Info for... William & Mary
William & Mary W&M menu close William & Mary

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 and 2021message archives.

March 29 | Masks Recommended But Not Required On Campus
February 28 | Update on Masking in Light of CDC Guidance
February 22 | Update on Masking in Residence Halls
February 15 | W&M COVID-19 Updates
February 1 | W&M Public Health Updates
January 25 | Evacuation Plans, Q&I Housing Update, Mask Distribution
January 18 | Updates on COVID-19 Protocols
January 11 | Announcing Jan. 19 Community Conversation with President Rowe
Masks Recommended But Not Required On Campus

March 29, 2022

Dear W&M Community,

Since we returned from spring break, William & Mary’s Public Health Advisory and COVID-19 Response teams have reviewed the current state of COVID-19 on our campus. Cases among students and employees remain in the single digits, and based on the March 24 CDC update, Williamsburg, James City County, York County, and Gloucester County each reflect “low” community levels. With that in mind, I write with an update in COVID-19 policies for the week ahead. 

Masks Recommended But Not Required On Campus  

Effective Wednesday, March 30, masks will generally be recommended, but not required, in all indoor spaces, including classes and labs. There will be two exceptions: 1) Masks will continue to be required in the McLeod Tyler Wellness Center for students who are waiting to be seen at the Student Health Center and for all Student Health Center employees while in the clinic, and 2) Masks will continue to be required on public transportation per federal guidelines. 

Although masks will be recommended but not required in all indoor settings except those identified above, I anticipate many members of our community will make a personal decision to continue wearing masks in some settings. Masks continue to be welcome on our campus. Consistent with our value of belonging, we expect the community to support those who decide to wear them.  

In addition, we continue to monitor for and anticipate that we may see periods of higher and lower COVID-19 activity on campus and in the community. When we are in periods of low activity — as we are now — we will relax W&M’s COVID-19 protocols to the extent practicable, given public health and operational concerns. We should likewise anticipate that there may be periods during which W&M will again require masks or adopt additional operational changes in response to changing COVID-19 conditions.   

For now, I am cheered by the continued progress and look forward to a strong finish to the academic year. 

Sincerely,  

Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director 

Back to top

Update on Masking in Light of CDC Guidance

February 28, 2022

Dear W&M Community,

Since the beginning of the pandemic, William & Mary has considered guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when making public health decisions. On Friday, the CDC released new guidance on masking, expanding the variables it uses to assess risk level in communities. Williamsburg is currently in a low-risk area and cases at William & Mary continue to remain low.  

After reviewing the data with the Public Health Advisory Team, William & Mary has decided that effective March 1 masks will generally be recommended, but not required, indoors on William & Mary’s campus, except in classrooms and class labs during scheduled classes and/or lab activity. The decision to maintain masks in all classrooms recognizes that we are in the midst of mid-terms and want to minimize disruptions to faculty teaching and students’ academic efforts. We plan to revisit this decision after we return from spring break and will keep you updated as we make future decisions. Masks will also continue to be required in a few other limited venues, including the Student Health Center and on public transportation as mandated by the federal government.

It is important to note that the new CDC scale anticipates that communities may go through periods of heightened COVID-19 activity, during which it may be necessary to increase William & Mary’s COVID-19 protocols. PHAT epidemiologist Carrie Dolan offers more information in the latest Epi Update about the variables CDC is considering. We will continue to monitor both our local community as well as our campus community in the context of the new CDC guidance. 

Several weeks ago, the Virginia Department of Health announced that it was no longer conducting contact tracing for COVID-19. William & Mary has also started shifting case management to focus on support for students and employees who have tested positive and providing our community with access to tests when warranted. 

W&M recognizes that these changes will be greeted warmly by many, while for others they will create anxiety. Masks are very welcome on campus; if you find the extra protection helpful, please do not hesitate to wear one. Let’s be respectful of each other as we make this transition and continue to support mask wearing for those who choose to do so.  

