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COVID-19 Response Team Updates

An archive of messages sent from the William & Mary COVID-19 Response Team (CRT) about the university's plans and policies responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. View the 2020 message archive.

April 29 | Two Important Federal COVID-19 Updates
April 27 | Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring
April 20 | Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring
April 13 | Vaccine Update and Upcoming Census Testing
April 8 | Update on Employee & Student Vaccinations
April 2 | COVID 19 & Spring Break Update
March 26 | Addressing Increased COVID-19 Cases
March 25 | COVID-19 Census Testing Update
March 16 | Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring
March 9 | Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring
March 4 | Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring
February 23 | Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring
February 17 | COVID-19 test results may be delayed and important scheduling update
February 16 | Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring
February 9 | Updates and Highlights From COO Amy Sebring
February 2 | Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring
January 25 | Welcome and Updates From CRT
January 20 | At-will COVID-19 Testing Available Beginning January 25
January 8 | Return to Campus Testing - Spring 2021 
Two Important Federal COVID-19 Updates

April 29, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

Federal health officials on Tuesday offered two important updates that relate to colleges and universities; one on vaccination roll-out and the other on masking requirements for people who are fully vaccinated, so we wanted to address both today:

Second Doses

  • On Tuesday, the federal government asked pharmacies participating in the national COVID-19 vaccination program to administer second doses to citizens regardless of residency or where they obtained their first dose.
  • This is particularly helpful for residential college students, especially out-of-state students, who might have been waiting until they returned home to begin the vaccination process. There is no need to wait, and we encourage you to sign up for the local vaccination clinic this Friday.
  • We are offering the vaccination opportunity at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center, from 8:30 a.m-4:30 p.m. this Friday, April 30. Visit the registration site to sign up.
  • The clinic has reserved doses of the Moderna vaccine for William & Mary students, faculty and staff. Round-trip shuttles will run every 15 minutes from Sadler Center circle to the vaccine clinic. 
  • Please update Banner Self-Service now if you wish to be vaccinated through William & Mary’s coordinating efforts this semester. 

Masking Requirements for Fully Vaccinated People

  • Also on Tuesday, the CDC issued new masking guidance for fully vaccinated people, loosening some requirements, especially outdoors. As in past guidance, the CDC advice is designed to guide the behavior of individuals, not to guide institutional decisions. William & Mary is evaluating the guidance to determine how it applies here.
  • Although we have made significant progress in offering vaccines to the W&M community, approximately 40% of our students and roughly 55% of our employees report being fully vaccinated. 
  • As a reminder, the CDC considers a person fully vaccinated if at least two weeks has passed since their final dose of a one- or two-dose vaccine sequence.
  • We are encouraged by the number of students, faculty and staff who have already received one dose and others who have indicated they still plan to be vaccinated.
  • W&M will continue to re-assess the community’s progress in becoming fully vaccinated and will update our policies as appropriate.  
  • Until then, we continue to be especially sensitive to the needs of our graduating class, scheduled for in-person Commencement next month; W&M does not want to adopt new policy changes that would endanger graduation.
  • What can you do?
    • Be vaccinated against COVID-19 if you are able to. Higher vaccination rates in the university community will help us return to a more “normal” campus life.
    • Report your vaccination status through Banner Self-Service. Accurate, timely data will help W&M make confident public health decisions about masking, spacing and safely reconvening in-person work, research and study.
    • Once fully vaccinated, upload your vaccination information into the Kallaco portal.

W&M Healthy Together

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Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring

April 27, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

I write today with updates on census testing results, longer library hours, vaccination opportunities, exit-testing for this semester and looking toward the fall. 

Census Testing Results

Last week we completed census testing, with only two positive results of the more than 5,000 tests administered. The results track closely with our wastewater testing that likewise detected virus shed in just one of the 16 zones. While we aspire for those numbers to zero out entirely, the results now are remarkable, and they demonstrate how committed our students have been to placing public health front and center this academic year. I am so proud to be part of this community.  

Swem Library Hours

In response to thoughtful requests presented to us by the Student Assembly leadership, starting on Sunday, May 9, W&M Libraries is extending Swem’s hours to midnight Monday through Thursday and 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. We are hopeful that this extra time will help to ease some of the stress and anxiety that come with finals. The extended hours will run through Wednesday, May 19.

Vaccination Clinic This Friday, April 30

We are offering one more vaccination opportunity at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center, from 8:30 a.m-4:30 p.m. this Friday, April 30. 

  • The clinic has reserved doses of the Moderna vaccine for William & Mary students, faculty and staff. We will offer round-trip bus transportation from Sadler Center circle to the vaccine clinic.  
  • Please update Banner Self-Service now if you wish to be vaccinated through William & Mary’s coordinating efforts this semester. 

Exit-Testing

William & Mary is again offering free, at-will exit COVID-19 testing at the end of the semester. Right now, Health Logistics is determining how many tests to order and setting a useful timeline. 

  • If you want an end-of-semester COVID-19 test, please take a moment to fill out the Qualtrics form at COVID-19 Exit Survey. You must complete this survey by Thursday, April 29, to be eligible for a free exit test.
  • According to the CDC, you can still take a test even if you’ve been vaccinated; it will not trigger a false positive. Visit the CDC’s Myths & Facts About COVID-19 Vaccines for more information.

Virginia AG Opinion on Mandatory Vaccinations

As you might know, yesterday Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued an opinion (PDF) that public colleges and universities may require a COVID-19 vaccination for students as a condition of in-person attendance. In response, William & Mary is working with the Commonwealth’s other public institutions of higher education and public health officials in advance of the next academic year.  We anticipate updating the campus by mid-May.  For now, we continue to encourage students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated if possible.  

A Look to the Fall

The Public Health Advisory Team and COVID-19 Response Team continue to partner with state and university leaders to formulate a plan for the fall. This includes considerations such as physical classroom arrangements, course delivery methods and returning more substantially to in-person work. As we all have seen, COVID-19 conditions and guidelines shift with some frequency. Much like the fall and spring, William & Mary will phase planning in order to rapidly incorporate the latest in scientific and public health information. 

If you’re wondering how you can help shape the path forward for fall 2021, here are some ways:

  • Prioritize vaccination. Especially as we look to offer more in-person living and learning conditions, we strongly encourage everyone who can receive a vaccine to do so. 
  • Update Banner Self-Service with your vaccination status and plans. The information is not only vital to our arranging vaccination appointments for you, but is aggregated to help determine the current and future level of vaccination at W&M and hence, to effectively plan for a much more “normal” fall semester.

As always, thank you to the entire community for your support and dedication during this undesirably unprecedented year. Here’s to brighter days ahead!

Sincerely,

Amy Sebring 
Chief Operating Officer & COVID-19 Director

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Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring

April 20, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

I write today with updates on student vaccinations and the CNU vaccination clinic, accommodating vaccination schedules and side effects, and student census testing. 

Student Vaccination Updates

  • As we near the end of the semester, we recognize that many students will be leaving the Williamsburg area for the summer.  
  • We are working with the vaccine clinic at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center to offer a student clinic the week of April 26.  
    • WATA has agreed to provide free transportation from the Sadler Center to the clinic site.
  • We anticipate having 500 dedicated doses of the Moderna vaccine for students who have not been vaccinated but wish to do so.  
  • If there is sufficient student interest, we will look to do a similar number the week of May 3.  
  • If you wish to receive notice of those clinics, please make sure that you have updated your information through Banner Self-Service so we can email you as we finalize vaccine availability over the next two weeks.
  • After that date, W&M will no longer be coordinating vaccination appointments, as they have become widely available to the general public.  

CNU Vaccination Clinic Information 

With the CNU vaccination clinic changing locations and management, we have heard some questions about scheduling a second dose for the COVID-19 vaccine if you received your first dose at that location. We offer some additional information:  

  • The Virginia Department of Health will contact you regarding the scheduling of your second dose. In addition, the card provided to some recipients at the CNU vaccination clinic explaining the change can be used at other vaccination locations to schedule a second dose. 
    • These communications will likely come a few days before you become eligible to receive your second dose. Please also keep in mind that the time frame to receive your second dose is within 42 days of the first. 
  • If you get to the 28th day after your first dose and have not heard from VDH, please contact [[HealthyTogether]]. We will work to get your second dose scheduled in the required time frame. 

Accommodating Vaccination: Please Remain Flexible

  • As we continue to work through vaccinating our community, I’m asking managers to remain flexible with your team members who may need to shift their schedules to accommodate vaccine appointments for themselves and loved ones.
  • In addition, the side effects of the vaccine vary widely, so if employees need to take time off following their vaccination, this can be done through regular sick days. If employees do not have sick time available, they can use Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL). 

