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Campus Updates

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Please see below for this week's updates. Please be sure to review this information in its entirety. These information is sent out via email to provide the campus community with updated information on fall 2020 operations and procedures.

Use of Face Coverings Clarified

Campus leaders have clarified the expectations on use of face coverings on campus. Face coverings are required in all classrooms, inside all buildings and in outside campus settings where physical distancing isn't possible.

Learn More

Updated COVID-19 Work and Leave Provisions Effective August 12, 2020

As of today, 'mandatory' onsite employee designations are discontinued. Faculty and staff working onsite will no longer require 'mandatory' designations.

More information

Biltmore Park Fall Operations & Procedures

Details for Biltmore Park fall operations and procedures can be found on the Fall Operations webpage.

Parking Update: Construction near Scott & Walker

Effective Thursday, August 13, 2020, HFR parking lot #1b and a section of University Way near Scott and Walker Halls will be closed for construction. Balsam lot #17 will become a two-way road for traffic.

Outdoor Warning System Malfunction

On August 11, 2020, the campus Outdoor Warning System malfunctioned, resulting in the activation of its warning sirens multiple times. The cause of the malfunction is believed to be electrical in nature, and the issue is currently being resolved. Until repairs are completed, Emergency Services will continue to use its emergency notification tools Rave, Alertus and the LiveSafe mobile safety app as necessary.     

Catamounts Care

Our Catamounts Care public health campaign reminds us that we each have a personal responsibility for actions that may affect our own health and the health of our friends, our colleagues, and the broader campus community. WCU has developed a set of community standards to encourage everyone to put the well-being of themselves and others top of mind.

Read the community standards.

Distribution of Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment has been distributed to offices, including faculty offices, and buildings across campus.

More information

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Please see below for this week's updates. Please be sure to review this information in its entirety. These information is sent out via email to provide the campus community with updated information on fall 2020 operations and procedures.

COVID-19 Related Protocols for Employees and Supervisors

Human Resources has consolidated available guidance and protocols related to COVID-19 into a single document for employees and supervisors. Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the information.

Madison's Knowledge Base Updated with Fall Operations Information

Madison, the chat-bot in myWCU, is now ready to answer questions related to fall operations and WCU's ongoing COVID-19 response. Please share this information with others.

Catamounts Care

Our Catamounts Care public health campaign reminds us that we each have a personal responsibility for actions that may affect our own health and the health of our friends, our colleagues, and the broader campus community. WCU has developed a set of community standards to encourage everyone to put the well-being of themselves and others top of mind. Read the community standards

Academic Space Updates to be Completed by 8/7

Room layouts and signage will be updated in classrooms and other academic spaces by end of day on August 7th. New classroom capacities, along with updated layouts and room photographs are being updated in 25Live as they become available.

More information

Cat-Tran Operations

Cat-Tran shuttles will operate at 50% capacity to facilitate physical distancing. Shuttles will be wiped down with disinfecting wipes on a routine basis and passengers and drivers will be required to wear a face covering at all times. Eating and drinking will not be allowed on the shuttles.

Distribution of Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment has been distributed to offices, including faculty offices, and buildings across campus.

More information

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Please see below for this week's updates. There are a number of new decisions and additional information provided this week; please be sure to review this information in its entirety. This information is provided the campus community with updated information on fall 2020 operations and procedures.

Paid Administrative Leave Reduced

Effective August 1, 2020, UNC System COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave (PAL) will be discontinued for employees who are not expected to report to a University worksite but cannot telework because their position and duties cannot be performed remotely and for child care after exhausting FFCRA leave. UNC PAL was previously available for these situations at one third pay.
More information

CatCard Operations

The CatCard office is open by appointment only. Resident students who submitted their photo in myWCU will receive their CatCards during move-in. Commuter students and others who need CatCards can make an appointment to pick up new cards.
More information

Hours of Operation: August 1 - 9, 2020

Access to campus buildings will begin to increase starting this weekend as the University prepares to welcome back students for the beginning of the 2020 fall semester. A.K. Hinds University Center and Brown Hall will be accessible to members of the on-campus community beginning Saturday, Aug. 1. Access to other campus buildings, such as academic and student services buildings, will return on a staggered scheduled as we move toward the first day of fall classes.

