COVID-19 Response Team Updates

June 26, 2020

Fall Schedule

A reminder, to reduce the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus the university will operate with a compressed schedule with an extended break between Thanksgiving and the start of the spring 2021 semester. Recognizing that the schedules for graduate and professional schools may vary, some key dates for undergraduates are as follows:

  • August 12-14: Phased move-in of new students
  • August 15-18: Phased move-in of returning students
  • August 19: Classes begin
  • November 13: Last day of classes
  • November 24: Last day of exams

The current restrictions on campus operations with most employees working remotely will continue through July 31. With the return of students to campus, there will be a need for core functions to return as well. Information will be provided next week by the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Human Resources Officer on the specifics of how we will assess timelines for resuming campus operations based on the university's mission and areas of work.

Mitigating risk under pandemic

The university is taking a systematic approach to mitigate risks of transmission in face-to-face situations, via education, prevention, testing/tracing and treatment including quarantine and isolation.

NOTE: the following protocols are based on epidemiological modeling and analysis pursued in partnership with the major medical centers in the Virginia public university system. Guidelines will continue to be adjusted based on research and analysis arising from that partnership.

Specific measures:

Specific measures to minimize risk under the pandemic
  • Wearing of face coverings is required in all public or communal spaces including classrooms.
  • All students will receive a wellness kit consisting of washable masks, hand sanitizer, wipes and an educational pamphlet.
  • Faculty and staff will receive similar wellness kits. Additional masks or face shields will be available for employees as appropriate to their roles and work environment.
Students returning to campus
  • Domestic students will be expected to self-quarantine for 8 days prior to return. The return to campus will be phased to allow for implementation of the following.
  • Students arriving to campus from international locations may have additional guidelines as specified by the CDC.
  • A testing program is under development that will likely require all students to be tested for COVID-19 on arrival, in order to allow for immediate isolation of those who test positive for infection. This testing program is intended for all students, on-campus, off-campus, undergraduates and graduates. Details to come.
  • COVID-19 prevention will be included as part of new student orientation emphasizing a community-wide commitment to engaging in behaviors that promote health and mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.
  • University-wide signage protocols will be in place, allowing for consistent messaging across campus.
Symptom tracking and additional testing

A symptom-tracking app will be provided to all students, faculty and staff, allowing for a daily prompt for symptom assessment. More information on the app will be shared by mid-July. W&M is part of an active effort to partner with the Commonwealth on a testing network anchored in our three VA university medical centers: VCU, UVA, and VT. Our testing and other public health protocols are based on ongoing epidemiological modeling with those centers.

  • A testing program is under development that will likely require all students to be tested for COVID-19 on arrival and will allow employees to take advantage of optional (at the employee's choice) testing services partially subsidized by the university.
  • Touchless temperature stations placed strategically around campus will support self-assessment.
  • As noted above, a testing program is in development that will likely require all students to be tested on arrival and to participate in prevalence testing throughout the semester.
  • Symptomatic students may be tested and treated through the Student Health Center.
  • W&M will be significantly increasing its capacity to provide access to healthcare on campus.
  • At-will testing will be offered to students as they leave for the semester, as an additional precaution for their home communities.
Hygiene practices and cleaning/disinfectant protocols

W&M practices will continue to be based on CDC/VDH guidelines with oversight by the university's Environmental, Health & Safety Office.

