In-person classes and college sports are both off the table for students at West Chester University until mid-2021, the university announced in two statements this week.
As a precaution against the coronavirus pandemic this fall, West Chester students are mostly in virtual classes, with a limited number of courses in a hybrid model (a mix of in-person and online). The university now says because of uncertainty about testing and vaccine availability, the mostly virtual courses will continue into May 2021 using Zoom, Skype and other tech platforms.
“There is not enough information on the availability of rapid testing or a vaccine on a sufficient scale for us to be confident enough to announce and plan for a spring semester that includes a return to in-person instruction,” university President Christopher Fiorentino said.
After the announcement about remote instruction, the school's athletic department announced that West Chester's Division II teams will not compete for the rest of the 2020-21 academic year.
The Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference - of which West Chester's Golden Rams are a part - canceled fall sports in July, but left the possibility of spring sports on the table.
The conference has a tentative plan to get participating schools back to competition in January, according to the Indiana Gazette.
West Chester's announcements said their decision would help "get ahead of [a] predicted second wave" of the virus as the weather gets colder. Cases are already spiking in West Chester Borough, mostly among renters ages 18-22, who are likely students. The borough issued rules on gatherings and masks that could result in a $300 fine if broken.
The university is providing tuition and fee credits to students this fall and will again in the spring, Fiorentino said. In the fall, those credits reduced bills for meal plans, university-owned housing, and other fees by 50%. Students in dorms run by a university-affiliated nonprofit were advised to work out a refund independently.