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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 and 2021 message archives.

January 18 | Updates on COVID-19 Protocols
January 11 | Announcing Jan. 19 Community Conversation with President Rowe
Updates on COVID-19 Protocols

January 18, 2022

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. 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

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Announcing Jan. 19 Community Conversation with President Rowe

January 11, 2022

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.  

  • 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

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