Census Testing & On-Going Prevalence Testing

  • A reminder that W&M is currently conducting a round of student census testing for COVID-19. We anticipate results to begin returning this evening. 
  • We plan to continue prevalence testing for employees and students through at least the end of the semester:
    • To be exempted from census and prevalence testing, as well as from quarantine requirements as a close contact, please provide proof-of-vaccination to William & Mary. 
    • To do so, upload photos of the vaccination card you received when you were administered a COVID-19 vaccine. Kallaco Healthy & Technology has introduced the ability to upload proof in the Kallaco portal.
    • If you do not have a Kallaco account, create one by choosing “Forgot Password,” and do not use your W&M password.
    • Visit the Record section in Kallaco and follow the prompts to upload a photo of your vaccination card. You must complete this upload process for each vaccine dose on your card.

I remain hopeful that the steps we are taking toward higher vaccination and lower positivity rates create a path forward for us that more closely resembles normalcy. Thank you all for your continued efforts and dedication.  

Sincerely,

Amy Sebring 
Chief Operating Officer & COVID-19 Director

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Vaccine Update and Upcoming Census Testing

April 13, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

I write today with a time-sensitive update on vaccines as well as other COVID-19-related news.  

J&J VACCINES

This morning the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that the administration of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine be paused due to what the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) notes are “extremely rare” reports of a low number of recipients experiencing blood clots up to two weeks following injection.

Effective today, W&M has confirmed that all area clinics will switch to Moderna or Pfizer until the CDC has an opportunity to further review the J&J vaccine. The CDC, FDA and VDH continue to express a high level of confidence in the efficacy and safety of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The review of the J&J vaccine reportedly has been triggered by six cases of adverse reactions out of the 6.8 million doses of J&J already administered nationwide.

The vast majority of W&M’s faculty, staff and students who have been vaccinated have received either Moderna or Pfizer. The Colonial Williamsburg clinic and the CNU clinic have been administering Moderna vaccines. Only those who were vaccinated yesterday through the York County partner clinic received J&J vaccines with W&M’s coordination. If you were among those, the CDC has issued advice on what to watch for in the next three weeks.

If you are scheduled for a vaccine today or later this week, there is no need to reschedule. Your appointment is secure, and the clinics have sufficient supply to provide you with a two-dose Moderna vaccination. 

  • If you receive your first dose this week, you will receive a card with your dose information. The card will indicate that you are eligible to receive your second dose four weeks from the date of your first dose, but that second dose can be administered up to six weeks beyond the first dose.  
  • For students who may have exams in mid-May or may be traveling home for the summer, you have some flexibility in getting your second shot. 
  • For Virginia residents, VDH has indicated that if you are not in the Williamsburg area at the time of your second dose, you will be able to present your vaccine card to other local area health districts in Virginia to schedule your second dose.
  • For out-of-state students, VDH is working with their state counterparts and federal partners, including major retail chains, to determine the best options for you to receive your second dose. You should also reach out to your home state health department for additional guidance if you anticipate not being in the local area at the time of your second dose.

VACCINE OPTIONS IN THE COMING WEEKS

With the Commonwealth increasing vaccine availability to all adults, we continue to work with our local clinics to connect as many of our faculty, staff and students who wish to be vaccinated with opportunities to do so. For students, we recognize that the spring semester is drawing rapidly to a close and that our time is short to assist you in getting vaccinated if you choose to do so. 

Here’s what we know:

  • Approximately 3,900 students have updated their personal information questionnaire (PIQ) in Banner. Of those, almost 75% of students reported that they’ve had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. We couldn’t be more pleased with the rate of vaccine acceptance among students.
  • Over half of our students have yet to respond. So, if you’ve not yet updated your personal information, please do so in Banner Self-Service.
    • Even if you are not interested in being vaccinated at this time, please update the PIQ so we are not using resources or reserving doses on your behalf.
  • This information is essential. The Commonwealth, W&M and local providers are working hard and quickly to provide student vaccine opportunities before the semester ends. 
  • We also know that transportation to clinic sites remains an issue for many of our students. We are working with the Colonial Williamsburg clinic to provide shuttle service for future clinics. We will provide more information as we finalize those plans.  

COVID-19 CENSUS TESTING

  • Tomorrow W&M begins another round of census testing for all students on campus and within 30 miles of the university.
  • Fully vaccinated students do not need to participate in either census or prevalence testing, and are exempted from quarantine requirements unless they are symptomatic.
  • W&M is using the CDC’s definition of “fully vaccinated,” which means that at least two weeks have elapsed since the final dose of either a one- or two-dose vaccination sequence. 
  • Additional details follow below, along with directions on providing proof-of-vaccination.

THINGS TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE BEEN FULLY VACCINATED 

  • As noted, W&M is following the CDC in defining who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The day of the last dose is Day Zero; 14 days after that, you are considered fully vaccinated.
  • To be exempted from census and prevalence testing, as well as from quarantine requirements as a close contact, please provide proof-of-vaccination to William & Mary.
  • To do so, upload photos of the vaccination card you received when you were administered a COVID-19 vaccine. Kallaco Health & Technology has introduced the ability to upload proof-of-vaccination in the Kallaco portal.
    • If you do not have a Kallaco account, create one by choosing “Forgot Password” and do not use your W&M password. 
    • Visit the Record section in Kallaco and follow the prompts to upload a photo of your vaccination card. You must complete this upload process for each vaccine dose on your card.
  • While vaccination has ramped up in the Commonwealth the past few weeks, quite a number of our W&M community are not yet fully vaccinated. Consistent with CDC guidance, W&M continues to require fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks.  
    • Although we know vaccines are effective at protecting the individual who has been vaccinated from becoming severely ill, we do not yet know the extent to which individuals who have been vaccinated can spread the virus to those who have not yet received the vaccines.

In closing, I’d like to give a shout out to our students! We’ve seen a dramatic turnaround in our positive cases and in the number of students who are in quarantine as close contacts. The current numbers are reassuring and suggest that, as long as we remain diligent, we can meet our goal of having an in-person Commencement to celebrate the close of an unforgettable year.  

Sincerely,

Amy Sebring 
Chief Operating Officer & COVID-19 Director

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Update on Employee & Student Vaccinations

April 8, 2021

Good morning,

W&M continues to work with the two regional clinics when vaccines are available for major area employers and are hoping to expand more broadly to students. This email covers time-sensitive requests that will enable us to meet the vaccine needs of our community.

The headlines for you to know:

For Students: 

  • It is really important that students update their status in the Personal Information Questionnaire through Banner Self-Service as we continue to work with VDH and our local partners to identify opportunities to vaccinate all students who wish to be vaccinated before the end of the spring semester.
    • It is also critical that we know who has already been vaccinated so we can identify the number of vaccines needed to cover those who remain un-vaccinated.
  • The level of federal supply and its predictability remain the biggest hurdle, but we are hoping to begin scheduling students – potentially as soon as next week. We will update you as additional information becomes available.

For Employees: 

  • W&M has invited to one of the two clinic sites all faculty and staff who have indicated through Banner Self-Service that they would like to be vaccinated. 
  • If you have not yet been vaccinated and still wish to be, please make sure you have updated your information through Banner to reflect that so that we can extend you an invitation as vaccines become available.
  • If you have already been vaccinated or do not wish to be vaccinated at this time, it is also important that you update that information through Banner so we do not try to schedule you.

For Those Who Have Been Vaccinated:

  • Based on new CDC guidance, those who have been fully vaccinated will be exempted from W&M prevalence testing and quarantine requirements. To opt-out, upload to Kallaco your vaccination information, including an image of your vaccination card.  

Please read on for additional details about vaccination status in our community, how to get access and recent process changes for those already vaccinated.

Sincerely,
Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director 

Why Information About Your Vaccine Status is Important for W&M:

  • If you are seeking a vaccine, we may be able to help you find an appointment with one of the area clinics.
  • Based on new CDC guidance, those who have been fully vaccinated will be exempted from prevalence testing and quarantine requirements.
  • As more of our community gets vaccinated, we will make adjustments to our operations accordingly.