Sincerely,

Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director

Back to top

Update on Masking in Residence Halls

February 22, 2022

Dear W&M Community,

As I mentioned in my message last Tuesday, William & Mary’s Public Health Advisory Team (PHAT) continues to review the current state of COVID-19 on our campus with the aim of transitioning our community’s response in a phased way to endemic status. That transition is likely to mean periods of minimal or no intervention and periods of heightened protocols, contingent on the state of the virus in our community. With case counts on campus and in the region beginning to level off, positivity rates declining and hospitalizations decreasing, I write with one update in COVID-19 policies for the week ahead.

Masks Optional in On-Campus Student Residences

Effective Wednesday, February 23, W&M will move to “masks optional” in public spaces in residence halls. Although masks have been optional in individual dorm rooms or apartments the entire academic year, this change will allow all on-campus students the flexibility that off-campus students have to determine when or if they wear masks in their residence halls. We continue to welcome masks in residence halls for anyone who chooses to wear one and encourage all to be mindful of one another’s comfort levels. Masking remains an effective way to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as well as a host of other diseases, including colds and flu. 

It is important to note that this change only applies to student residences. W&M continues to require indoor masking in all shared, non-living spaces, including all classrooms, labs, shared offices, recreational facilities, meeting spaces and indoor hallways, except when actively eating or drinking.

ReportCOVID.wm.edu

If you test positive for COVID-19, you are required to complete the form at ReportCOVID.wm.edu. This brief form puts you in touch with a case manager to help navigate your care and isolation. You can also use ReportCOVID.wm.edu if you have been identified as a close contact. A case manager will help you determine when you should test to maximize the accuracy of your result; they can provide access to a test should you need it.  

I’m encouraged by the public health trends we see today and remain optimistic that we will be able to continue adjusting our COVID-19 protocols in the coming weeks. I will update the community routinely as needed.

Sincerely, 

Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director

Back to top

W&M COVID-19 Updates

February 15, 2022

Dear William & Mary Community, 

Nearly three weeks into the spring semester, cases continue to remain low. As we have done throughout the pandemic, we continue to think about which COVID protocols are most effective for the stage of pandemic that we are in. As we shift from pandemic to endemic conditions, the Public Health Advisory Team (PHAT) has begun thinking about how and when we can begin appropriately loosening our COVID protocols while acknowledging that we may continue to see periods of heightened COVID activity and corresponding heightened COVID protocols for some time.

Our process for making those decisions depends on several important indicators, including case numbers, transmission data, positivity rates, vaccination rates, and hospital capacity in our local community. We continue to think about the impact not only on our students, but also on our staff and faculty. Given the complexities, there is no “one number” that triggers our decisions, but rather a comprehensive scan of relevant indicators.

Currently, many of these metrics are trending favorably, but we know how unpredictable this virus can be. For now, we are encouraged that we are in a much better position than we were in early- to mid-January. We continue to review the data and make decisions in a phased way. 

One of the data points that does appear to be different this spring is the number of individuals being identified as close contacts. Given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, I encourage you to socialize in small groups with your core friends and colleagues and to meet outdoors whenever possible. For those that would like them, faculty and staff may order masks from the facilities management warehouse and students may pick up additional masks from the Sadler Center information desk. 

The CDC also recently released important data about the effectiveness of boosters. Although the data are showing that the effectiveness of boosters begins to wane at four months, they continue to be the best tool we have to prevent severe illness and hospitalization. So, we continue to recommend that you be vaccinated and boosted as soon as you are eligible. 

Finally, on Friday, as we celebrated William & Mary’s 329th birthday, I was filled with gratitude for the resilience and characteristic diligence the W&M community demonstrates. I send a heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped make Charter Day a safe and celebratory success, and for the entire community that remains dedicated to our mission, vision and values.  

Sincerely, 

Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director

Back to top

W&M Public Health Updates

February 1, 2022

Dear W&M Community,

The spring semester is fully underway. William & Mary continues to monitor COVID-19 and to make phased decisions based on the best available information at the time. With that, I provide the following updates:

Student Vaccinations for Spring 2022

As you have likely heard, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares issued an opinion on Friday reversing the prior Virginia Attorney General’s ruling on student vaccine requirements in higher education.    