Business Services

  • CatCard: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm by appointment only
  • Financial Aid: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm via phone 828.227.7290
  • Parking Operations: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm 
  • Student Accounts: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

Student Services

  • Advising: Monday-Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm 
  • Bookstore: Monday - Thursday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm and Friday - Saturday 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
  • Campus Recreation and Wellness: Closed
  • CatTran: Monday - Thursday 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Friday-Sunday 8:00 am to 10:00 pm
  • Center for Career and Professional Development: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm | virtual appointment preferred or call 828.227.7133
  • Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning: Monday - Friday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Counseling and Psychological Services: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm | appointment required 828.227.7469
  • Dining Services: visit Dining's website for the most current information 
  • Health Services:  Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm | appointment required 828.227.7640
  • Hunter Library: visit the Library's website for the most current information
  • IT Help Desk: Monday - Friday 7:30 am - 6:30 pm 828.227.7487; Self-Service Portal
  • Math Tutoring Center: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm | tutoring services will be online
  • Office of Accessibility Resources: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm 
  • Ramsey Center: Closed | WCU Athletics Ticket Office is open Monday  - Friday via phone 9:00 am – 5:00 pm or by email at athleticstickets@wcu.edu 
  • Residential Living @ Brown Hall - Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Student Mail Room: Monday - Friday 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
  • Technology Commons: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm | appointment required
  • University Center: Sunday - Saturday 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Writing and Learning Commons: Monday - Friday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm | beginning 8/17 all student services will be online

Field House Lot Move-in Check-in

  • Monday - Thursday 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Friday - Sunday 8:00 am - 10:00 pm

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

COVID-19 Testing & Contact Tracing

The university has been developing protocols in consultation with Jackson County Department of Public Health officials for diagnostic COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. University Health Services will administer COVID-19 diagnostic tests based on CDC criteria and will implement screening guidelines. Patients will be required to call Health Services (828.227.7640) before visiting the Bird Building. Testing is also available from local health care providers. WCU will support and cooperate with Jackson County Department of Public Health’s leadership on contact tracing. 

More information

Bookstore Fall Operations* & Rental Textbook Pick Up

Resident Students

Students who live on campus will pick up their rental textbooks on their scheduled move-in day by following signage marked 'residential student' to the Bookstore. Students who move in after the Bookstore is closed should visit the store the next morning. Residential students who move in without an appointment will need to follow the textbook pickup process for commuter students.

Commuter Students

Students who live off campus will begin their rental textbook pick up by going to the third floor of the University Center to pick up their personal protective equipment (PPE). After getting their PPE, students will visit a check-out station for rental textbooks in the UC. Visiting this check-out station puts students in a queue and gives Bookstore staff time to prepare their books for pickup. After visiting the UC, students will then walk to the Bookstore and receive their books by following the signage marked 'commuter student.'

*Please note that face coverings are required in the Bookstore. Those who do not wear a face covering may be refused service and asked to leave.

More information on Bookstore operations

Update from Catamount Athletics:

Catamount Athletics welcomed back a limited number of student-athletes in sports that have NCAA-permissible summer access last week. Those student-athletes, as well as coaches and staff who work in the closest proximity with those individuals, were initially screened and tested for COVID-19 by health care professionals from Harris Regional Hospital.

Seven out of 145 (4.83%) tests administered returned positive results for COVID-19 – which closely aligns with the current average locally within Jackson County for positive cases (4.15%) and is below the current State of North Carolina average (8%) – with each result coming from asymptomatic individuals;

All individuals who tested positive, and those identified as close contacts using the CDC definition for contact tracing, have been quarantined as per protocols and measures outlined in CDC guidelines.

Classroom Updates for Physical Distancing

As part of our preparations for August, the Provost's Office has partnered with Facilities Management, Institutional Planning and Effectiveness and the Registrar's Office to ensure faculty and students can return to classrooms (including at Biltmore Park) that accommodate the need for physical distancing. 
More information

Fall Tuition Bills

Fall tuition bills have been released to students via their myWCU accounts. For additional information on fall billing, please visit the fall billing page.

