Update from the President
Dear Campus Community,
I write to you today with a heavy heart. Today’s results of our weekly surveillance testing came with disappointing news. Sadly, five campus community members – a staff member and four students –have tested positive for COVID-19. With cases rising throughout the nation, we know it is inevitable that we will have positive tests, but it still makes days like today challenging to bear. Be assured we acted swiftly, began to immediately close and clean areas affected, and quarantine individuals. As our protocols dictate, we immediately shut down the McDonough Center and Business and Financial Aid offices to clean and disinfect. I am grateful to Mr. Jim Burton and the Housekeeping Staff for their dedication to keeping this campus safe, and always immediately reacting to address the needs a positive case demands.
Additionally, the Business and Financial Aid offices began working remotely from home today and will continue to do so until further notice. Individuals working in those offices will be available via email should you have questions or need assistance. Those students affected will either return home to quarantine or be quarantined on campus. Students Services will ensure that meals will be delivered three times a day to any student quarantined in the residence halls.
I think it’s important for me to say — this is no one’s fault. I had members of this community worried they have or had put others at risk. We all come to campus each day to serve the students entrusted in our care and do everything to keep students, faculty, and staff safe and healthy. It’s heartening to see the love and concern this family has for each other. Today was frightening, and my heart goes out to all. I trust you will all join me in keeping all of our students and staff who have been affected in your prayers.
However, today’s situation should serve as a wake-up call for all of us. Now more than ever, with cases on the rise, we need to double down and follow ALL of our protocols. That means – wearing your mask inside buildings, offices, hallways, or classrooms. I cannot stress how important it is that masks are worn by everyone. Additionally, keep washing your hands often, using sanitizer, and practice social distancing.
It is equally important that everyone sign the visitor’s log when they enter offices on campus, and we have an accurate roll call of students in classes. Having practiced this protocol, an immediate accurate list allowed us to begin contact tracing today. If someone does not sign the visitor sheet inside an office, I call on staff to ask that person to sign the sheet and include the reason for the visit and the date and time.
Out of an abundance of caution, and in consultation with Student Services and the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department, the University has decided to cancel its planned Halloween costume celebration for tonight. Additionally, I ask our students to stay on campus this weekend and not attend any Halloween gatherings off campus. Remember, your actions can impact the health of all members of our University. Your safety and well-being are tremendously important to me, your family, and your friends.
As many of us feared, the Coronavirus continues to be a risk to all of us at Wheeling University.
After consultation with senior leadership and with deep regret, we are removing Spring Break from the academic calendar for the Spring Semester. Instead, there will be three instructional break days where there will be no classes on February 3, February 25 , and April 23. This approach will keep our community together throughout the semester and reduce travel-related exposures. Please know this will not impact the Spring Academic Calendar start and end dates. Also, Easter Break will not be affected by the change either. The University is exploring whether to keep students on campus during Easter Break.
Sunday is All Saints’ Day when we recall and thank God for the many holy men and women in our lives and ask them for prayers and other assistance. All Saints Day is a holy day of obligation for Catholics. Mass will be offered at the 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. in Mary and Joseph’s Chapel for members of the University community.
Monday is All Souls Day when we continue an ancient Christian and Jewish practice of praying for all who have died and may still need assistance. Wheeling University maintains a tradition common at Catholic and Christian schools and churches by soliciting the names of deceased loved ones to be prayed for at all masses throughout November. All students, faculty, staff, and alumni are invited to submit names for our prayers to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, the campus community members can write names on a piece of paper and place the paper in the basket inside the Chapel. All Souls Day Mass will be celebrated at 12:10 p.m. Monday in the Chapel.
Let me end this week by once again thanking this family for its resolve during these uncertain times. The Fall semester is not what any of us had envisioned. As we count down to Thanksgiving break, it is so vital that we keep wearing masks, washing our hands, and continue social distancing. Your actions and adherence to our policies will keep our campus safe. I as that the Wheeling University community, in this difficult time, help support and lift one another up. In this time of darkness, let us choose to be the light for others.
Ginny R. Favede
President, Wheeling University