The impact will be minimal this semester at William & Mary. The vaccination rate for W&M students living and learning on campus this semester is already close to 100%, with all those eligible for a booster (over 90%) having already received one. High levels of vaccination, coupled with consistent indoor mask-wearing, serve us well, making it possible for us to continue to live, learn and work in person even as we continue to see high levels of cases of the omicron variant in the region. William & Mary will not disenroll students who do not upload booster status this spring; however, vaccine status does impact requirements for quarantine and isolation as described below.  

Quarantine and Isolation Guidelines

As a reminder, William & Mary continues to follow the CDC guidelines for quarantine and isolation. As always, if you are identified as a close contact or test positive for COVID-19, please fill out the form at ReportCOVID.wm.edu for a case manager who will help you obtain free testing at the right time and navigate quarantine and/or isolation as appropriate.  

For individuals who are unvaccinated:  

  • Quarantine for five days if you have been identified as a close contact. Continue to wear a mask at all times for five additional days, if you test negative for COVID-19.  
  • You will be eligible for a COVID-19 test on Day 5 after your known exposure.
  • Following a positive COVID-19 test, you must isolate for at least five days and continue to wear a mask everywhere for an additional five days.

For individuals who are vaccinated, but who have not yet received a booster and are eligible, you must follow the same guidelines as those outlined above for those who are unvaccinated based on the CDC guidance.

For vaccinated individuals who are not yet eligible for a booster, or who have already received a booster: 

  • You do not need to quarantine if you are identified as a close contact unless you become symptomatic or test positive. 
  • You should also test on Day 5 after your known exposure. A case manager can assist you with getting a test and advise you of the appropriate time to test.  
  • If you test positive, you must isolate for at least five days and continue to wear a mask everywhere for an additional five days.

Donate Blood This Month

The American Red Cross has announced that it is facing crisis-level blood shortages, in part attributed to pandemic-related declines in donations. The organization reports that high school and college blood drives have dropped by more than 60%, compared to 2019 levels. Where students typically represent a quarter of donors, during the pandemic they have accounted for about 10%. If you missed the blood drives in January, please consider giving blood in February. The Red Cross lists a campus blood drive at William & Mary on Wednesday, February 16. Visit American Red Cross of Virginia to schedule on that date or at another time, and to learn more.

Looking Ahead

William & Mary remains committed to continuing to provide an in-person experience for our students this semester; doing so requires ongoing attention to mitigating COVID-19 in our community. I know we all hope that we will soon transition fully from a pandemic to an endemic state in terms of the coronavirus. However, if we have learned anything over the last two years, it’s that the virus is unpredictable, and that new variants are likely to emerge. Given the unpredictability, William & Mary will continue to make decisions in a phased way, semester by semester, and month by month.

As we move into February, I am cheered by the forecast of warmer days ahead and by the characteristic diligence the William & Mary community exhibits in caring for one another.

Sincerely, 

Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director

Back to top

Evacuation Plans, Q&I Housing Update, Mask Distribution

January 25, 2022

Dear W&M Community, 

Campus is bustling once again, with more members of the community back at W&M for the spring semester, and 2022 is certainly off to an interesting start.  

Student Emergency Evacuation Plans 

The bumps we have all experienced during this latest phase of the pandemic serve as a reminder of the importance of developing an emergency plan for evacuation. As a reminder, W&M students were required to submit emergency evacuation plans in the fall as part of the Personal Information Questionnaire. With the ongoing pandemic, your plan should also anticipate how you will quarantine or isolate off-campus if needed. Returning undergraduate, graduate and professional students, please check to make sure that your information is accurate and current; students new to W&M this semester, please complete your plan now if you have not already done so, as the deadline was January 10.  

Quarantine & Isolation Assistance 

On-campus residential students who live too far away to quarantine or isolate at home or who have extenuating circumstances that prevent that option may opt to stay in a local hotel room if needed. If your emergency evacuation plan requires use of a hotel room, W&M has identified a limited number of hotel rooms and has negotiated a reduced rate for our students. For students staying in one of those rooms, W&M will cover the first night’s cost of lodging, but students will be responsible for covering all subsequent nights. Through ReportCOVID.wm.edu, case managers can assist students in identifying availability of those rooms should they need it and options for financial assistance if necessary.  