Distribution of Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment has been distributed to offices, including faculty offices, and buildings across campus.
More information

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Please see below for this week's updates. This information was sent out via email to provide the campus community with updated information on fall 2020 operations and procedures.

Human Resources Update

The Return to Work Guide and Employee Resource Webpage have been updated to incorporate the latest guidance from the state of North Carolina and the UNC System Office. Updates include:

University Forum

The Staff and Faculty Senates hosted a Summer Forum Zoom Webinar on Friday, June 26. With 400 audience members and a panel of 15 administrators, the session was fast-paced and covered many topics related to worksite operations and campus response to COVID-19. Read more and watch the forum.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 

Personal Protective Equipment

In early July, faculty and staff will receive bags with personal protective equipment (PPE) including reusable cloth face coverings, refillable personal hand sanitizer dispensers and disinfecting wipes. Students will receive similar bags with PPE supplies at the beginning of the semester. Building coordinators are being contacted to establish a plan to distribute the PPE bags in a way that meets the needs of occupants of each building. In addition to providing PPE supplies to individuals, public hand-sanitizing stations will be available at the entrance to each building and sanitizer refill stations will be placed across campus. The university also intends to establish procedures for departments to resupply disinfecting wipes when needed.

learn more about PPE on campus

Resupply of PPE during the Fall Semester

It is our intention to provide an inventory of PPE to allow departments to maintain a four- to six-week supply of departmental-sized hand sanitizer dispensers and canisters of disinfecting wipes at a centralized location. Facilities Management will work with departments to identify contacts who will be authorized to order supplies. Supplies will be stored in the Facilities Management warehouse.

Communication to Students Regarding Fall Instructional Modality

As has been announced, fall courses will be taught using a variety of methods. This includes face-to-face, online and a mix of online and face-to-face. Course schedules have been updated to reflect any changes that faculty may have made to the planned instructional mode of their course sections.

Please note: Emails will be sent to students June 27-28 with information regarding their fall schedules.

New Cleaning Protocols

Facilities Management will be implementing new cleaning protocols to meet CDC sanitization guidelines. In accordance with these guidelines, every room on campus has been inventoried and classified by type to determine sanitization needs and the methods necessary to meet these requirements.

There are numerous variations of sanitization protocol for the numerous room types, from classrooms to residence hall bathrooms, from athletic training rooms to wet lab space, etc. Housekeeping staff will be augmented with temporary workers so additional staff can be deployed during the business day to continuously sanitize high-traffic areas. Second shift housekeeping staff will also have additional sanitizing duties each evening. An outsourced service for rapid response COVID-19 sanitization is currently being solicited. We expect to utilize this service for quarantine areas as well as any other area deemed necessary. 

The enhanced sanitization plan will go into effect in late July. The room inventory spreadsheet will be available on the fall operations website for those who would like more information on the cleaning protocols for the various spaces on campus.

Campus Signage

Signage to support physical distancing will go into production and installation the week of Monday, June 29. It is anticipated that the signage installation will continue through mid-July.

Once the initial set of signage has been installed, Facilities Management staff will accept additional requests for special-use signage on a case-by-case basis. Primary signage includes banners, ground decals, location-based signs in all buildings, Cat Tran signs and the like.

Catamount Dining has also released plans for traffic management in Courtyard and Brown dining halls. These maps are available on the dining operations page.

Catamounts Care: Public Health Awareness Campaign

In support of our new Community Standards, the university has developed a public health awareness campaign, Catamounts Care.

Communication for the campaign will include social, print, digital, video and radio. A toolkit will be developed that will allow campus communicators to download print and social media assets. Messaging for the campaign distills the Community Standards into actions that we all must take to keep our community well and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We know that Catamounts do care, and we encourage everyone to put the well-being of themselves and others top of mind.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Please see below for this week's updates. There are a number of new decisions and additional information provided this week; please be sure to review this in its entirety. This information is provided here and via email for the campus community to stay updated with the latest information on fall 2020 operations and procedures.

Community Standards Released

Shared community standards remind us that we each have personal responsibility for actions that may affect our own health and the health of our friends, our colleagues, and the broader campus community. Our collective acceptance of this shared responsibility will be the most effective strategy we will have at our disposal in the challenging months ahead. We have developed a set of standards to encourage everyone to put the well-being of themselves and others top of mind.