For now, here are our initial results as of Wednesday, April 7, from those surveys:

Initial Vaccine Survey Results:  Faculty & Staff

  • We have had 1,942 faculty and staff -- or approximately two-thirds of our employees -- update their status in Banner Self-Service. Of those who have responded:
    • 619 are fully vaccinated, 
    • 1,053 have had at least one shot,
    • 204 have not yet been vaccinated, but would like to be, and   
    • 66 have indicated that they do not wish to be vaccinated.
  • If you have not yet provided information through Banner Self-Service or if your status has changed, please add that information to the Personal Information tab.
    • W&M is approaching a shift away from obtaining vaccination appointments for faculty and staff. We aren’t quite at “last call,” but we aren’t far from it; please update your information so we can either work to get a slot for you or move on in our efforts to others who need it.
    • W&M is using the information only to allow us to advocate for vaccination slots, coordinate testing and quarantine exemptions and assess the level of vaccination in the W&M community in order to make plans for the fall semester.
  • These survey results are really important to helping us facilitate this process. To date, W&M has invited all faculty and staff who have indicated they would like to be vaccinated to one of the two clinic sites. While we know who we invite, we have no mechanism to know if they actually schedule the appointment or get vaccinated unless they report in Banner.   
    • We will also increasingly rely on these results to assess how many in our community have been vaccinated and the extent to which those numbers allow us to modify our operational practices.

Initial Vaccine Survey Results: Students

  • Response among students has been much lower, with only 1,783 -- less than 20% -- responding through the PIQ under Banner Self-Service. Of those who have responded:  
    • 384 are fully vaccinated, 
    • 1,007 have received one vaccine dose, 
    • 24 do not wish to be vaccinated, and
    • 368 would like to be vaccinated when there's an opportunity.
  • It is really important that students update their status in the PIQ as we continue to work with the Commonwealth to determine whether there are opportunities to vaccinate all students who wish to be vaccinated before the end of the spring semester.

The numbers are encouraging. We have also seen active cases drop and are continuing our robust testing protocols. We are six weeks away from Commencement weekend. I look forward to crossing the finish line Healthy Together!

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COVID-19 & Spring Break Update

April 2, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

As we head into what will be a holiday weekend for many, followed by two spring break days mid-week, we write to share information with you on the COVID-19 outlook on campus and new guidelines for faculty, staff and students who have been fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 Update & Outlook

  • W&M’s active COVID cases among students have declined slightly this week with 87 active cases as of this morning, down from a peak of 111 on Monday.
  • Active cases among W&M employees and affiliates have increased from four to nine.  
    • We sincerely appreciate the relentless work of the quarantine & isolation housing staff and others supporting our Health Logistics Squad.  
    • We also want to give a special shout-out to other faculty and staff who have volunteered to support meal delivery to our students in quarantine and isolation at Richmond Hall. Your help has provided needed reinforcement to a weary team!
  • The expanded testing of off-campus students who live within 30 miles of campus began this past Monday.
  • Chick-fil-A closed Tuesday after at least one employee tested positive for COVID-19. Originally planning to reopen with modified hours on April 5, Chick-fil-A will now remain closed through Sunday, April 11, to allow affected employees to isolate and quarantine. Normal hours will resume Monday, April 12.
  • Now that spring is here, the Historic Triangle is experiencing increased density in both indoor and outdoor public spaces. As a reminder, the Healthy Together Community Commitment extends past campus borders. We all affirmed that we would follow safe practices of masking, social distancing and hygiene to support “living, learning, gathering and working on campus and in the Williamsburg community.”

Spring Break Days and Next Round of Student Census Testing 

  • As we noted last week, W&M recommends that community members continue to refrain from high-risk activities, including traveling. If you must travel, please refer to the CDC guidelines, which may include quarantining when you return. If you are unable to quarantine, double-down on protecting yourself and others! Wear a mask, remain appropriately distant and practice good hand hygiene.
  • Of course, you need not travel! On Tuesday, April 6, enjoy over nine hours of fun wellness activities with “Wellness Your Way.” Options include boating on Lake Matoaka, running in a 5K, wandering in the wilderness, practicing yoga at sunset and black light dancing or cycling.
  • As a reminder to faculty, Spring Break days are to be respected as true respite days for students. It is absolutely critical that you do not schedule major exams, essays or other work the day after a scheduled break day.
  • The next round of census COVID-19 testing for all students within a 30-mile radius of campus will begin on Wednesday, April 14.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 or believe you are a close contact, you must visit ReportCOVID to work with a case manager on next steps and contact tracing. In addition to the service case managers provide for the person reporting, they are also vital in helping contain COVID-19 in the W&M community through rapid contact tracing and arranging isolation and quarantine.

Announcing Changes for Fully Vaccinated Faculty, Staff and Students

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider someone fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received their final dose of a one- or two-shot COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Consistent with the CDC’s guidelines for fully vaccinated people, William & Mary is exempting fully vaccinated faculty, staff and students from two requirements:
    • Participation in prevalence testing
    • Quarantine if identified as a close contact and asymptomatic
  • To be exempted, you must upload photos of the vaccination card you received when you received a COVID-19 vaccine. Kallaco Health & Technology has introduced the ability to upload proof-of-vaccination in the Kallaco portal
    • If you do not have a Kallaco account, create one by choosing “Forgot Password,” and do not use your W&M password.
    • Visit the Records section of the Kallaco portal and follow the prompts to upload a photo of your vaccination card. You must complete this upload process for each vaccine dose on your card.
    • Note that this is separate from the Banner Self-Service vaccine survey referenced in the next section.

Additional Vaccine Information

  • Good news on the vaccine front: Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday that COVID-19 vaccinations will be available to anyone 16 or older by April 18.
  • In addition, as William & Mary continues to facilitate vaccines for our employees as slots become available in area clinics, you should also fill out the vaccination questionnaire under the Personal Information tab in Banner Self-Service. This two-question survey allows William & Mary to identify those still needing to be vaccinated.  
  • Conversely, if you’ve already been vaccinated, please also fill out the questionnaire in Banner so W&M staff members aren’t trying to procure an appointment for you that they could be giving to someone who needs it!
  • Even if you have been fully vaccinated, you will be expected to continue practices that help protect others in the community. Please continue to wear a mask, practice physical distancing and good hand hygiene. It is still unclear whether vaccinated people can spread the virus, and people who are vaccinated bear responsibility to protect those who have not yet been given the opportunity. 

We hope this weekend and next week’s Spring Break days are restful and offer the opportunity to rejuvenate mid-semester.  

Be well,

Amy Sebring
COVID-19 Director and COO

Ginger Ambler
Vice President for Student Affairs

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Addressing Increased COVID-19 Cases 

March 26, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

We have a number of updates for you today regarding the census testing currently underway, the planned response, mitigation measures for all of us to adopt and a forecast for the next few weeks.

Student Census COVID-19 Testing: Results

  • Today’s results confirmed continued increases in the number of students testing positive, with the final batch of results expected over the weekend.
  • We do not expect to exceed 2% in positivity rate, but the Public Health Advisory Team is also focused on the rate of increase, which can grow quickly. 
  • Data suggest that for every one person with COVID-19, two more become infected. 
  • In a close community, numbers can quickly swell, a situation we’ve witnessed on other campuses but very much need to avoid at William & Mary in order to prevent large-scale operational changes mid-semester.
  • The overwhelming majority (roughly 80%) of these cases are occurring in students who live off campus.

Public Health Response: Targeting COVID-19

  • Over the next few weeks, all students who live off campus but within 30 miles of the university will be tested twice. This will help detect COVID-19 in students who have been in close contact very recently and help W&M stop the spread.
  • Because the majority of COVID-19 cases involve students living off campus, the Public Health Advisory (PHAT) and COVID-19 Response (CRT) teams are not currently recommending additional restrictions on W&M’s in-person learning, dining, housing, university-sponsored events or activities, including athletics.
  • As noted in the university’s message yesterday, W&M continues to plan for a modified, in-person commencement contingent, of course, upon the COVID-19 conditions on campus and in the region at the time.

Your Role in Identifying COVID-19

  • We’ve had an increase in students who are reporting that they had symptoms of COVID-19 prior to receiving their positive tests results, but had mistakenly assumed that their symptoms were due to seasonal allergies.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms, we ask all students to check-in with the Student Health Center and employees to consult with their health care providers.
  • Additional undergraduate Spring Break days are scheduled for April 6-7. We continue to encourage students not to travel during the semester. If you must travel, you should plan to quarantine for five days upon your return. 
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact, you are required to visit ReportCOVID to be linked up with a case manager to help navigate quarantine or isolation, study, teaching and employment. This is mandatory for students under the Healthy Together Community Commitment; it is not optional.

Mitigation Measures: How to Help

  • For students living off campus, here are some ways you can actively reduce the spread of COVID-19:
    • Limit your social activities to those in your household. We have seen lower spread for students living on campus, in part because they are not visiting students in other dorms or on-campus housing.
    • If you must visit with others outside of your household, do so outside, physically distanced and with masks. Avoid situations where you are eating or drinking with others who are not in your pod.
    • Keep in-person social gatherings to a few close friends to limit the number of people who might be exposed should you become sick.