Mask Distribution 

As a reminder, W&M continues to require masks in all shared indoor spaces at all times, except when actively eating or drinking. W&M has ordered 40,000 masks to assist students, faculty and staff seeking to wear an N95 or KN95 mask, which have been identified as the most effective masks in reducing the spread of the omicron variant. Beginning Monday, department, unit, and office administrators or building managers may order up to two masks per faculty or staff member from the facilities management warehouse. Beginning Monday, students living on campus will have the opportunity to pick up two masks from their area duty offices and students living off campus will be able to pick up two masks from the Sadler Center information desk during their normal hours. We are expecting more masks to be delivered in the coming weeks, allowing us to offer additional masks for those who may want them.  

Tracking COVID-19 at W&M and in the community 

With the start of the semester, the university has resumed publishing the W&M COVID-19 Dashboard, with plans to update every Monday. After reaching a peak the week of January 6, cases in Williamsburg have dropped considerably over the last two weeks. Likewise, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the area are in the single digits.   

As we enter yet another semester of pandemic, I want to thank you for your continued commitment to our community’s health and wellness.  

Sincerely,  

Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director 

Back to top

Updates on COVID-19 Protocols

January 18, 2022

Editor’s Note: Phased planning has amended some information in this message. In early 2022, the Virginia governor and attorney general announced changes in public policy guidance regarding vaccine requirements for state employees and higher education students. Full vaccination remains in the best interests of the health of the W&M community. In alignment with the Commonwealth, William & Mary moved to encouraging strongly all students, faculty and staff to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations and to stay up-to-date on appropriate boosters.

Dear W&M Community,

With the start of the new semester, I write with important updates on our COVID-19 statistics, updates on William & Mary’s protocols for vaccines and boosters, testing and masks – and to preview tomorrow’s Community Conversation. The Path Forward will be updated by the end of the day tomorrow with today’s announcements; please continue to reference the site throughout the semester to get the most up-to-date information.

COVID-19 Statistics

As we look to the spring, W&M continues to make public health a priority. As of this morning, over 96% of students who will be on campus this semester are fully vaccinated and almost 82% have already reported receiving a booster – a number that will increase this week.

As we begin the semester, we will once again be updating the COVID-19 dashboard. Given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, we can expect case numbers to be higher this semester. As we’ve seen every semester, we typically experience a spike in the first few weeks. So, once again, we will be watching the data and adapting as needed.  

To date, we have received over 2,000 pre-arrival tests. The bulk of tests will be processed in the next week. The results so far have been encouraging, with fewer than 8% of students testing positive. Those students who have tested positive will isolate at home until they are able to return to campus.

Student Vaccines and Boosters

As a reminder, all students are required today to upload to Kallaco proof of a booster if they are eligible to receive one, or to have an approved disability or religious exemption. [Ed. note: In alignment with Attorney General Miyares’ opinion concluding that public universities cannot require COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of enrollment, W&M moved to encouraging strongly vaccination for all students in February 2022.] Tomorrow W&M will begin contacting those who are not in compliance.

Employee Vaccines and Boosters

On January 15, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Executive Directive 2 [pdf] announcing a change in public policy guidance for state employees and prohibiting vaccine requirements as a condition of employment. In alignment with that change, W&M will move to strongly recommending vaccines and boosters for all employees. 

Research continues to show unequivocally that immune response declines over time and that boosters minimize the severity of COVID-19 should you be exposed. The best way to protect yourself from becoming severely ill is to be vaccinated and boosted as soon as you are eligible. Fortunately, almost 95% of our employee population has been vaccinated, with over 75% reporting that they have been boosted. There are likely others who have received a booster, but have not yet reported.

The policy announced in Executive Directive 2 also prohibits mandatory disclosure of vaccine status as a condition of employment. Going forward, we will be strongly encouraging employees to share whether they are vaccinated and use ReportCOVID.wm.edu to access W&M’s COVID-19 tests if they are symptomatic or have been identified as a close contact through our case managers. 

Testing Availability

In anticipation that we are likely to see higher, albeit less severe, case loads this semester, students will have access to testing through ReportCOVID.wm.edu if they are symptomatic or have been verified as a close contact through W&M’s case management. W&M’s Student Health Center also stands ready for students who need medical care.

