In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Waynesburg University has implemented its “Keep Waynesburg Well” plan for the semester.
According to the official Keep Waynesburg Well website, the plan was created “to protect the safety of the Waynesburg University campus community and the surrounding community by addressing strategies to mitigate the risk of the spread of COVID-19.”
The Keep Waynesburg Well plan has necessitated a number of changes to the Student Code of Conduct and University policy. Masks have been mandated while on campus, and different policies have been put in place to adjust foot traffic in certain buildings in an attempt to de-densify areas and promote social distancing.
Students are expected to monitor their own health and complete daily screenings through the Apple App or Google Link and report different symptoms through a WU Screening form found on MyConnect. Relevant information is then relayed to the Health and Safety Team.
Headed by Michael Cipoletti, who is the campus COVID-19 Health and Safety Officer, the Health and Safety team manages symptoms and positive cases on campus.
“We make sure that isolation and testing protocol is initiated when appropriate, and we coordinate student health and student service responses to give the individual the support they need,” he said. “We also do contact tracing when we learn of a positive case or an exposure to a potential positive case.”
In order to limit contact with the outside community, commuters are now restricted from residence halls and other locations on campus. However, some feel that it really hasn’t changed things that much for them.
“[The new restrictions] haven’t really changed my experience that much,” Dylan Hixenbaugh, a sophomore chemistry major, said. “The one thing that I could say is that I don’t want to stay as long as I wanted to last year.”
The Keep Waynesburg Well Plan was developed over the course of the summer, as different members of faculty and staff worked together in sub teams to manage different aspects of academics and life on campus. Each team was responsible for a different aspect of campus living, and they worked together to identify different problems and find solutions to them.
“Think about subgroups working on specialized areas and reporting to another group, which then goes to the senior staff level,” Dana Baer, Provost and coordinator of Academics in the Keep Waynesburg Well plan, said. “Once the decisions are made, that’s communicated back down to those groups so they can implement them.”
One of the issues that the teams had to work through were the myriad of regulations coming from the national, state and local levels of government.
“Not only are we governed by federal law, we are also required to follow state law,” Baer said. “We are also a specialized business, so when the governor would issue guidelines and mandates that would impact businesses in Pennsylvania, that applied to us.”
In addition to coordinating with different government guidelines, Waynesburg University also worked with different peer institutions to keep track of the decisions made by other colleges and universities in the surrounding area.
The University partnered with the Washington Health System, and is working closely to help monitor daily screenings and provide assistance on other health-related matters.
As the University continues to monitor and follow these guidelines, Baer maintains a positive attitude.
“It’s positive. We’re doing really good things,” she said. “We have laughed and we have prayed through all of this,” Baer said.