19 and recovered. Am I now immune to the virus? What if I still test positive or exhibit new symptoms?

At this time, we do not know if someone can be re-infected with COVID-19. Data to date show that a person who has had and recovered from COVID-19 may have low levels of virus in their bodies for up to 3 months after diagnosis. This means that if you have recovered from COVID-19 and are retested within 3 months of initial infection, you may continue to have a positive test result, even though you may not be spreading COVID-19.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 do not need to quarantine or get tested again for up to 3 months as long as they do not develop symptoms again. People who develop symptoms again within 3 months of their first bout of COVID-19 may need to be tested again if there is no other cause identified for their symptoms.

Until we know more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all people, whether or not they have had COVID-19, continue to take safety measures to avoid becoming infected with COVID-19 such as wearing a mask, washing hands regularly and staying at least 6 feet away from others whenever possible.

If a student or employee has one mild symptom of COVID-19, should they make the decision not to go to class/work or consult with WVU Student Health or a primary care physician first?

Students and employees should follow the guidance at What to Do If: You Have a Minor Symptom and are Expected on Campus.

Related questions:

If I am approved to not wear a mask for ADA reasons, how will others know?

While you may not be wearing a mask, gaiter or other traditional protective equipment, you'll still be asked to wear some sort of protective equipment, like a face shield. Students should contact Accessibility Services, and employees should contact their supervisor for assistance with alternatives.

If one student in a class tests positive, will all students in the class have to quarantine?

Only those who have been within close contact of a person who tests positive will be asked to quarantine. Close contact is defined as having been within 6 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.

Related questions:

Language in the University’s new daily wellness survey has been updated to provide more clarity for people with pre-existing conditions whose normal symptoms may resemble those of COVID-19.

You are now asked whether you have experienced the new onset of a symptom that cannot be attributed to another health condition (such as migraines, allergies, etc.) or that may have been caused by a specific activity (such as physical exercise).

If you experience any symptoms that may be related to COVID-19 and cannot be attributed to a pre-existing health condition or a specific physical activity, you should not come to campus. The first thing you should do is contact your primary care physician or WVU Student Health. They will determine if your symptoms warrant quarantining and will discuss next steps.

If students have symptoms similar to that of COVID-19 due to seasonal allergies, stress and anxiety or menstruation, what should they do?

If anyone has symptoms of COVID-19, even if they are common to the person due to other established health issues, you are still recommended to call health experts to determine the next step. For students, call Student Health at 304-285-7200. For employees, call WVU Medicine’s COVID-19 phone number at 304-598-6000 (Option 4).

Is COVID-19 treatment covered by the student insurance plan offered by WVU?

Yes.

Is the NOVID app mandatory?

No, but WVU is encouraging the voluntary use of NOVID, a symptom-monitoring mobile app that will allow users to proactively make decisions based on their risk of infection.

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.

West Virginia has guidelines on how many people can gather. Is WVU going to use those as guidelines as well?

On Sept. 7, WVU reduced on-campus gatherings to 10 people or fewer until further notice. The University previously had observed West Virginia's statewide guidelines.

Additionally, since Sept. 11 the City of Morgantown has prohibited parties and social gatherings at residential units in certain areas of the city.

Protect yourself and others by avoiding the Three Cs: Close, continuous contact with others, Crowds and Close spaces. WVU encourages everyone stay physically distanced at least 6 feet, wear mandated face coverings and follow proper hand hygiene while around others.

What are the ADA compliant alternatives for those who can’t wear a mask?

We are recommending face shields and surgical masks for students, faculty and staff who cannot wear a mask.

Related questions:

What are the chances that a test could result in a false positive?

False positives are rare. The test only indicates infection at the time of testing. Students, faculty and staff will be asked to monitor conditions and consult with Student Health or their provider if they develop symptoms.

What are the long-term effects from getting the disease?

Healthcare providers and scientists still aren't sure what the long-term effects will be for those who recover from COVID-19. Research is ongoing at many universities and academic medical centers around the country, including at WVU.

What are the University's overall COVID-19 test results?

We're providing updated WVU System test results every weekday.

What if I don’t or can’t wear a mask?

Students who are unable to wear a mask for medical reasons, which will be the only exemptions allowed, should contact the Office of Accessibility Services via email at Access2@mail.wvu.edu for possible arrangements. Faculty and staff who want to seek a modification should contact coronavirusmodification@mail.wvu.edu to discuss their needs

What if I test positive and isolation isn’t possible (sharing a residence hall room or small apartment where isolation isn’t possible)?

WVU has established newly renovated space in Arnold Apartments for residence hall students to self-isolate. See What to do if: You test positive and live in a residence hall for more. In the event that moving to another location is not possible, arrangements may be made for your roommate(s) to move temporarily or support will be provided for you to self-isolate in your own space as safely as possible.

What information is available about vaccines?

Flu vaccines are currently available for students and employees. WVU Medicine employees will be required to obtain a flu vaccine and will be notified by WVU Medicine Employee Health. Students can contact WVU Student Health Services, and employee should contact their primary care provider. WVU Medicine's drive-thru flu vaccinations (appointment required) continue through Nov. 14. Flu vaccines are also available at local drugstores.