For employees, we recognize that testing supply is a concern for many. Last semester, employees in need of a test were directed to obtain one from their healthcare provider. In a shift from our prior protocols, W&M will now provide testing through ReportCOVID.wm.edu for employees who are symptomatic or have been verified as a close contract.  

Mask Availability

W&M continues to require masks in shared indoor spaces at all times unless actively eating or drinking. W&M has ordered 40,000 KN95 masks for students, faculty and staff. Once those have been delivered, we will provide instructions on how you can gain access to those. Although 40,000 is a large number, given the size of our campus community, I also encourage you to take stock of your personal mask collection. The omicron variant has reinforced the importance of masks – and in particular well-fitting masks, like a KN95 – in reducing spread.

Tomorrow’s Community Conversation 

President Rowe will be hosting a Community Conversation with me and two other members of the Public Health Advisory Team at noon tomorrow. We expect that conversation to focus on what you need to know as we plan to return in person, recognizing that, as with every semester since the pandemic began, we can expect that this one will be different. I hope you will tune in tomorrow for that discussion.

Sincerely,

Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director

Back to top

Announcing Jan. 19 Community Conversation with President Rowe

January 11, 2022

Editor’s Note: Phased planning has amended some information in this message. In early 2022, the Virginia governor and attorney general announced changes in public policy guidance regarding vaccine requirements for state employees and higher education students. Full vaccination remains in the best interests of the health of the W&M community. In alignment with the Commonwealth, William & Mary moved to encouraging strongly all students, faculty and staff to obtain COVID-19 vaccinations and to stay up-to-date on appropriate boosters.

Dear W&M Community,

We hope you enjoyed a restorative break, and that your new year is off to a healthy start. We’re looking forward to welcoming everyone back to campus soon. With guidance from W&M’s Public Health Advisory Team and in accordance with CDC guidelines, the university continues to plan for an in-person semester.

We’re devoting a Community Conversation with W&M President Katherine A. Rowe next week to the discussion of semester planning around COVID-19, the omicron variant, and the data- and evidence-based approach W&M deploys toward decision-making. The president and members of the Public Health Advisory Team welcome your questions; please submit them online. I hope you’ll mark your calendars to join the conversation at noon on Wednesday, January 19.

COVID-19 Booster Records Due Tuesday

As a reminder, all eligible students and employees are required to show proof of the COVID-19 booster vaccination on or before next Tuesday, January 18, 2022. [Ed. note: In alignment with the Commonwealth, W&M moved to encouraging strongly vaccination for all students, faculty and staff in February 2022.]

  • Currently eligible for a booster:  If you are currently eligible to receive a booster, you must upload an image of the dose in the Kallaco portal no later than Tuesday, January 18.  
    • Students who are not in compliance face being disenrolled for the spring semester.  
    • Employees who are not in compliance will be placed on 30 days leave without pay followed by termination if they remain out of compliance. 
  • Not yet eligible for a booster:  If you are not yet eligible, you will be required to obtain and record a booster within one month of your eligibility date, based on your vaccination dates recorded in Kallaco.  
    • As of this week, the CDC reduced the timeline for booster eligibility to five months past the Pfizer and Moderna series, or two months past the J&J series. 
    • After January 18, you will be required to receive and record a booster dose within one month of your eligibility date according to the most recent CDC guidance. 
  • Recently tested positive for COVID-19 so cannot yet obtain a booster: If you have tested positive for COVID-19, it is recommended that you not receive a booster vaccination until at least 14 days after your positive test. If you need to seek a deferral, please visit the Exemptions & Deferrals section of Path Forward for instructions. 
  • Approved deferral, disability or religious exemption:  If you already have an approved deferral for the spring semester or a disability or religious exemption on file, you are exempt from the booster requirement, but you will be required to comply with W&M’s testing protocols. 
  • International students:  We recognize that international students may not have access to vaccines and/or boosters in their home countries. International students should contact International Students, Scholars & Programs or email [[HealthyTogether]] if they have questions or need to seek a deferral. 

As we prepare to commence the spring semester, please monitor W&M’s COVID-19 Response and Path Forward sites, where we will also share updates on the university’s plans. 

Sincerely, 

Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director

Back to top