College announces plans to return to on-campus classes

June 27, 2020

WISE — University of Virginia’s College at Wise Chancellor Donna Henry announced June 18 that the school has the intention to move back to on-campus classes starting in the fall of 2020.

But, the college is also prepared to move back to virtual classes if another spike in COVID-19 should occur.

Henry also spoke about extra precautions for students including personal protective equipment provided by the college as well as extra cleaning methods and hand sanitizer being readily available in all areas.

The 2020-21 academic year is slated to start earlier than normal on Aug. 12 with the intention of completing the semester on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The weeklong fall break has also been removed in order to allow the classes to end sooner and reduce exposure. In its place, the students will have a long weekend. This will hopefully keep the students on campus and reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19.

If a student does test positive for the novel coronavirus and is asymptomatic, one of the residence halls will be designated as a place for quarantine.

Most classes will be eight weeks long and class time will be extended according to Tricia Folds-Bennett, the school’s new provost. According to Folds-Bennett, studies show shorter courses and longer class periods of concentrated learning benefited students in the long run.

Employees should return to campus on July 6 and that includes the campus food service contractor, Chartwells. The Chick-fil-A franchise, which is also operated by Chartwells, could reopen as early as the middle of August.

Henry and Folds-Bennett spoke about mapping out classrooms at UVA Wise to see which ones could conceivably be used in implementing the six-foot social distancing requirement. Professors will also be provided the ability to teach their classes online if they have health concerns or are high-risk.

Despite the pandemic, Henry said the enrollment number of first-time freshmen and transfer students is “ahead of the five-year average.”

A student orientation is currently scheduled for June 26.