When a COVID-19 vaccine is available, additional information will be shared.

What resources are available for students struggling with mental health issues during quarantine?

Many resources are available to student, including the Carruth Center and its satellite office serving Health Sciences, BeWell. More information will soon be available from the Office of Health Promotion and Wellness as well.

What’s the difference between isolation and quarantine?

The University uses the terms “isolation” and “quarantine” for those who have COVID-19 related matters.

Isolation is avoiding contact with others for at least 10 days after your testing date, as directed by the local health department. You are likely in isolation because you've tested positive for COVID-19, and this isolation period will separate you from others who may not be sick to help stop the spread of COVID-19. If you live in a residence hall, you will move to Arnold Apartments. If living off campus, you stay away from others by using a separate living space. You should not leave this isolation space at all during the 10-day period. You are not allowed on campus for class or work at any point during this period, and you must remain in isolation until you are medically cleared.

Quarantine is avoiding contact with others to the furthest extent possible for the next 14 days, as directed by the local health department. You are likely in quarantine because you’ve been considered a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and this quarantine period separates and restricts the movement of those exposed to COVID-19 to stop the spread of the virus. If you live in a residence hall, you will quarantine in your room and may only leave it to use the restroom throughout this time; meals will be provided. If you live off campus, you should stay away from others by using a separate living space. You should not be on campus for class or work at any point during this period. If you begin to feel ill and develop symptoms of COVID-19, you should call your primary care physician or WVU Medicine Student Health at 304-285-7200.

Related questions:

Where should I go if I want to be tested?

Free community testing is offered every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Student Rec Center. No appointment is necessary. For more, see Testing: Students or Testing: Employees.

Other free testing opportunities are available through West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources partnerships. To learn more about upcoming testing opportunities, visit the Free COVID-19 Testing site.

If you're experiencing symptoms or think you've been exposed to COVID-19 ... Students should contact WVU Student Health or contact your primary healthcare provider. Employees should contact WVU Medicine or your primary healthcare provider.

Who came up with the definition of a close contact?

WVU follows the guidance provided by the CDC on close contacts.

Why are classrooms reduced by 50%?

Classes are reduced to 50% capacity to follow physical distancing guidelines and reduce the possibility of spread.

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 do I have to quarantine but my roommate does not?

You have been asked to quarantine because you’ve been considered a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19. This is a precautionary measure to keep you and others who were exposed to COVID-19 as safe as possible. Your roommate may not have had close contact with someone who tested positive, so they do not need to quarantine. At this point, the risk of your roommate contracting COVID-19 is low as long as everyone is following the COVID-19 safety protocols. If you test positive when retested, your roommate would have to quarantine at that point. Also, if you or your roommate feel ill and develop symptoms of COVID-19, your roommate should quarantine and call WVU Medicine Student Health at 304-285-7200.

Why do I need to be tested when I return to campus?

It's important that WVU establishes a baseline of disease prevalence on campus. The best way to do this is testing when students, staff and faculty return to campus. This will allow the University to monitor trends throughout the semester as testing continues.

Why doesn't WVU give students the end date for quarantine?

Your quarantine or isolation release date will be provided during a phone call with a WVU Shared Services care agent.

Add WVU Shared Services — 304-293-1003 and 304-293-6006 — to your phone contacts. Care agents will contact you to discuss quarantine protocols, symptoms and testing, which can determine your quarantine release date. It's important to answer or promptly return calls from WVU Shared Services.

Why is a quarantine period longer than an isolation period?

WVU is following the CDC guidelines and timelines for isolation and quarantine. It can take a person anywhere from 2-14 days to experience symptoms or develop the infection, so a person must quarantine for 14 days. It has been found that a positive person is no longer contagious beyond the 10-day period, likely because they had it a few days prior to being symptomatic, so they must only isolate for 10 days.

Will bus capacity be reduced to comply with physical distancing protocols?

Yes. WVU buses are operating at approximately 50% capacity, and riders sit in a checkerboard pattern to comply with physical distancing requirements. Riders are expected to follow the bus safety guidelines.

Visit the Transportation and Parking website for the WVU bus schedule and WVU bus routes that will be operating this fall.

Mountain Line bus schedules are available on busride.org.

Will students and employees be able to travel?

WVU strongly discourages any student or employee from personal travel to locations other than their home and campus. The University also strongly discourages students and employees from hosting visitors from other locations. Visit What You Need to Know: Travel for current travel guidelines.

Will temperature checks be done at entrances to buildings, offices, classrooms, etc.?

Temperature checks will not be part of the everyday campus experience for most faculty, staff and students. Some units with unique risks associated with their operations, such as Dining Services, may establish more stringent access controls, including daily temperature checks and health status questionnaires before reporting to work.

Will WVU provide flu shots this year?

Yes. WVU Medicine (which includes WVU Student Health) will be providing flu shots on campus, as well as at a drive-thru location at the University Town Centre clinic.

For more information, including times, dates and how to register, visit Talent and Culture's Fall 2020 Flu Vaccination page.