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September 6, 2021


Happy Labor Day! As we settle into our new routines, I hope you can find time for a moment of respite. Mental wellness continues to be a topic of great importance at W&M, and I encourage you to take steps to safeguard your physical and mental health and happiness.

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Happy Labor Day! As we settle into our new routines, I hope you can find time for a moment of respite. Mental wellness continues to be a topic of great importance at W&M, and I encourage you to take steps to safeguard your physical and mental health and happiness.

After sending a message with six items last week (yes, I can assure you that I was trained as an engineer and I can count), I did my best to quell my excitement a slight bit this time but still recounted them to double check... So, here are the top five things to know this week:

  1. As an update to my message last week, our in-person Opening Convocation ceremony will take place on September 8, at 8 p.m. in the Wren Yard. I’m excited to see our campus aglow that evening as we welcome the classes of ’24 and ’25. If you’re unable to make it in-person but still want to watch the ceremony, please visit our Facebook page for a livestream. 
  2. We recently announced that W&M has signed a new lease for the Washington Center and our future presence in D.C. at 901 4th Street NW (the D.C. Bar association building). The current Study in D.C. programs will continue on another floor while our space is being built out and the D.C. team leads the transition. The center also will celebrate its 20th anniversary this year and invites all who are interested in engaging to attend the reception on Nov. 4. W&M remains invested in strengthening the university’s presence in the federal capital and will be engaged in planning and market research conversations as we work toward an expanded vision for W&M in Washington, D.C.
  3. Throughout the first week of classes, I received questions regarding COVID-19 policies and procedures. Generally, the COVID-19 Response Team is the group to answer such questions. Amy Sebring, COO and COVID-19 director, also issues updates every Tuesday and archives them on the coronavirus The COVID-19 dashboard has also launched for the semester. As for the questions, several people asked about case management in the classroom, quarantine and isolation, and testing; the CRT answers:
    • COVID-19 in the Classroom: When we made the decision to return to normal occupancy in classrooms, we did so with the guidance of the Public Health Advisory Team (PHAT). Vaccines and masking remain the two most effective tools for reducing the spread of COVID-19. Distancing is much less of a factor. PHAT is actively monitoring our current cases and has found no indication of spread in the classroom. As a result, we are focusing our contact tracing efforts on settings where spread is more likely (e.g., where individuals are together eating and drinking or in social circumstances where masking is not maintained).
    • Testing: W&M is following CDC protocols. The timing of testing depends on whether an individual is symptomatic or asymptomatic and vaccinated or unvaccinated. Symptomatic students should contact the Student Health Center for an evaluation. Symptomatic employees should consult with their physicians. Asymptomatic individuals will be notified if they have been a close contact and W&M will coordinate testing with them.
    • Quarantine and isolation: Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms or after receiving a positive test result. Only close contacts who are unvaccinated need to quarantine.
If you have a student contact you because he or she has been asked to quarantine or isolate, please work with that student as you would with any student who has to miss class for a short period of time due to illness. Also, if other students in your classroom have been identified as social contacts through case management, they will be notified by case managers. You do not need to share with the class that a fellow student is in quarantine or isolation. In fact, we should respect the privacy of students around a COVID-19 diagnosis, as we would with any other illness that might befall them.
  1. I want to highlight the fantastic work of the Digital Inclusion & Governance Lab, which has been working to gather data around the effects of digital technology in countries with fewer economic, social and political resources. This research, which is ultimately geared toward promoting equity, is at the heart of what we aspire to achieve at William & Mary, and is part of the reason I am proud to be a member of our academic community.
  2. My shout-out for this week goes to all of you, our faculty members. It goes without saying that faculty are central to our mission, and that your work throughout the previous year has advanced William & Mary’s capabilities despite pandemic conditions. Your passion and adaptability inside and outside of the classroom has been inspiring. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Finally, in case you haven’t yet signed up for W&M&You, please do so. We want to hear from you as we continue to make decisions throughout this academic year.