West Chester University, the largest of Pennsylvania’s 14 state-owned universities with nearly 18,000 students, has switched to online learning for the Fall Semester due to a spike in COVID-19 cases nationally.
West Chester had prepared for a mix of in-person and remote learning but WCU president pointed to new coronavirus cases as the reason to keep students off campus.
Here’s an excerpt from a message from WCU president to students and parents:
Dear WCU Community,
As many of you are aware, the latest national data is currently showing a significant spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks, and hot spots have spread to more than 40 states. Today, the U.S. surpasses three million cases of the coronavirus and reports more than 60,000 new cases in a single day. WCU cannot ignore the potential danger of bringing thousands back to campus. Accordingly, our plans for the fall semester must adjust to this new reality. My leadership team and I have made the decision to continue remote learning through the fall 2020 semester, with a few courses delivered in a hybrid format, meaning both in-person and remote, in order to assist those students with clinical placements, student teaching, performance obligations, internship sites, and similar academic responsibilities.
Continuing remote instruction for fall 2020 will ensure that our students’ educations will be uninterrupted as they earn credits required for academic degrees. Know that faculty and staff will continue to be accessible and highly committed to student success. In fact, we have added a number of enhancements to help students excel despite the effects of COVID 19. The following are among the tools and strategies that we have added to support students during this unprecedented time:
- We have implemented a technology lending program, including laptops, webcams, and mobile hotspots for students without access to Broadband Internet.
- We have enhanced remote student support through our Student Success Coordinators and Student Success Coaches.
- We have created online training modules focused on assisting students with the transition from in-person classes to remote learning.
- We have transitioned all student support services to remote delivery, including additional tutoring and supplemental instruction for specific courses.
- We have partnered with key software providers to ensure home access for students.
- We have increased advising outreach by faculty to support student success.
- We have shifted the University’s library services from mostly in-person support to remote delivery, including the mailing of library materials to students’ homes.
In addition, as Chester County is presently in a Green Phase, our public buildings will be open and will be limited to 50 percent capacity. This means that Sykes Student Union, the Campus Recreation Center, FHG Library, and several other buildings will be open for use and are currently being readied in ways that will foster and promote active social distancing.
The revised fall schedule will reflect a majority of classes that will be available solely by remote instruction. A few courses will be delivered in a hybrid format, meaning both in-person and remote, to assist those with clinical placements, student teaching responsibilities, internship arrangements, performance obligations, and similar requirements.
The University understands that students’ lives have been turned upside down by a relentless pandemic that continues to sweep across the globe. Our support for our WCU community will not waiver. We will continue to be here for all and will help students cross the finish line in whatever way we can.