Forecast: Looking to the Future

  • Prior to the recent uptick in cases, CRT and PHAT had been working on a plan to reduce restrictions at William & Mary in alignment with the governor’s recent guidelines, beginning April 1. Because of the increased case counts this week, this is no longer the target date. All current protocols will remain in place until we see a significant and sustained decrease in positive cases.
  • We hope to allow Recognized Student Organizations greater freedom in meetings and activities in the coming weeks, if COVID-19 cases and the number of close contacts decrease sufficiently.
  • The ability of our graduating students to convene in person for Commencement also depends on the university’s public health position in the near-term.

This is a pivotal moment in the semester. The next two weeks will be critical in charting our course through April and May. Continue to wear your mask, wash your hands and resist the urge to gather closely or in large groups. We have the utmost confidence in the W&M community and our ability to respond compassionately and appropriately.   

Be well,

Amy Sebring
COVID-19 Director and COO
 
Ginger Ambler
Vice President for Student Affairs

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COVID-19 Census Testing Update

March 25, 2021

Dear W&M Community,

William & Mary is undergoing a round of census COVID-19 testing of all students living on campus and in the vicinity. With roughly a third of results received, the university has seen a significant uptick in positives within the student population. We continue to update the COVID-19 dashboard to reflect current results every weekday. We anticipate this number to grow as additional results are returned, which is why we are contacting you today.

The COVID-19 Response and Public Health Advisory teams are evaluating what, if any, operational adjustments need to be made to slow the rate of increase and help protect the health of students, faculty and staff members. More information will be forthcoming. Current data suggest that the increase in cases is attributable to off-campus activities associated with St. Patrick’s Day as mentioned in Tuesday’s message, with subsequent social interactions since that time. There is no evidence that in-person academic activities are involved.

As we noted earlier this week, now is not the time to let up. We need each member of the community to recommit to our Healthy Together guidelines so we can finish the semester strong. We must do all we can to take care of each other, and that includes following our guidelines on and off campus. We must reset to the actions that led to our success.

This week’s news and our response emphasize why W&M conducts weekly prevalence testing augmented with regular rounds of census testing; the university is actively seeking positive cases of COVID-19 in order to mitigate the effects of the ongoing pandemic. W&M’s case management and quarantine & isolation housing programs are robust and have adequate capacity to help ensure that affected students receive the healthcare they need and continue their studies remotely until they are able to resume in person. 

We ask every member of our community to be vigilant in your daily practices of masking, maintaining appropriate physical distance and washing your hands. A year into pandemic, we know how best to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Now is not the time to relax.

Be safe,

Ginger Ambler
Vice President for Student Affairs

Amy S. Sebring
COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring

March 16, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

Here are this week’s updates as they relate to testing, mask compliance, outdoor activities, study space and vaccine information: 

COVID-19 Testing & Masking: Remain Diligent

  • We continue to experience low positivity rates for COVID-19 at W&M. Your hard work and commitment to keeping this community healthy are paying off.
  • While these COVID-19 rates have remained low, we are seeing early reports of reductions in mask-wearing across campus. Remember it is a part of the Healthy Together Community Commitment to wear a mask: 
    • In all indoor spaces (unless in your own room) 
    • Outdoors (unless an uninterrupted 6-foot distance can be maintained between you and others for the continuous duration of an activity), and 
    • In vehicles when traveling with other people. 
  • The advice from our Public Health Advisory Team is unchanged: mask-wearing remains the single most important measure for reducing transmission of COVID-19.
  • Unfortunately, we have seen a recent surge in cases at some nearby campuses in Virginia and in neighboring states. It is important that we remain diligent in our efforts to limit spread at W&M.

Outside Gatherings: Increased Opportunities to Be Together

  • I have heard from several sources, including survey responses from students and families, about a desire for even more opportunities to socialize safely. With the weather gradually turning warmer, we should all be looking for opportunities to do more outside.
    • Consistent with the governor’s recent guidance on outdoor sporting events, W&M will be hosting three home football games over the next several weeks. We have appropriate protocols in place that allow a limited number of students and other W&M guests to attend the games in Zable Stadium. Attendees are expected to socially distance and follow all other COVID-19 safety precautions, so this can be a great opportunity for members of the community to support our student-athletes. For more information, visit W&M Football.
    • Though indoor and outdoor social gatherings at W&M will continue to be limited to 10 people, university-sponsored or university-approved outdoor events can now extend to 25 people, per the Commonwealth of Virginia. 
    • With improving weather, we should all head outside for some fresh air, remembering to maintain appropriate distances and wearing masks to the extent possible.

Open Study Spaces: ISC Reopening After Hours

  • I’ve heard from a number of students since we closed access to ISC after hours. Clearly, ISC is a popular location for studying, and the loss of that space placed greater demand on other study spaces. Fortunately, we did not see an uptick in eating in other study spaces, so we have decided to re-open ISC with card access after-hours effective Thursday, March 18. 
  • Please note that students are still not permitted to eat in any classroom building. If eating in ISC becomes a problem again, we will close after-hours access to the building for the remainder of the semester. I ask that everyone refrain from eating in study spaces so that we are able to keep ISC open.

W&M Dining Services: Expanded Hours and Options

  • At the request of a number of students, we are expanding dining services.
  • As of March 28, W&M Dining Services is extending hours for the remainder of the semester at several locations: 
    • Dinner at Commons (The Caf) will be extended from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday – Thursday.
    • Sadler Express will open two hours early on Sundays at 3 p.m. Made-to-order pasta dishes and the Simply to Go grab-and-go items will be available for a meal swipe.
    • Late Night at Sadler will return during finals from 9 p.m. to midnight, May 9– 13, May 16 and May 17.
  • Additionally, the Simply to Go offerings in the Tribe Market and Student Xchange have been expanded to provide students with a grab-and-go meal swipe option until 10 p.m. FoodTruck Fridays, currently located at Lemon and Hardy halls, will continue with special menus created by the W&M Catering team and are available for a meal swipe. Follow @wmdining on Facebook and Instagram for the latest menu and special event information. Faculty and staff are welcome to sign up to the monthly dining email that students receive.

Census Testing: Next Round to Inform April Actions

  • We continue to receive requests for additional work activities or social gatherings. I know we are all anxious to get back to many of the activities we enjoyed prior to the pandemic and to start some new traditions.  
  • As tempting as it is to drop our guard, we don’t have to look far to see surging cases on campuses or in areas that have become less diligent. 
  • The Public Health Advisory Team (PHAT) has recommended we stay the course. We will re-evaluate additional changes after W&M completes its next round of student census testing, beginning March 22. Results from that round of testing will help inform our plans as we move into April.

Vaccine Update: Helping Speed Inoculation in Our Community

  • In addition to our ongoing work with the Williamsburg-James City County vaccine clinic, we are now also working with the clinic administration at Christopher Newport University. Close to 100 W&M employees received vaccines there on Friday and we hope to be able to invite more faculty and staff in the coming weeks.
    • If you are contacted via W&M Healthy Together to schedule a vaccination appointment through W&M, you must not forward the email or scheduling link. W&M is given specific slots for faculty and staff members on lists submitted in advance.  
    • Last week, we were informed that some at W&M forwarded their vaccine link to others. This action jeopardizes our clinic partnerships and our compliance with VDH phasing guidelines. Most importantly, it jeopardizes our ability to ensure that our most vulnerable faculty and staff members are vaccinated as soon as possible.
  • Faculty and staff also received an email from W&M Healthy Together last week with instructions to voluntarily update W&M on their vaccine status and their desire to be vaccinated. We heard from a number of you, but ask that if you intend to respond but have not, please do so by updating your personal information in Banner Self Service.  
  • While it is not mandatory to report, your responses will assist W&M in helping as many members of our community who wish to get vaccinated do so as quickly as possible. In addition, updating your status once you have been vaccinated will contribute to the PHAT’s assessment of the virus in the W&M community and enable informed decision-making as we make plans for the fall.
  • We will launch a similar tool for students next week.

Thank you all for your continued support and commitment to keeping one another healthy.

Stay well,
Amy S. Sebring
COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring

March 9, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community, 

Here are this week’s updates as they relate to the COVID-19 vaccine, testing and other efforts going on at William & Mary. 

