Get Ram Ready
We are ready!
As the COVID-19 pandemic persists and we continue to strive for the noteworthy goal of reopening Shepherd University to our students, staff and community, we realize that the next several months will have to be different. Safety first – strength, compliance and resilience will lead to our success, and every person will be responsible for the outcome. According to experts, the vaccine to stop the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is on the horizon – and life as we remember it will return to normal in 2021. Without question, we will have learned a great deal throughout this journey – especially about ourselves.
Shepherd University’s Campus Health Task Force has been meeting daily since January 2020 to address all aspects of the adverse effects of COVID-19. We established a website with pertinent health-related links to help inform our campus and local community about best practices for safety, together with information about the number of COVID-19 cases throughout West Virginia, the country and the world. Our FASTEnER Lab has produced 3,000 PPE face shields for first responders and other frontline workers, in addition to working closely with the National Guard in developing the N-95 mask model selected for mass production.
Our academic leaders have developed a strategic plan for instructional delivery, which consists of a thoughtful hybrid model of in-person and online modalities – in order to de-densify the number of individuals in a classroom allowing us to follow social distancing guidelines. Everyone on campus is expected to wear a face covering. All facilities are disinfected daily; mandatory daily health screening is in effect; helpful signage directs the flow of traffic within buildings to respect social distancing; hand sanitizers are readily available throughout buildings on the campus; air handling systems are being modified to block the potential airborne distribution of the virus; the fall semester with in-person instruction will occur between August 24 and November 24, followed by students returning home to take their final exams online. Residential halls will host one student per room, unless two students request to room together and follow safety guidelines. Most importantly, contingency plans have been made for quarantining students, if that becomes necessary.
The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference voted to suspend all mandated conference athletic events and championships through the fall semester in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference has already undertaken a full review of its ability to shift fall sports competition and championships to the spring semester and fully intends to do so if a return to competition can be safely executed. Although we are very disappointed that our student-athletes will not be competing in athletic events this fall, we appreciate the thoughtful deliberations based on scientific evidence that led to this critical decision. The safety of our students, coaching staff, fans and community is most important, and our athletes will continue to condition and train until it is viable to return to NCAA competition.
We are most fortunate that Shepherd University resides in Shepherdstown – not only is it the oldest town in West Virginia but also the most progressive. We collaborate closely with the community in sharing knowledge, resources and goodwill. Many members of the community have helped us with our plans to reopen, and we greatly appreciate their kindness. Shepherd’s faculty and staff are ready to help our students resume their education. In one month, all of our plans and precautions will be implemented – to train the next generation of leaders and model citizens. Should there be another pandemic, our students will know what to do because of what we have been through together.
Stay safe – Stay well – Stay informed. Shepherd University is here for you!
Mary J.C. Hendrix, Ph.D.