METRONEWS - For the most part, students at West Virginia University Parkersburg won’t be back on the Wood County campus when the 2020 Fall Semester begins on August 17.

Chris Gilmer, president of WVU Parkersburg, announced the decision to go with virtual classes, with some exceptions, for the duration of the semester during an online town hall event on Friday.

He addressed those watching, “Students, faculty, employees, community members, how can I look you in the face, as your president, and tell you that I love you and then put you in harm’s way by bringing a thousand people or more into our physical facilities every day this fall?”

Gilmer cited rising COVID-19 case numbers in recent weeks in West Virginia as a factor in his decision.

“We made no comparisons and no judgments about what any of our sister institutions in West Virginia or nationwide might do, what decisions they might make. This is a local decision,” Gilmer said.

More details about the “technology-enabled” learning at WVU Parkersburg were expected to be released.

“This spring, we were all caught off guard when we had to change everything that we did because of COVID-19 on a week’s notice,” Gilmer said.

“Today, we’re going to reclaim that narrative as a community and take it back from the pandemic and begin telling our own story in a more positive way.”

As of Friday, Gilmer said no decisions had been made about classes for Spring 2021.