Survey from PHAT

  • W&M’s Public Health Advisory Team (PHAT) has asked IT to add a voluntary survey to the personal information tool in Banner Self-Service, asking all members of the W&M community to let us know about their vaccination plans. This feature will remain accessible so you can make status updates as you receive your vaccination(s). While it is not mandatory to report this information, your responses will assist W&M in helping as many members of our community who wish to get vaccinated do so as quickly as possible. Keep your eye out for an email from our Healthy Together team announcing the launch.

Vaccine Update

  • We can report great progress regarding vaccination opportunities for members of our community. Last week alone, we assisted over 500 people with getting their COVID-19 vaccination! 
  • The COVID-19 Response Team and PHAT continue to work with the Williamsburg-James City County clinic to provide vaccines to our 1B employees.  In the coming weeks, we may be able to partner with other clinics in the region to expand opportunities for vaccines to additional faculty and staff.  
  • We also know that some in our community are being directly contacted by VDH and their local health districts. The local clinics continue to work with W&M as one of the region’s major employers. VDH and the Peninsula Health District notify those clinics when vaccines can be allocated for W&M. We will continue providing information for employees who qualify in each phase, but as vaccine supply improves, it is increasingly likely that you will be contacted directly by VDH.  
  • I recognize that the uneven rollout of the vaccine has been confusing and frustrating. I want to reiterate that the vaccine landscape is ever-changing. W&M is working in every way possible to make sure that we are providing our community with the latest information, and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we do so. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued new guidance for individuals who have been fully vaccinated. All of William & Mary’s COVID-19 policies remain in effect; we do not yet have enough of a critical mass of fully vaccinated students, faculty or staff to adjust our operations.
  • If you are interested in getting vaccinated and are contacted by either W&M or VDH, please respond. The state database will be updated as you are vaccinated and your updates in Banner Self-Service will ensure that we are updated as well.  
  • If you are contacted and wish to be vaccinated, please schedule your appointment.  The faster we get the community vaccinated, the better!

Census Results & Testing

  • We continue to see great results in our prevalence and wastewater testing. Last week, we tested over 1,000 students and employees distributed across three different labs. We’ve received all but about two dozen test results and have had NO new positives reported. The results are truly astounding.
  • Likewise, we continue to see levels of the virus drop in our wastewater testing, providing additional reassurance in the trends.
  • This low positivity rate is entirely due to your commitment to following health and safety precautions.

It is not lost on me that the reason William & Mary is able to remain open throughout the pandemic is directly linked to our community’s ability to remain compassionate and caring. The Healthy Together Community Commitment is a reflection that we have a shared responsibility to one another. Time and time again, we have come together to prove that we are a resilient, and now even stronger, W&M community. 

Sincerely,
Amy S. Sebring
COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Updates and Highlights from COO Amy Sebring

March 4, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

This week we close in on a full year of living with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., an anniversary that is prompting reflection and grief on top of “pandemic fatigue.” We’ve learned so much in the past year, but experts rightly remind us that knowledge alone won’t protect anyone unless it translates into the right actions. At William & Mary, that means steadfastly maintaining our Healthy Together Community Commitment (HTCC). Relying on the good habits and norms we’ve established over the past year is what will get us through.

Reminders

  • Visit ReportCOVID if you have COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive or are a close contact. For students especially, it’s critical that W&M helps coordinate your isolation or quarantine, and identify others who might have been in close contact. It is the job of W&M case managers and medical staff to coordinate these efforts; don’t feel it’s necessary or appropriate to take it on yourself. 
  • Do not eat or drink in classrooms during the day or after hours. Water bottles are OK. See the next point for an important update on ISC.
  • If you witness HTCC violations or unsafe behavior, we encourage you — whether student, faculty or staff member — to address it promptly. Reinforce the HTCC expectations in a manner that doesn’t shame the individual, but underscores our collective responsibility to one another. Last fall, the COVID-19 Response Team released a video that offers useful tips on having these conversations; find How Courage Keeps Us Healthy Together on W&M’s YouTube channel. 

ISC Closed for After-Hours Study

Unfortunately, we have fielded too many complaints about eating in the Integrated Science Center, so beginning today, W&M is closing the ISC to after-hours study access. Scheduled classes will continue, but students will no longer be able to swipe in to study in open classrooms at night. We will continue to evaluate the use of the other classrooms as needed. With temperatures improving, eating outdoors will become much more appealing over the next few weeks.

Vaccine Update

Increasingly, the local COVID-19 vaccine clinic is relying on the statewide registration system, rather than employers such as William & Mary, to coordinate booking. W&M remains engaged with the clinic administration and continues to help coordinate vaccination opportunities for our 1B faculty and staff members when there are “extra slots” or unanticipated increases in vaccine supply. In addition to appointments scheduled directly by VDH, W&M was able to help coordinate about 650 unanticipated first-dose appointments for employees meeting work or age requirements for Phase 1B. In order to ensure that you are notified as soon as possible, please register with Vaccinate Virginia if you wish to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

If you are contacted by the Virginia Department of Health or W&M about a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, we encourage you to get vaccinated. Please do not forward the appointment emails or texts to others; their appointments will be canceled and their attempts to register interfere with the commonwealth’s vaccination cadence.

Census Results & Testing

Some great news this week: After the weather-related shipping delays, we received results from the on-campus student census testing conducted last week. Of 5,998 tests, only 13 returned positive. All but four of those cases were already known – in the case management system as symptomatic or close contacts.

Due to the shipping delays, the Public Health Advisory Team (PHAT) is confirming the low student infection rate this week through a heavier-than-normal round of prevalence testing, which is in progress. We are also piloting a new system for testing that uses student mailboxes and a drop-site for saliva tests. So far, that is proving successful and convenient for students.

Governor’s Orders

As you may have noted, last week Gov. Ralph Northam loosened some restrictions in Virginia. The Public Health Advisory Team is considering how William & Mary should appropriately respond, as the Virginia Department of Health continues to signal concern about the potential of community spread on college campuses.

Through March, PHAT has advised that we not ease restrictions at W&M. The factors guiding our epidemiologists’ thinking are explained further in their weekly Epi Update: Local COVID-19 rates always lag behind state rates, which trail national rates, so they want to ensure that local and W&M-specific rates of infection remain low enough over time that they are unlikely to reverse. PHAT will continue to evaluate throughout the month and is considering some changes for April.

It has been a challenging year. We are so proud of the work and commitment shown by all of our students, faculty and staff members, affirming William & Mary as an incredibly caring community in which to study and work.

Sincerely,

Amy S. Sebring

COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer 

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Updates and Highlights from COO Amy Sebring

February 23, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

I’m happy to report that this week I am light on updates. That said, I do have a few items related to vaccinations and masking that I’d like to share.

Vaccination Information 

  • Virginia has launched a statewide registration system for COVID-19 vaccinations. All faculty, staff and students interested in receiving the vaccine should register in the state system. If you have registered previously with the local health district and/or if William & Mary has previously included you in its list of Phase 1A or Phase 1B employees, the website allows you to check if you are already in the database and if not, to register. 
  • Please check your registration status even if you have already received your first dose. W&M continues to work with vaccine clinic administration at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center on vaccine coordination. As vaccines become available at more locations, however, it will be beneficial to be registered in the statewide database, so please be sure to register yourself and any loved ones in order to be in the system as soon as possible. 

Federal Mask Study

  • W&M is participating in the CDC’s Mask Adherence Observation Study. Student volunteers are working with principal investigator Dr. Carrie Dolan, W&M epidemiologist and director of Ignite Global Health, to collect 400 observations per week on campus mask use and compliance. The first week of results is impressive, with 97% of our campus community wearing masks at the observation sites. For more information on this study and COVID-19 cases, please see the weekly public health online update

Reminder: No Food or Drink in Classrooms

  • As a reminder, food and drinks are not permitted in classrooms or academic buildings. Last week, we heard reports of students eating after-hours in those spaces. If we continue to see evidence of food and drink in those areas, we will reassess whether those spaces should remain available for studying and small group work during evenings and weekends.

Special Thanks

A shout out this week goes to the folks in Athletics who have been transporting COVID-19 tests for people in quarantine to VCU Health in Richmond. With the country-wide weather conditions shutting down central hubs for shipping, our general census testing capabilities slowed, but the people in Athletics have been going the extra mile (literally) to make sure those in quarantine are receiving their test results.

Sincerely,

Amy S. Sebring

COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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COVID-19 test results may be delayed and important scheduling update

February 17, 2021

Dear W&M Community,

Last week, William & Mary began its first round of COVID-19 census testing of all students living on campus and within 30 miles of the main W&M campus. Due to severe storms that have affected delivery schedules across the Southern states — and the Memphis FedEx hub in particular — we currently anticipate that results from those tests could be delayed by a number of days. This may also affect at-will and prevalence test results.