Read the standards

Campus Events & Activities

WCU is making plans for the fall semester with the goal of reducing exposure to and spread of COVID-19, and this includes canceling some significant events and implementing changes to other campus activities. These changes are motivated by available guidance for configuring large venues and limiting mass gatherings to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

Read cancellations/changes to campus events and activities

Changes to Dining on Campus

Catamount Dining has the daily mission of delivering thousands of quality meals to students, faculty, and staff. With this mission in mind and given the COVID-19 pandemic, dining at WCU will look very different in the fall. Like most changes related to COVID-19, patience will be required as we work through how service is delivered while meeting applicable recommendations to reduce risk in dining facilities.

Read more about dining on campus

Residence Hall Agreement Updated for 2020-2021

Following the end of spring semester and learning from the complicating factors surrounding COVID-19, the it became apparent that WCU needed to modify the 2020-2021 Residence Hall Agreement.  Universities across North Carolina are updating their housing agreement and Western Carolina University is no different. Students will be given until June 30, 2020 to opt out of their room agreement.

Read more the updates to the room agreement

Human Resources Training Videos Available Online

Human Resources, along with campus subject matter experts, recently offered five sessions on topics centered on navigating changes at WCU related to COVID-19. The Q & A sessions were offered via Zoom and the recordings are now posted to the employee resources website.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Athletics and Campus Signage  

Western Carolina University is continuing to develop plans for the fall 2020 semester and the student experience through an inclusive decision-making process. These decisions are guided by science and data, grounded in our core academic mission with consideration for the well-being of our community. These emails are to provide our students, faculty, staff and community updated information on fall 2020 operations and procedures.

Student Athletes and Athletics Events

As a part of the on-ongoing campus discussions surrounding the fall 2020 semester, Catamount Athletics is making plans for a return to intercollegiate competition beginning in August 2020.

WCU Athletics will begin a phased return of student-athletes to campus in Cullowhee beginning July 6 in advance of the fall 2020 semester;

The return includes football and men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes first during the summer months as each of those sports has permitted summer access activities per the NCAA. Those three teams will be followed by a regular return date for those sports with preseason dates before the start of school in the fall semester;

WCU Athletics’ plan includes resocialization measures and daily protocols for each student-athlete, coach and staff member such as temperature checks and screening by athletic training staff before gaining access; the use of hand sanitizer; social distancing when available; and the use of face coverings indoors in common areas, during workouts, and in locker rooms, as well as accounting for proper cleaning and sanitizing for each facility;

Athletic performance strength and conditioning indoor activities will be conducted in groups of 10 while outdoor activities will be limited to 25, as per North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's guidelines. Athletic training and rehabilitation exercises will be by appointment and will also adhere to the 10-person indoor limits.

More information

Campus Signage for Social Distancing

A Signage Working Group has been created to develop consistent and sensible requirements, procedures and protocols for COVID-19 campus signage and barriers. Campus signage and barriers are to educate, promote safety and protective measures, and to assist with social distancing guidelines while continuing to protect the building and its occupants and meet all regulatory requirements.

  • The goal is to have signage in place for the start of Fall Semester 2020 (by August 1).
  • Messaging of the signage templates aligns with CDC regulations and university branding.
  • Additional information will be available after the working group’s next meeting on June 18th.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Quarantine Location, Move-in, Personal Protective Equipment and Study Abroad

Western Carolina University is continuing to develop plans for the fall 2020 semester and the student experience through an inclusive decision-making process. These decisions are guided by science and data, grounded in our core academic mission with consideration for the well-being of our community. These emails are to provide our students, faculty, staff and community updated information on fall 2020 operations and procedures.

Quarantine Location Designated

We have designated Madison Residence Hall as a location where residential students may safely quarantine if they test positive for COVID-19. Madison Hall has a relatively small number of student rooms, and its location on the hill area of campus would keep any students who have tested positive away from the bulk of the student population while allowing them to continue their studies and receive campus services.

