HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall University is set to begin a fall semester unlike any other on Monday during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After hundreds of students moved to campus in a staggered fashion the past week, not all will be taking part in in-person lectures. Jaime Taylor, the Provost and Senior VP of Academic Affairs at Marshall, told MetroNews only select courses will not be held virtually.
“We are trying to have some face to face experiences for our freshman,” he said. “Additionally, our science labs, engineering labs, studio courses, and clinical classes will work to be face-to-face.”
Taylor said Marshall has allowed sophomores and juniors to stay on campus but all of their courses not in specialized programs will be virtual.
There are 3,700 courses this fall at Marshall, Taylor said, with around 400 of those being done in a typical online setting. Taylor said that is around 100 more than usual.
The remaining courses will be done virtually through live platforms such as Zoom. Taylor said Marshall students, faculty and staff all asked to face-to-face learning and this is the closest option.
Marshall has added learning hubs with internet throughout campus for students to use on those virtual courses.
“The vast majority of the faculty here at Marshall is creating those courses. That way students still have that live interaction with the faculty member,” Taylor said.
Officials with the institution expect a drop of around one-third of students being in the Huntington area for the semester.
Taylor said the plan in-place all summer for Marshall, including a small option of in-person lectures and mandatory face coverings, has helped the university move forward this fall. He compared Marshall being in a good place for the semester compared to universities across the country who have brought everyone back for in-person courses before changing to all online.
“By scaling back quickly, it has helped our faculty members prepare. Most of them will have lectures that are virtual. The faculty has been preparing for that most of the summer,” he said.
The fall semester will end in a non-traditional way with the final week of courses and finals week going virtual.
“When students go home for Thanksgiving we will not have them come back after Thanksgiving,” Taylor said.
“The concern is if they go home and are with family, we don’t want to take a chance on someone coming back with COVID-19.”