W&M does not yet have a firm timetable on when the samples will be received and processed by the lab, but we anticipate results will be returned and visible through Kallaco roughly a week from the day the student, faculty or staff member took the test.

Because of the shipping delays and because W&M is anticipating our own challenging weather conditions at the end of this week, we are rescheduling the remaining census tests for Monday and Tuesday.

As you know, for students and employees who have no symptoms of COVID-19, W&M offers census and prevalence tests (students) plus at-will tests (employees). If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, please do not participate in census, prevalence or at-will testing. Instead, contact the Student Health Center (if a student) or your healthcare provider (if a faculty or staff member).

We will provide additional updates if we are advised by the lab that extra delay, beyond seven days, is likely. Thank you for your patience.

CRT Healthy Logistics

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Updates and Highlights from COO Amy Sebring

February 16, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

We knew this semester would be different. So, today, I write in that context of what’s different as we look at COVID-19 cases in the W&M community and new trends in close contacts. I also provide a brief update on vaccines and a new statewide registration process.

What’s different with COVID-19 Cases this semester?

We started in a different position. We opened the semester amidst record-high COVID-19 cases in the region, state and nation. Through pre-arrival testing, we identified students and employees who were positive prior to returning to campus. As expected in both cases, the number of pre-arrival positives is higher than what we experienced in the fall.

For those who returned to campus, we have also seen a higher number of positive cases. As of this morning, we have had a total of 100. That’s 100 students who have tested positive for COVID-19 since we began tracking in early January. Likewise, we’ve had 11 total campus employee positives over the same time period. Fortunately, the number of active positives -- those who tested positive in the last 10 days and remain in isolation -- is much lower: 28 active student positives and two active employee positives. The numbers are trending in the right direction, as noted in the Public Health Advisory Team’s online update.

Although the trend is encouraging, the next few weeks are critical to putting us on a path to success again this spring. In the fall, we started with low positivity rates and maintained them. This semester, our numbers began higher. If we are diligent, we expect that we will once again be able to keep transmission low. If we relax too soon, we face a semester that will be much more challenging.

What’s different about close contacts?

The student cases we’ve seen this spring have more close contacts and close contacts are more often testing positive. In the fall, students that were quarantined as close contacts often did not catch the virus.

This semester, we are seeing a higher number of close contacts test positive after the incubation period. So today I want to focus on what it means to be a close contact and what the potential implications are for a close contact who later tests positive for COVID-19.

  • What is a close contact?  The CDC defines a close contact as someone who was “within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.” Close contacts are those who come in contact within two days prior to someone testing positive or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  • What happens if I am a close contact? If you are a close contact, you must quarantine for 10 days. If you live on campus, you will quarantine at Richmond Hall or the Woodlands (local hotel).
  • What if I feel okay during my quarantine? If you are asymptomatic, you will be tested after seven days, and if you do not develop symptoms you can return to normal activities after 10 days. 
  • What if I test positive while in quarantine? If you test positive at Day 7, the clock starts over for isolation. You will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days and can only return to normal activity if you are not experiencing any symptoms at the end of those 10 days. So, even if you are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, that means that you will be restricted from your normal activities for a total of 17 days. Of course, if you get sick, it may take you considerably longer before you feel well.

I provide this timeline not as a scare tactic, but for information. One of the attributes that makes W&M a special place to learn, live and work is the care that we have for those in the community.  None of us wants to be the one that puts our friends and colleagues in a position that requires them to be out of circulation for 17 days. As we each make decisions in our daily activities, we should be asking ourselves, “Is this activity important enough that I’m willing to potentially be sidelined for 17 days in quarantine and isolation? Is this activity important enough that I’m willing to be responsible for someone else having to do the same?” 

These are tough questions. But there are good answers:

  • When you’re in person, commit to limiting your close contacts to no more than two, three or four people routinely -- that means that you should eat, socialize and study with the same small group of people whenever possible. When you are together, continue to wear a mask (see updated recommendations from the CDC), maintain appropriate distance and wash your hands.
  • Look for opportunities to engage more broadly with friends and colleagues through virtual events, gatherings and exchanges. Remaining connected to the community is important and doing so in ways that reduce close contacts will accelerate our opportunities to be together in person as a community again.

Vaccines

Late last week, the Commonwealth of Virginia announced that it would be launching a statewide registration system that would bring together information previously held by each health district. If you have already registered with the Peninsula Health District or other local health district, you do not need to register again. If you have not yet registered and would like to be vaccinated, please visit the VDH COVID-19 vaccine page this week as the registration system is launched. W&M continues to work with vaccine clinic administration at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center to notify them of employees that meet the criteria for Phase 1B. As vaccines become available at more locations, however, it may be beneficial to be registered in the statewide database.

Special Thanks

I’d like to give a shout out to the facilities maintenance staff in groundskeeping, building services, and operations and maintenance that have worked for the last two weekends to remove snow and ice from campus. They, along with the W&M Police Department and those in emergency management, are dedicated to providing a safe environment for W&M students, faculty and staff no matter what the weather!

Financial Update on the Horizon

My last few updates -- including today’s -- have focused on COVID-19 in an effort to provide information in a timely manner as conditions continue to evolve. In the coming weeks, I will also provide a financial update to campus now that we are well past the halfway mark of the fiscal year and are beginning to develop projections for FY22 in light of ongoing discussions with the Board of Visitors and pending actions by the General Assembly.

Sincerely,

Amy S. Sebring

COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Updates and Highlights from COO Amy Sebring

February 9, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

Here are the important pieces of information to know as they relate to COVID-19 and university operations:

Vaccines:  In response to Gov. Northam’s guidance that vaccine distribution should be allocated 50% to individuals qualifying under Phase 1B due to work responsibilities and 50% to individuals qualifying based on age, the local vaccine clinic administration asked William & Mary to add contact information for our employees who are over 65. In addition, the clinic administration expanded the definition of essential workers. As supply becomes available, the COVID-19 Response Team is working across all areas of campus to update that information to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

If you meet the expanded criteria, the university will ask you to provide a personal phone number to ensure we can reach you quickly.  Although you are not required to provide a personal phone number, doing so will help to speed up the process of vaccinating our community, as vaccines may become available on short notice and you may be asked to sign up within a couple hours of the vaccination time.

As a reminder, if you believe that you are eligible for a vaccine under Phase 1B due to an underlying medical condition rather than work requirements or age, please go to your local health department’s website to register and consult with your healthcare provider. You may also want to consider registering with your pharmacy, as major chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart expect to begin vaccinating customers in the coming weeks.  

Regardless of where you get vaccinated, you will not be charged for the vaccine.  Some locations may charge a fee to administer the vaccine, so you may want to check before you arrive. If you are vaccinated at the local clinic at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors’ Center, there is no charge.   

As we continue to push through the vaccination process, inevitably members of our community will get vaccinated at different times and from different locations. Although the lack of a clear process is frustrating, I want to reiterate that anyone being vaccinated has a positive impact on the rest of the community.   

In addition, I want to remind those who have been vaccinated that W&M expects you will continue to uphold the Healthy Together Community Commitment. The vaccine protects the individual vaccinated, but the science is not yet clear on the level of protection it provides to others in close contact. Those vaccinated may still be carriers of the virus with the potential to infect others. So, continue wearing your mask, maintaining distance, washing your hands and engaging remotely with friends, family and colleagues when you are able.

Focusing on Science and Data: Over the past week, we have seen concerns circulating regarding possible outbreaks at different locations on campus. Throughout the pandemic, we have learned several key pieces of information, and one of these is that reliance on data and science will get us through this. The Public Health Advisory Team reviews daily -- often multiple times a day -- data from COVID-19 testing, ReportCOVID.wm.edu, case management reports and local, regional and national COVID-19 data. They use these data to look for patterns of transmission or other indicators that inform W&M’s operational decisions. 

Although it is tempting to focus on fear and rumors, we continue to provide daily updates through the the COVID-19 Dashboard, which provides a high-level snapshot of key data points. In an effort to increase community awareness, the Public Health Advisory Team will begin providing periodic updates on its approach and process to assess the trends we are seeing. I will provide that information as part of my regular updates and we will post them online.

Even with that information, it is critical that each of us does our part. We rely on the community to make sure that we have up-to-date information. If you test positive whether through a test administered on campus or in the community, or are identified as a close contact, it is critical that you complete ReportCOVID.wm.edu. If you are concerned or have questions about others’ behaviors or activities, please fill out the COVID-19 Concerns form

Healthy Together Community Commitment: Another reminder that all employees – faculty and staff – must reaffirm the HTCC through Cornerstone Learning no later than this Wednesday, February 10. Students have already completed that affirmation. For those of you working with vendors on campus, please reinforce the HTCC principles and the expectation that they adhere to our protocols at all times on campus. Sanctions for violating Healthy Together Community Commitments are being taken seriously and are enforced quickly. 