Move-in

The fall 2020 opening of the residence halls has been redesigned in response to COVID-19. While the first day of classes is still scheduled for August 17, the residence halls will begin allowing students to move-in on August 1. Students will be required to sign-up for the day and time they want to move into their building. There will be a limited number of spots available per building per session, to allow for appropriate social distancing throughout the process.
More information

Personal Protective Equipment

Western Carolina University has developed a plan for providing the campus community with personal protective equipment:

  • WCU intends to provide the campus community with reusable face coverings, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to open the fall 2020 semester.  Procurement of these items is in process.
  • During the summer months, the university has disposable face coverings, large containers of hand sanitizer and large containers of disinfecting wipes available to those campus departments that desire to have them provided.  These items are limited in supply. Please submit any requests for these items to your department head who can then request the supplies through a Facilities Management work/service request.

Study Abroad

  • Inbound and outbound study abroad programs have been suspended for fall 2020.  Participation in study abroad for spring 2021 is a tentative option for students.
  • Faculty-led programs have also been suspended for fall 2020.

Friday, May 29, 2020

From Chancellor Kelli R. Brown

To the Western Carolina University community:

I write to share important details about the academic calendar and strategy for instruction for the upcoming fall semester. These details are part of a comprehensive and evolving plan for the fall 2020 academic experience that is being developed by a working group in the Division of Academic Affairs led by Interim Provost Richard Starnes and based on guidance from the University of North Carolina System. The plan is being created with the anticipation that we will be utilizing a variety of instructional arrangements with student success, faculty expertise and flexibility, and staff support to guide us. I stress that all plans for resumption of operations for fall 2020 may very well shift in response to changing conditions. The last few months have taught us that information and responses to new data about COVID-19 require a high level of flexibility and patience.

Below are some important dates that will serve as significant mileposts for the fall semester:

  • First day of classes will be Monday, August 17
  • Labor Day holiday on Monday, September 7, will be observed
  • The last day to withdraw from a class and receive a “W” will be Friday, October 23
  • Advising Day will be held Tuesday, October 27
  • Last day of face-to-face classes will be Friday, November 20
  • Classes on Monday, November 23, and Tuesday, November 24, will be held online
  • Thanksgiving break for instruction will be Wednesday, November 25, through Friday, November 27
  • Final exams will be held online between Monday, November 30, and Friday, December 4
  • The winter break will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, December 4
  • We anticipate commencement ceremonies will be held Saturday, December 12, for the spring 2020 graduates (rescheduled from May) and Sunday, December 13, for the summer and fall 2020 graduates

Instruction for fall 2020 will be offered through a blend of face-to-face, online, hybrid, and hybrid course delivery. There will be no fall break this year, and all final exam week activities will be conducted via online or other alternative formats.

This schedule maximizes instructional time in the early fall and minimizes the opportunities for students, as well as faculty and staff, to travel away from campus on extended breaks. This strategy should reduce exposure to and spread of coronavirus. It also should align the academic calendar in such a manner as to avoid a densely populated campus in late fall and early winter, when the potential for a significant resurgence of the virus may be highest. Any potential changes to the 2021 spring semester will be announced in the weeks to come.

We will continue to refine the many details associated with bringing students, faculty, and staff back to campus. To assist in keeping the campus as fully updated as possible, we have established a website for fall 2020 operations, where many of the detailed plans for resuming operations will be posted or summarized. In addition, we are initiating a regular system of campus updates that will contain important announcements as decisions around fall operations are made. Look for those updates in the coming weeks on subjects including residential living, dining, student move-in, large campus gatherings, and athletics events.

I want to remind our campus community that, as we prepare for students to return to campus, we also have begun a phased return to the workplace for our dedicated faculty and staff. With guidance from the UNC System, we have prepared a “How to Return to Work Safely” guide that was sent to faculty and staff last week.

Thank you again for your efforts on behalf of our students and our university over the past few months, a time that has been disruptive to all members of our community. I feel confident that I can continue to count on your hard work, your commitment, and your flexibility as we handle the many tasks associated with the summer sessions and work toward a successful fall semester.

Please be safe and be well. And, as always, go Cats!

Sincerely yours,
Kelli R. Brown
Chancellor

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