The 2020-2021 Academic Year: A Different World
Traditionally at the start of the fall semester, we welcome our new and returning students, faculty, and staff with a plethora of information about changes on campus. In this COVID world, however, we have to adapt to a different University experience in order for us all to protect ourselves and each other and stop the spread of the virus.
First, know that our faculty and staff continue to be accessible and are highly committed to student success. Many offices that directly serve students are being staffed, albeit with a reduced number of employees and/or with altered hours. Whenever possible, the best option for assistance is remote consultation by email, phone, or Zoom.
Please note that administrative offices are generally operating from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. while the University is in remote status.
For the most up-to-date information, visit the WCU Takes Action RE Covid-19 website and the FAQs pages for regular updates. These pages include information on cleaning and sanitizing protocols as well as academic and student life details.
The University is abiding by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s guidelines for everyone in public to wear face masks that cover their noses and mouths. In Pennsylvania, masks must be worn whenever anyone leaves home. That means that everyone on campus must wear a face mask. The University is providing all students and employees with two WCU reusable face masks.
Well prior to the pandemic, the Facilities Division had already installed wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispensers in more than 300 locations across campus. To combat the spread of COVID-19, Custodial Services has added sanitizing stations with both wipes (for use on hard surfaces, door handles, etc.) and hand sanitizer dispensers to every classroom and the common areas of office suites. All individuals occupying those spaces are encouraged to use these products when they enter those areas, including prior to the beginning of each class.
Also remember that proper and frequent hand washing is the best way to combat the virus.
Signage has been installed both inside and outside buildings across campus to encourage social distancing; to remind the campus community of the need to respect one another’s health and safety; and to discourage gathering in crowds in hallways, stairwells, and building entrances.
Being cast into a remote learning environment can be an opportunity for our faculty to show their ingenuity and for our students to shine in bringing their 21st-century savvy into their assignments.
A few courses will be delivered this fall in a hybrid format (both in-person and remote) in order to assist those students with clinical placements, student teaching, performance obligations, internship sites, and similar academic responsibilities. This includes courses for which the University is required to have students engage in person to meet state licensure requirements.
WCU professors are using a variety of instructional approaches this semester to balance the needs of all students to find the best possible solutions to help them succeed in each course. Visit the Student FAQs for additional information, consult with your advisors, and take advantage of the many resources the University offers to ensure you succeed. For example, University College is a one-stop shop for student success: request a success coach, find a tutor (or apply to be one!), and find ways to advance your post-college career. The College and the Provost’s Office compiled the Rams Guide to Success, covering not only academic success but also co-curricular resources, personal, and professional development campus information and links.
Likewise, the Student Affairs division encompasses departments that help students navigate WCU and grow as unique individuals. Find all you need to succeed from their departments. Student Affairs professionals created WeCU to help students establish and maintain connections during the pandemic. The weekly Ram Roundup newsletter on WeCU lists student events as well as important resources.
The WCU campus bookstore in Sykes Student Union is open with limited capacity and social distancing guidelines in place.
This is a stressful time. Be patient, compassionate, and kind with one another.
There are numerous resources on campus and in the community if you are facing a lack of support, financial stress, depressed or anxious feelings, facing substance misuse, violence, or thoughts of suicide as a result of necessary distancing measures. As indication above, the WCU website has numerous resources to connect you to campus and community resources. If you don’t know quite where to begin, visit the University’s Student Support Center.
The Counseling Center will conduct the majority of its services remotely but can accommodate crisis intervention for any student experiencing a mental health emergency.
The Resource Pantry is open this fall with health and safety modifications. Students who need assistance locating food and basic resources in West Chester or elsewhere should contact Pam Frontino, associate director of Service-Learning & Volunteer Programs and the Resource Pantry.
If it appeals to you, check out the Center for Contemplative Studies’ recorded meditations from this spring. The center will offer Zoom programs this semester.
The Student Recreation Center is open this fall with capacity limits and health and safety measures in place. Reservations to use the facilities are required. For details, visit the rec center’s COVID-19 policies and procedures FAQ page. Questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All sport clubs have been suspended for the Fall 2020 semester.
The creative students and faculty in the Wells School of Music will continue live performances, but in a virtual format via Livestream. Visit www.wcupa.edu/arts for links and more detailed information for music, theatre and dance, and art + design events.
Students have more than 280 organizations to join, and many are active this fall, even during the pandemic. Connect with their presidents and members and see what activities are currently planned by logging into Ram Connect.
If you do have to be on campus and intend to ride the campus buses, please note that all passengers on the University shuttles must wear face masks.
The University’s shuttle bus service has been modified and will operate on a limited schedule. For the Fall 2020 semester, the University will run a limited all-stops bus service between North Campus and South Campus. The bus schedule now includes a designated “sanitizing stop” to ensure that frequent touch points are disinfected between every route.
The Facilities Department is installing more weather-protected bicycle parking. And stay tuned for a series of Urban Safe Cycling Workshops coordinated by the Office of Sustainability.
We regret that both Zagster and Zipcar have ceased operations. For other commuting options, email email@example.com.
The Office for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (ODEI) offers WCU Celebrates Diversity for All events. Among the many events offered are diverse, thought-provoking programs that are available to the WCU community as well as some that are open to the public. All fall programs are virtual and most events require prior registration. Additional programming will be posted online via the diversity events calendar. FMI: Hiram G. Martinez.
Work continues on the 175,000-square-foot Sciences and Engineering Center and The Commons in the area between Hollinger Fieldhouse and Lawrence Center. Check out the construction progress in real time at the onsite camera – and try to ignore the occasional appearances by pigeons on the ledge.