Limited Return to Indoor Dining: With in-person classes resuming this week, we will also be providing limited indoor dining options to facilitate students grabbing meals before and after classes. Indoor dining will be limited to two people per table and all diners are encouraged to meet with roommates or others with whom they are already in close contact. Outdoor dining -- again with limited two per table gatherings -- or to-go dining in your residence or office remains the preferred option from a public health standpoint. If you do choose to eat indoors, please make sure that you continue to wear your mask when you are not actively eating and drinking, and that you limit your time in the dining spaces to the extent possible. For more information about dining locations and operations, visit the William & Mary Dining webpage

COVID-19 Testing:  We resumed prevalence testing for students and employees the week of January 18. We will conduct full census testing of the student population living within 30 miles of campus beginning Thursday, February 11, with the bulk of the testing occurring the week of February 15. Students should look for additional information later this week. In addition, we will continue offering free at-will testing for W&M employees via VCU Health clinic at 332 N. Henry Street. Please go to the at-will testing portal to schedule an appointment if you’re interested. 

In closing, I continue to marvel at the small wins that we are accomplishing together every day.  So with that, I provide a quick shout-out to all of the staff who continue to support the COVID-19 Response Team’s Health Logistics squad, including those involved in testing logistics, vaccination rollout, wastewater testing, case management and quarantine and isolation housing. As a group, these individuals are working seven days a week, along with the Public Health Advisory Team, to monitor and adjust with a singular goal of continuing to be healthy together. 

Sincerely,

Amy S. Sebring
COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring

February 2, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

As many of you are aware, I became director of W&M’s COVID-19 Response Team in December, in addition to maintaining my role as chief operations officer. With the fluidity of the public health landscape, I plan to provide you with periodic highlights related to COVID-19 developments as well as share brief updates related to university operations. 

Important Updates:

Vaccines: W&M is working closely with the City of Williamsburg, the Peninsula Health District and the Three Rivers Health District (VIMS campus) to offer vaccines to employees, including student workers, who meet the criteria for Phase 1A or Phase 1B based on their current work responsibilities. Determination of eligibility rests with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

To date, we have been able to schedule vaccines for roughly 170 employees, with another 320 to be scheduled as soon as vaccines become available, potentially as early as this week. If you believe you are eligible to receive a vaccine in Phase 1A or Phase 1B due to non-work criteria (e.g., age or underlying health criteria), please go to your local health department’s website to register and consult with your healthcare provider. [Ed. note: In response to Gov. Northam’s guidance that vaccine distribution should be allocated equally under Phase 1B between work responsibilities and age, the local vaccine clinic administration asked William & Mary to add contact information for our employees who are over 65. See the Feb. 9 message for more information.]

Some may feel they should wait or may even feel guilty about the opportunity to receive the vaccine before other community or family members. It’s important to remember that anyone being vaccinated has a positive impact on the rest of the community. Each administered vaccine offers more protection to all of us.

Health Protocols: Given current vaccine supply, it is likely that our entire community may not be vaccinated until summer or even fall. With case levels high in the surrounding communities and the emergence of new variants nationally, it is critical that we be more vigilant than ever in wearing face masks, maintaining appropriate distance and washing our hands. We need to make sure not only that we are wearing a mask, but that we are wearing it over our mouth and nose at all times.

We also need to be cognizant of those with whom we are in close contact and limit those number of close contacts routinely. All of the actions we are taking are intended to reduce close contacts on campus – whether indoors or outside. As much as we long to share a meal with one another or gather socially, adhering strictly to our health protocols now will ensure that our care systems are not overwhelmed and speed up our ability to gather together in the future.

Travel and Remote Work: W&M continues to restrict work-related travel to only essential trips that cannot be accomplished remotely or deferred to a later date.  Following a work-related trip, employees are required to work remotely for five days before returning to in-person work.

Although the university cannot require remote work following personal travel, we encourage you to work remotely for five days after you return home if your work responsibilities allow for that. Please work with your supervisor to schedule your work accordingly.

Healthy Together Community Commitment: All employees – faculty and staff – must reaffirm the HTCC through Cornerstone Learning no later than February 10. Students have already completed that affirmation. For those of you working with vendors on campus, please reinforce the HTCC principles and the expectation that they adhere to our protocols at all times on campus.

COVID-19 Testing: Over the next week, we will complete our pre-arrival testing for students and employees in high-contact roles. We have begun weekly prevalence testing for employees and students; prevalence testing is mandatory if you are selected. In addition, we will continue offering free at-will testing for W&M employees via VCU Health at the clinic at 332 N. Henry Street. Please go to the at-will testing portal to schedule an appointment if you’re interested.

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Welcome and updates from CRT

January 25, 2021

Dear W&M students, faculty and staff,

Welcome back to the spring semester. As students return to W&M’s residence halls and campus activity increases, I write on behalf of the COVID-19 Response Team to reinforce practices that contributed to our success in the fall. This email also summarizes additional measures to mitigate COVID-19 at William & Mary this spring.

Coronavirus case numbers continue to surge nationally. The local and state landscapes are not much better. The Public Health Advisory Team continues to monitor health information daily, informing the university leadership as we operate under pandemic conditions.

One of the lessons we learned from the fall was that our shared commitment to protecting our community’s health allowed us keep positivity rates below that of other communities. So, under the current conditions, it is now more important than ever that we each maintain our diligence and support others in doing the same. Each student, faculty and staff member plays an important role in this effort. I’m confident we will build on the lessons we’ve learned and double-down on our health practices.

I have important updates in four areas today: Vaccinations, Reporting Violations and Concerns, After-hours Building Access, and the Healthy Together Community Commitment and Daily Health Check.

Vaccinations

Phase 1A and Phase 1B

William & Mary is working with local Virginia Department of Health districts to identify W&M and VIMS employees who have job responsibilities that qualify them for vaccination in Phase 1A or Phase 1B. Many of our employees with direct patient-care responsibilities – such as those working in the Student Health Center or in dedicated quarantine and isolation housing – qualify for Phase 1A distribution and have already received their first vaccination. Police and other essential workers are eligible for Phase 1B distribution and we are working to get them scheduled for vaccines. If you fall into one of those categories, you will be contacted directly with instructions on when you can schedule your vaccination, should you choose to be vaccinated.

We will continue providing information to the local health districts on employees meeting job-related criteria for 1A and 1B vaccinations as more vaccines become available through the health districts and the City of Williamsburg, with whom W&M is closely partnered in this effort.

Phase 1C and General Population

The majority of faculty and staff members, because they work in Virginia higher education, qualify for the 1C distribution schedule. At this time, the local health districts have not begun offering vaccines to individuals in Phase 1C. We anticipate most of our students will be vaccinated with the general population following Phase 1C. We have not yet received information on the timing of vaccinations for either Phase 1C or the general population. We will update you as we know more.

We recognize that students, faculty and staff who do not qualify for vaccinations at present due to their job responsibilities at W&M may have additional circumstances that qualify them for a different phase of distribution. For example, students, faculty or staff members with underlying medical conditions or meeting certain age criteria may qualify for the 1A or 1B distribution schedule. At this time, William & Mary, as an employer, has been asked to forward information to VDH for those with job functions that fit into the early phases of vaccination.

If you believe you qualify for Phase 1A or 1B due to your age or underlying medical condition(s), you should follow up with VDH and your physician or healthcare provider. VDH has launched a portal to assess your status and sign up for vaccination alerts at VDH COVID-19 Vaccination Response. Click “Find out which phase you are eligible for” to access the portal.

As vaccines become more widely available, we will continue to work with our regional partners to advocate for access for those W&M students, faculty and staff seeking to be vaccinated.

Vaccine Requirements

Because the current COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed under an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, they are not currently required of any faculty, staff or students. However, in the future, when the vaccines are approved beyond emergency use, they may be included among the other vaccinations the Commonwealth requires of students who attend W&M or for employees. W&M will continue working with state officials on those determinations as more information becomes available.

Reporting Violations and Mutual Respect

William & Mary continues to monitor the [[COVIDConcerns]] email address for reports of instances of unsafe behavior in our community. You should feel empowered, as a student, faculty or staff member, to report persistent concerns; the COVID-19 Response Team refers the reports to the appropriate academic, student or HR department or division for investigation, follow-up and action, including discipline.

