Updated: December 1, 2020

General FAQs

1. What preparations have been made by WCU to handle COVID-19?

West Chester University continues to take all necessary steps to protect the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff as we closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and around the world. We continue to follow the guidance of global, national, and local health and government officials.

With the latest national data showing a disturbing spike and spread in coronavirus infections across the country, we cannot ignore the potential danger of bringing thousands of students back to campus for face-to-face instruction amidst the virus’ dramatic resurgence. Continuing remote instruction for the fall 2020 semester will ensure that our students’ education will be uninterrupted as they earn credits required for academic degrees. A few courses will be delivered 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. Faculty and staff will continue to be accessible and highly committed to student success.

2. Will there be a shortened semester to reduce the possibility of an outbreak on campus?

The fall semester will begin as scheduled on August 24 with remote instruction and will be modified by moving Fall Break from October 12-13 to November 23-24. Classes resume remotely on November 30 with finals slated to begin on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.

NEW 3. Are there steps that the university is taking to provide financial relief for students given the continuing impacts of the pandemic?

  • Yes, we are keenly aware of the financial challenges students are facing as a result of the pandemic. For that reason, we are providing additional financial support for all of our students this semester.
    • For the upcoming academic year, WCU has already invested over $5 million in scholarships and grants to increase affordability and access
    • As part of that, over $1.1 million has already been dedicated to out-of-state students
    • In addition, we are providing a COVID-19 relief credit to both in-state and out-of-state students, full-time and part-time, for fall 2020, which will lower the total cost of tuition and fees, but will not negatively affect a student’s current financial aid eligibility.
    • On average, for a full-time in-state undergraduate student, the total for tuition and fees for fall 2020 will be reduced from $5,235 to $4,666, a savings of 11%.
    • On average, for full-time out-of-state undergraduate students, who pay a much higher rate than in-state students, the total for tuition and fees for this fall will be reduced from $11,147 to $8,649, a savings of 22%.
    • The same pattern will be applied for graduate students and will produce similar savings. 
    • Finally, we are also waiving the Distance Education fee for all programs, which will result in additional savings for students who have typically pursued online degrees at WCU. 
    • These fall 2020 pandemic-specific adjustments reflect an investment over $11.5 million dollars from the University. 
    • We have held off on sending bills until we could put these reductions in place, but students can expect to see their bills in myWCU by Friday, July 24.
  • Beyond providing financial savings for students, in support of the University’s goal of all undergraduate students completing at least 30 credits per academic year in pursuit of finishing in four years, for the Fall 2020 semester, eligible full-time WCU undergraduate students will be able to take advantage of up to 6 “free” fall credits during the upcoming 2020-2021 winter or summer sessions. As full-time tuition costs are the same for 12 to 18 credits in WCU’s fall and spring semesters, undergraduate students taking 12 credits in the fall will be able to take an additional 6 credits in the winter or summer sessions without being charged tuition. Similarly, undergraduate students taking 15 credits in the fall will now be able to take an additional 3 credits in the winter or summer sessions without being charged tuition.

4. Will I receive a refund for dining, traditional University or USH housing?

The University will make adjustments to dining. WCU Traditional Housing and USH Affiliated Housing will apply an adjustment to the fall accounts where applicable. For specific housing information, click here.

5. What has the University done to sanitize the campus?

Cleaning and sanitation efforts throughout campus have been increased to meet appropriate CDC guidelines.

6. What measures will be in place to ensure the health and safety of the students, faculty, and employees who have to be on campus this fall?

All students and employees must wear face masks on campus. The University will be providing all students and employees with two WCU reusable face masks.

West Chester University has aligned and is consistent with local, state, and federal public health guidelines and recommendations to provide a safe environment for those who return to campus, including some staff and faculty, as well as students who return to campus to live in campus housing, and those who are on campus for labs, internships, clinicals, etc. Everyone on campus must wear a face mask and practice six feet of social distancing as directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH).

The University will continue enhanced sanitization, enhanced social distancing and technology upgrades.

  • Cleaning and sanitation efforts throughout campus have been increased to meet appropriate CDC guidelines.
  • Classrooms are being upgraded with technology (audio and video) to allow for concurrent in-person and remote learning wherever possible.
  • Space barriers (roll-up or rigid) are being installed in offices where in-person visits are required.
  • Sanitizing stations are being installed in common areas (lobby, lounge, corridors, entrance foyers).
  • Signage is being installed across campus to encourage social distancing both inside buildings and outside.

The University will decrease the number of staff on campus on any given day. Using a rotation schedule, we will ensure that we are providing in-person service, while providing for social distancing for our employees.

Fall Break will move from October 12-13 to November 23-24. Classes resume on November 30 with finals slated to begin on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.

All faculty office hours and student advising will be conducted remotely (i.e. Zoom meetings).

All non-instructional meetings between faculty, staff, and students will be conducted remotely (i.e. Zoom meetings). CDC as well as Commonwealth phased opening guidelines for other gatherings will be followed, and we will update the campus community as these guidelines evolve.

Social distancing measures and guidelines will be in place for non-instructional student facilities (i.e. Sykes Student Union, Student Recreation Center, etc.). Resources and guidelines will be provided for students to utilize spaces on campus that follow CDC guidelines, according to the phases of opening directives from the state at that time. Facilities like the library, Sykes Student Union, and the Student Recreation Center will be operating at lower capacities to comply with state and local health guidelines. Large gatherings and events will continue to be significantly curtailed through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NEW 7. Are visitors allowed on campus?

