WVU imposes COVID-19 fee for untested students
- WVU recently announced it will require all returning students to be tested for COVID-19.
- Students who do not adhere to the new guidline will be fined $250.
West Virginia University Dean of Students Corey Farris announced that students returning to campus for the upcoming fall semester are required to take a COVID-19 test. Further, amid ongoing economic hardship for millions created by the pandemic in addition to rising tuition costs, those who do not receive a test will face monetary penalties.
This comes as an updated rule to the dean's previous letter from June 23 where he described that campus would remain at full capacity with some minor cosmetic differences.
The school’s testing penalty states that “For students who need to complete the COVID-19 test, failure to be tested by Aug. 22 will result in a $250 fee being added to a student's account and they will not be permitted to attend classes on campus. They will also be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for follow-up. Students will be given an opportunity to explain any extenuating circumstances for their non-compliance. Follow-up actions will be based on the particular situation for each student."
The only students who will be allowed to go test-free are those solely taking online classes.
For those students who are found to be positive with the coronavirus, WVU said that officials from the local health department will begin an investigation and begin contact tracing the individual. Along with requiring a positive individual to self-quarantine for 14 days, any suspected person to have been in contact with the individual is also recommended to self-quarantine.
WVU took to Twitter to share the announcement and received backlash from alumni, one of whom wrote, “As a proud Alum I am deeply disappointed in WVU. I appreciate the planning however, it is not realistic to being [sic] the students back. Honestly think about what you are saying and analyze that again. You’re jeopardizing the student and native population.”
Failure to take the COVID-19 test or complete the education module by the deadline will result in a $250 fee added to student’s account. Those who don’t complete one of these requirements will be referred to Student Conduct for additional penalties, including potential expulsion.— WVU Mountaineers (@WestVirginiaU) July 21, 2020
Another Twitter response called out WVU, appearing to be referring to after students are tested and return to campus: “What’s the fine when a student or employee is asymptomatic and then spreads COVID-19 on campus for a week or more? It’s almost like there’s zero critical thinking going on here."
While students are facing fees and disciplinary action, employees could face the same action.
The new letter adds, “Employees who fail to take the COVID-19 test by Aug. 22 will be subject to employee disciplinary actions until they take the test, including, but not limited to, being placed on administrative leave without pay and/or being placed on administrative leave while using their annual leave.”
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Legal Fellow David Hudson told Campus Reform that, "a reviewing court would probably find that the school had a compelling interest in the health and safety of students and that this measure directly advances that compelling interest."
“In other words," Hudson added, "there might be great deference given to school administrators in light of the fact that we are in a pandemic. I do think, however, that the fine is pretty harsh and there would need to be some exemptions or considered exemptions."
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