Let me stress the importance of non-judgmental stances with respect to reporting and compliance. William & Mary community members must strive not to shame others as we create shared norms and habits. We all make honest mistakes as we continue to adjust to living, working and learning under pandemic conditions; many of these can be addressed on the spot with a respectful reminder of the community standard. When you think that won’t work, please don’t hesitate to ask a colleague or friend for thoughtful support or report the unsafe behavior.

After-Hours Building Access

Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 27, some academic buildings supporting Arts & Sciences will be accessible to all students, with swipe access, for evening study hours. Monday through Friday, select buildings will be accessible from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. [Weekend hours extended. - Ed.] Students may remain in the facilities until midnight, but will not be able to swipe in past 10 p.m. The William & Mary Police Department will periodically patrol the facilities during this time.

  • Tyler Hall
  • Tucker Hall
  • Morton Hall
  • Jones Hall
  • Integrated Science Center (except the third floor)
  • Blow Hall (third floor)
  • McGlothlin-Street Hall

Please note that not all spaces within a building will be available and that all university health and safety guidelines apply for after-hours use of these facilities. No food is to be brought in, ordered or consumed in these spaces. Masks that cover both nose and mouth are required, as is maintaining at least six feet of distance. Access to these spaces brings with it an obligation to sanitize the space when you come in and as you leave.

Healthy Together Community Commitment and Daily Health Check

W&M students are required to affirm their agreement to the Healthy Together Community Commitment again this spring. We are also requiring all faculty and staff to reaffirm the Health Together Community Commitment by watching a 10-minute video recapping the highlights from our video series this fall and again attesting to the commitment in Cornerstone no later than Wednesday, February 10. These will be available for faculty and staff in Cornerstone Learning no later than February 1; visit the “My Transcripts” tab to access the videos and agreement.

The Healthy Together Daily Health Check is available through the W&M Mobile app or m.wm.edu. We highly recommend that you continue to use it; however, we will not be requiring its use this semester. When we originally introduced the tool, general understanding of COVID-19, risky health behaviors and potential symptoms were not well understood. After six months, we recognize that we all have a much better understanding of the virus, so the mandated daily reminder is less useful. If you need a refresher or are concerned about potential symptoms, it may provide a first check to help you determine whether you need to modify your actions or reach out to a health care provider for a diagnostic assessment.

Please remember now that we are in the midst of winter and with spring allergy season on the horizon you should not attend in-person classes or come to campus if you are not feeling well.  Do not assume it’s only a cold or allergies. Rather, assume you may be infected and seek medical guidance before continuing to study or work in person. We want to make sure that you’re getting the care you need and that you are not inadvertently putting others at risk.

As a final note, this past weekend we welcomed new undergraduate freshmen, transfer and international students to move-in, along with freshmen who studied entirely remotely in the fall. We recognize that these students have been oriented to W&M’s health and safety protocols, but don’t yet have a successful semester under their belts in terms of our shared norms and expectations. They will be looking to all of us – students, faculty and staff – for guidance, modeling and mentorship. We know the first semester of college can be challenging and stressful for students under normal conditions – so much more during a pandemic! I know that we will all do our best to help our students develop the habits and norms that will help protect themselves and others throughout the spring semester.

Sincerely,
Amy Sebring
W&M COO, COVID-19 Director

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At-will COVID-19 testing available beginning January 25

January 20, 2021

Good afternoon,

Free, voluntary COVID-19 testing is again available for all W&M faculty and staff members, without a physician's referral. This at-will testing is intended to provide asymptomatic employees an additional tool for risk mitigation as they move between the campus community and other populations. This testing will resume the week of January 25 by appointment only. Make an appointment.

The at-will tests, held at the VCU Health Clinic at 332 N. Henry Street in Williamsburg, take approximately 15 minutes. Appointments are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Please bring a photo ID with you to the appointment. To see your results, you will need a free account registered with Kallaco Health & Technology before your appointment. To get started with an account, please visit the Kallaco portal. Click "Forgot Password" to create a new account, and DO NOT use your W&M password. Test results will be available to view within Kallaco in three business days.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, do not schedule an at-will testing appointment. Consult your healthcare provider instead. This also applies to faculty and staff members who have been identified as close contacts of a COVID-19-postive person -- begin quarantine and consult your healthcare provider; do not schedule an at-will test through William & Mary.

Thank you for all you are doing to keep William & Mary healthy this spring. If you have additional questions about testing, please email [[HealhtyTogether]].

All the best,
W&M Testing Coordination Team

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Return to Campus Testing - Spring 2021

January 8, 2021

Dear William & Mary Students, Faculty & Staff,

As William & Mary moves into a new semester, the COVID-19 Testing Coordination Team provides the following information on testing efforts for the Spring 2021 semester.

William & Mary is continuing to partner with the VCU Health System (VCUHS) for expanded medical services, including COVID-19 testing for students and employees. We continue to work closely with Kallaco on testing logistics, partnering with Clinical Reference Laboratory for return to campus testing.

In coordination with those partners and in consultation with W&M’s Public Health Advisory Team, we will continue to modify our testing program to reflect current public health conditions and use appropriate testing options based on the data and science available. For now, I write to provide an update on our current testing plans as we approach the start of the spring semester.

Student Testing

All students  living in campus housing or within a 30-mile radius of campus, who plan to attend in-person instruction or use university facilities, will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus. The timing of initial testing depends on when a student has been approved to return to campus:

  • Students will receive an email 10 to 12 days prior to return asking them to confirm their order for a self-administered, mail-in saliva COVID-19 test kit prior to coming to campus.
    • Students must confirm the order no later than 8 days prior to their planned return to campus through their Kallaco portal in order for the test kit to be mailed. Test kits will arrive in time for students to self-administer the test, mail it back and receive test results before they are due to arrive on campus.
    • Consistent with current VDH and CDC guidelines, we recommend students self-quarantine for 8-10 days prior to arrival.
    • For the first 10 days after arrival, close contact should be limited to roommates or housemates.
  • Tracking information for returning the test to the lab is not available in the portal, so you will need to record the tracking number provided on the return label so you can track it through the FedEx website.
  • International students must send their test to a stateside address. They should plan to self-quarantine off campus while they await the results of their test (2-3 days). If they do not have a stateside address to mail the test, they can be mailed to and picked up from the Student Health Center at:  
William & Mary
Student Health Center
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate at home and the Student Health Center will work with you on your return to campus plans. You must also complete the form at Report COVID to initiate case management that will assist with isolation requirements and help you navigate classes and study.
  • If you are in quarantine as a close contact, you must finish your 10-day quarantine at home prior to returning to campus.
  • Similar to the fall, W&M will conduct mandatory prevalence testing (sampling at least 5% of the student body) weekly and census testing of the full student body based on guidance from the Public Health Advisory Team and our healthcare partners.
  • Students who experience symptoms over the course of the semester should make an appointment with the Student Health Center or a private healthcare provider for a clinical assessment and testing if necessary.
Employee Testing

As we did in the fall, employees in high contact positions that are not able to sustain masking, distancing or other health provisions due to the nature of their jobs may be required to test before the university welcomes returning students to campus. You will be notified by your supervisor or the Testing Coordination Team if you have been identified.

  • Voluntary at-will testing through VCUHS will resume the week of January 25 by appointment only. A reminder message with the link to book an appointment will be sent the week prior.
  • Mandatory prevalence testing (sampling at least 2% of the employee population) will continue weekly.
  • Employees who experience symptoms should make an appointment with their health care provider for a clinical assessment.
  • If an employee tests positive or has been identified as a close contact, they are also required to complete the form at Report COVID. They must remain off campus until cleared to return by their assigned case manager, who may ask for documentation from a physician or health care provider.
Testing Exceptions and Return to Campus for Individuals who Recently Tested Positive for COVID-19

Tests can continue to detect viral material in those who have previously tested positive after they are no longer infectious. Following CDC guidelines, W&M will exempt students, employees and dining workers from pre-arrival and prevalence testing for a period of 90 days after the date a positive test was administered, upon documentation of the result. To provide documentation of the prior positive test result, please visit the Kallaco portal Records menu and follow the prompts to Upload Record.

Will there be testing at the end of the Spring 2021 semester?

Depending on the timing of vaccinations, William & Mary may again offer voluntary testing for students and employees who wish to be tested prior to returning home for the summer. We are working with our local health district and will provide information on vaccines as information becomes available.

We will continue providing update information in the coming days and weeks. Thank you for your diligence and commitment to keeping William & Mary healthy together.

Sincerely,

Amy Sebring, COVID Director and Chief Operating Officer

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