While Chester County is now in the green phase of reopening, visitors to campus in public spaces are required to wear a mask and follow all University guidelines for social distancing.

8. Will events go on as normal this fall?

Public events, except those that will be held virtually, are cancelled for the fall term. CDC as well as Commonwealth phased opening guidelines for other gatherings will be followed, and we will update the campus community as these guidelines evolve.

9. Will athletic events be held?

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference will suspend all mandated conference athletic events and championships through the fall semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All fall and winter sports scheduled to begin before January 1 are suspended.

The Conference has reviewed its ability to shift fall sports competition and championships to the spring semester and fully intends to do so if a return to competition can be safely executed.

The Conference will evaluate the necessary schedule changes and will communicate its plans for moving all competitions to the spring semester at a later date.

The determination as to when winter and spring sports may begin workouts and practices will be considered at a later date.

NEW 12/1/20 10. Will the alternative grading option once again be available for fall classes?

The University understands that impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated and, in many ways, has increased in its disruption since the start of the fall semester. We realize that the stresses of this reality are causing students to be more anxious and stressed than ever before.  When we implemented the COVID-19 grading policy this past spring, we found that students ultimately ended up performing better when compared to previous springs semesters. Many of us believe that this was because the policy provided students with the opportunity to focus on learning instead of worrying so much about their grades.  It is in this context that we are announcing that the COVID-19 Alternative Grading Policy adopted for the spring 2020 semester will be applied to the entire 2020-2021 academic year (fall 2020, winter 2020/21, spring 2021, and summer 2021 terms).

Our shared governance groups have come together to support the adoption and implementation of this policy, and we could not be prouder of the faculty and staff who worked to author this document. From a procedural perspective, this was approved by the Curriculum and Academic Policies Council Executive Committee, a group empowered to make decisions between the body’s Assembly meetings. The University’s primary shared governance leadership was also consulted, including the President of the WCU Chapter of APSCUF, the Faculty Senate President and Immediate Past President, and the Chair and Co-Chair of the Council of Chairs.

Highlights of this policy can be found on the 2020-2021 Academic Year COVID-19 Alternative Grading Policy page. 

Faculty-awarded grades will be visible to students by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, December 16. Students will have until by 12 p.m. (noon) on Monday, December 21 to make their alternative grade selection. After 12 p.m. all selections will be final.

The grade selection tool is available beginning on Wednesday, December 2 until 12 p.m. (noon) on Monday, December 21. Instructions for selecting an alternative grade option can be found here. If a selection is not made for a course, option 1 will be auto-selected.

11. NEW When will Commencement/graduation ceremonies occur?

Despite an unyielding pandemic, WCU wishes to give its graduates a traditional purple-and-gold ceremony that will celebrate their many successes in a safe way for all to enjoy.

In keeping with the same proactive strategy pursued by Governor Wolf to help protect the health and safety of Commonwealth residents, West Chester University’s formal commencement ceremonies scheduled for the weekend of December 13, 2020, will be postponed until the spring. We are encouraged by the governor’s updated guidelines for safe gathering in Pennsylvania that currently limits outdoor occupancy to between 15% and 20% of maximum capacity. Given these guidelines, WCU will be able to accommodate at least 200 graduates per each formal commencement ceremony held in Farrell stadium, with graduates being allowed to have six guests each. Provided that this guidance for the Commonwealth continues into the spring, the University is planning dates for a series of alternate commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 to be held outside in late March and April. (Please know that spring and December commencement ceremonies will remain separate events.) Graduates will have at least 45 days prior notice before a ceremony is rescheduled. Ceremonies will be smaller to allow for social distancing and no additional costs will be charged to the graduates.

Graduation Application Fee

Students pay a $99 Graduation Application Fee when they apply to graduate, which partially covers the costs associated with the activities related to not only the ceremony itself, but also other related items such as the caps, gowns, diplomas, and their covers. While the Graduation Application Fee does not cover all of the costs associated with graduation and commencement, the University does wish to recognize the impact of the decision to postpone our commencement ceremonies. It is in this spirit that we have decided to temporarily reduce the fee by 50%, which is in keeping with our other refund decisions. We believe this is the fairest thing for our students who are experiencing feelings of disappointment related to this particular impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please note: You do have to pay the $99 fee up front and then you will be refunded.

If you are signed up to receive direct deposits, the refund will be deposited into your designated bank account. If you have not already signed-up to receive direct deposits, we strongly encourage you to enroll in direct deposit through myWCU. Failure to enroll in direct deposit may delay your refund due to the generation and mailing of a paper refund check to your home address of record.

Caps and Gowns

We still would like all graduates to have their cap and gown delivered to them by the end of the semester. You may submit your cap/gown order with Oak Hall Cap and Gown at https://wcupa.shopoakhalli.com.

Please submit your order by November 27, 2020, to be sure it arrives by December 13, 2020. All caps and gowns will be shipped, free of charge, to the address that you provide Oak Hall Cap and Gown.

Diploma Covers
Like the cap and gown, we want all graduates to have their diploma covers delivered directly to them prior to December 13; therefore, all degree covers will be shipped to the home address we have on file. By November 6, 2020, please update your address on your myWCU account.

Additional questions
If you have additional questions, please email commencement@wcupa.edu.

12. NEW 11/13/20 Is WCU doing any on-campus Covid-19 Testing?  

Student Health Services tests students who are symptomatic or have a known exposure to a person confirmed with Covid-19. If a Student Health medical provider determines the criteria is not met, students may be referred to off-campus testing options. 

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