Spring 2021 General FAQ
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.
We cannot ignore the potential danger of bringing thousands of students back to campus for face-to-face instruction. Continuing remote instruction for the spring 2021 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. NEW 10/7/20 Will there be a shortened semester to reduce the possibility of an outbreak on campus?
The fall semester began as scheduled on August 24 with remote instruction and has been 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.
The Spring 2021 academic calendar will not change. The academic calendar can be reviewed here.
3. NEW 11/20/20 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 spring 2021 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, more than $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 Spring 2021, which will lower the total cost of tuition and fees.
- On average, for a full-time in-state undergraduate student, the total for tuition and fees for spring 2021 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 spring 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 spring 2021 pandemic-specific adjustments are part of an overall investment of more than $25.5 million dollars from the University for this academic year.
- Students can expect to see their bills in myWCU by Wednesday, December 9, 2020.
UPDATE 11/20/20: 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 Spring 2021 semester, eligible full-time WCU undergraduate students will be able to take advantage of up to 6 “free” credits during the upcoming Summer 2021 sessions or the Winter 2021 session, depending on their total number of spring 2021 credits. As full-time tuition costs are the same for 12 to 18 credits in WCU’s spring semester, undergraduate students taking 12 credits in the spring will be able to take an additional 6 credits in the Summer 2021 sessions or the Winter 2021 session without being charged tuition. Similarly, undergraduate students taking 15 credits in the spring will be able to take an additional 3 credits in the Summer 2021 sessions or the Winter 2021 session without being charged tuition.
Cleaning and sanitation efforts throughout campus have been increased to meet appropriate CDC guidelines.
5. 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 spring?
All students and employees must wear face masks on campus. The University has provided or will provide 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 that covers both the nose and mouth 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 have been upgraded with technology (audio and video) to allow for concurrent in-person and remote learning wherever possible.
- Space barriers (roll-up or rigid) have been installed in offices where in-person visits are required.
- Sanitizing stations have been installed in common areas (lobby, lounge, corridors, entrance foyers).
- Signage has been installed across campus to encourage social distancing both inside buildings and outside.
The University has decreased the number of staff on campus on any given day. Using a rotation schedule, we have worked to ensure that we are providing in-person service while providing for social distancing for our employees.
All faculty office hours and student advising will continue to be conducted remotely (i.e. Zoom meetings).
All non-instructional meetings between faculty, staff, and students will continue to 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 are in place for non-instructional student facilities (i.e. Sykes Student Union, Student Recreation Center, etc.). Resources and guidelines have been 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 are 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.
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.
Public events, except those that will be held virtually, are cancelled for the fall, winter, and spring terms. 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.
At the urging of Council of Trustees Chairperson Senator Tomlinson, West Chester University will be reconsidering our status for spring athletics. We will be seeking additional updates from PSAC, our athletic conference, and the NCAA regarding the status of championships and testing protocols as part of that reconsideration. Once we have received an update from PSAC, we will be in a better position to provide more detailed information.
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.
The University is committed to providing an on-campus commencement/graduation experience for the spring and winter Class of 2020. At this point in time, we are allowed to host outside gatherings no larger than 250. Based on this stipulation we are working on a plan for smaller outdoor ceremonies to be held in April 2021. The University will determine which dates are viable and will inform our graduates at least 45 days prior to the ceremonies. A similar plan will be devised for our 2021 spring graduates.
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.