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West Virginia University pushing learning online over coronavirus

March 11th, 2020 by WCBC Radio

West Virginia University will temporarily suspend in-person classes once students return from spring break late this month as it continues to monitor the threat of the new coronavirus in a state with no confirmed cases.

The move includes Potomac State College in Keyser.

The university is calling off classes for a week after students return. Then, starting March 30, students will be offered online instruction or other alternative learning options, the university said in a statement Tuesday night.

West Virginia University has nearly 27,000 students on its Morgantown campus and 31,000 systemwide. The statement said the decision was made out of an abundance of caution. WVU is concerned about students, faculty and staff who are returning from the weeklong spring break, which starts Saturday.

“The University takes seriously its responsibility to protect our campuses during this uncertain time,” WVU President Gordon Gee said in a letter to the university community.

As of Tuesday, West Virginia has tested five people for the virus, with three negative results and two tests pending, officials said.

Gov. Jim Justice said last week that the state can now conduct its own coronavirus tests, after previously having to submit tests to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The university said students should take essential items with them when they leave. The university is providing a checklist and other information at www.housing.wvu.edu.

Unless approved, WVU has suspended university-related international and domestic travel through March 30.

The new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms for most people, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. In mainland China, where the virus first exploded, more than 80,000 people have been diagnosed and more than 58,000 have so far recovered.

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