  • Cleaning of personal office spaces will be the responsibility of the individual faculty or staff member using materials provided by the university. This will reduce occupancy to protect the health of employees and allow custodial staff to focus on more frequent cleaning of public spaces.
  • Students will be responsible for cleaning class desk space before and after use.
  • 200 hand sanitizer stations will be placed across campus in high traffic areas to facilitate proper hygiene.
Physical distancing and adaptations to workplace environments
  • Each member of the President's Cabinet, in consultation with direct supervisors, will determine units' appropriate mode of work to perform the core functions of the university while limiting risk.
  • Flexibility for units to continue to telework will be prioritized where possible. In areas where telework does not meet the university's mission requirements, work schedules may be modified to reduce staff interaction.
  • Staff will be provided with PPE: face masks or shields as appropriate, hand sanitizer and wipes.
  • Where possible, work spaces will be reconfigured to support physical distancing among employees. If it is not possible to reconfigure a space, plexiglass shields will be installed to provide additional protection for employees.
Physical distancing and adaptations to classroom environments
  • All classrooms, seminar rooms and lecture halls will be reconfigured to allow at least six feet between each student and at least six feet from the instructor.
  • Non-instructional spaces including outdoor space are being converted to support instruction with adequate physical distancing.
  • In cases where physical distancing cannot be maintained (i.e., some lab activities), masks will be required and face shields provided.
  • Plexiglass shields may also be installed as added protection for both students and employees.

All of these efforts will be supported by an increased cleaning regiment focused on individual responsibility for personal space and more extensive and frequent cleaning of public spaces by the university.

Physical distancing outside the classroom
  • For fall 2020, William & Mary is limiting the number of invited visitors to campus.
  • All visiting speakers will be virtual.
  • Where possible, events and other traditional campus gatherings are being canceled or shifted to the spring semester. If held, events will have limited in-person attendance and/or a virtual engagement. CDC, VDH or Governor's guidance will set the upper limit for any in-person gatherings so long as physical distancing can be maintained.
  • Campus facilities (buildings, spaces, etc.) will be available for students and employees for non-class gatherings such as associations, clubs, organizations but safety precautions (physical distancing, masks, cleaning protocols) will be required. Details to follow.
  • Outdoor venues will play a prominent role in supporting activities outside the classroom. Outdoor gatherings will still require appropriate social distancing and mask wearing.
  • Communal spaces (including lounges, kitchens, exercise or training rooms and dining halls) will be posted with strictly limited capacities to support social distancing. Furniture will be removed or repositioned.
Dining halls

For campus dining William & Mary, in partnership with Sodexo, will maintain compliance with CDC guidelines for restaurants. Physical distancing will be implemented. Other actions being taken include:

  • Installation of touchless payment stations. Touchless readers in all W&M dining locations will be available for accepting meal plan swipes and dining dollars. Credit and debit cards will be accepted and customers can either insert the card at the credit card terminal themselves to pay or use the chip in their credit card for touchless payment.
  • W&M Dining is strongly encouraging contactless transactions (debit, credit, W&M ID card for meal plans and W&M Express) this fall but will take care of customers who only have cash. PPE will be available for cashiers to accept cash.
  • Relocation of food trucks to reduce density.
  • Expanded "grab and go" menus.
  • Class schedule adjustments to reduce pressure on facilities and adjustment of dining hall hours to allow for more frequent cleaning.
  • W&M dining employees will meet CDC and State requirements for face masks and personal hygiene with daily health monitoring.
Student housing

The university is using multiple strategies to decrease the risk of COVID-19 transmission within residence halls. These include:

  • Phased move-in of new and returning students to reduce crowding, provide for education, and ensure compliance with health guidelines.
  • Restrictions on residence hall access by non-residents.
  • Restrictions on events/social activities in housing facilities.
  • Training for residential advisors and live-in staff.
  • Signage to promote proper hygiene and social distancing in common areas.
  • Limited room options (overwhelmingly singles and doubles; triples and quads only where physical distancing can be maintained).
  • Students will be responsible for cleaning and ensuring physical distancing in their dorm rooms and suites.
Student quarantining and isolation

The university has set aside Richmond Hall to be used only as residence hall space for student quarantine (potential exposure) and student isolation (positive case). Active cases within the student population will be monitored through the Student Health Center under guidance from the Center's Medical Director.

Coordination with local health authorities

The President and other university leaders meet monthly with City of Williamsburg leadership to coordinate COVID-19 response. William & Mary also participates in weekly calls with a Greater Williamsburg COVID-19 Partnership which includes membership from localities, school divisions, major employers and local health service providers. Through this group, the university remains current on regional testing volume, positive cases, hospitalizations and hospital capacity.