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COVID-19 messages to employees

An archive of messages sent to William & Mary employees about the university's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Note that phased planning has amended some information in the original messages. These are marked with editor's notes. - Ed.

Spring 2021 Calendar Announcement

October 22, 2020

Dear W&M Community,

First, I send my sincere thanks to students, faculty and staff who have worked tirelessly and honored our Healthy Together Community Commitment in order to make the fall semester a success in the face of considerable challenges.

As we plan for our spring semester, our overarching goals remain steadfast: to prioritize the health and well-being of the community; to keep teaching, learning and pursuing research; and to continue adapting our living, learning and working environments so as to mitigate the spread of the virus. I am enormously grateful for the W&M community’s commitment to these three goals over the past eight months – and we must remain vigilant.

Knowing how rapidly public health conditions can change, William & Mary will continue to move forward in a phased way, using the best information we have and consistent with public health guidelines. We will continue to communicate regularly, to provide as much clarity as feasible, as soon as possible.

With the above in mind, I am writing today with updates about the Spring 2021 academic calendar. The spring course schedule will include in-person, blended and fully-remote sections, as the fall semester did. We have heard the concerns expressed by many students and faculty about this fall’s compressed semester. In response, W&M will not shorten the spring academic calendar. Start and end dates will remain as published on the University Registrar’s website.

  • Undergraduate, graduate Arts & Sciences, and Marine Science classes will begin January 27 and end May 7.
  • Start and end dates for the Mason School of Business, the School of Education and the Law School vary by program and can be found on the University Registrar's website.

It is clear, given the continuing trajectory of the pandemic, that spring break will have to be different this academic year. We continue to place first priority on the health of our community. That includes mental health and wellness, and we acknowledge the need for the entire university to have downtime. In order to provide restorative breaks while remaining vigilant about the spread of COVID-19, we will offer individual spring break days in 2021, rather than a consecutive, five-day break. For undergraduates, there will be six spring break days:

  • Friday, February 12
  • Thursday, March 4
  • Wednesday, March 17
  • Tuesday, April 6
  • Wednesday, April 7
  • Monday, April 26

On these spring break days, classes will not meet and no due dates for assignments or exams will be scheduled. Some students and faculty may elect simply to unplug and rest on these days; others will want to participate in a variety of recreational, social, wellness and service opportunities that will be announced later.

Graduate schools will be in direct contact with students by the end of October regarding spring break days and other academic calendar considerations. Student Affairs will provide details about the winter break transition and spring semester arrival by the week of November 2. Specifics on operations for all employees will be announced by the week of November 16. And pre-arrival testing requirements will be announced by the week of November 16.

I would like to thank you again for your incredible commitment to our healthy community and wish you the best as we continue through the second half of the fall semester together.

Peggy Agouris
Provost

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Celebrating Small Wins and Taking Time Off

October 14, 2020

Dear William & Mary Colleagues,

October is typically a month during which we take time to celebrate our employees. This year, we will not be able to gather as we normally would for a staff appreciation lunch. So this is a good time to reflect on the faculty and staff who have made the semester such a success, and the importance of wellness and taking personal time off.

Although we often celebrate big wins, over the last several weeks, I’ve been reflecting on the small wins – the “little things” happening every day across the university that contribute to our success. This semester has already been one for the books for more reasons than COVID-19. When President Rowe announced my appointment to the COO position, I can say with certainty that neither of us envisioned what my first few months would bring.

Fall 2020 wins

Over the past months, so many of you have proven repeatedly that you are capable of taking on all manner of challenges. I’ve marveled with pride as I’ve watched colleagues step into new roles, provide an extra set of hands, or simply double down on the work before them because of their commitment to seeing this institution flourish even in the midst of significant challenges. Many of you have taken on new responsibilities because you were asked. Others have created new opportunities, because you knew that our students, our staff or faculty needed someone to step in – often recognizing the need before they did. Some of you have had opportunities to demonstrate hidden talents, while others have learned new skills.

Let me give some examples:

  • Prior to the pandemic, William & Mary Conference and Event Services provided support to groups looking to use our campus for events and conferences. Since March, that group has morphed into the quarantine and isolation service team, utilizing their skills and expertise in hospitality management. Their efforts have been critical to our success in keeping the campus open. You can visit W&M News to learn more about their work and related case management.
  • William & Mary Dining has shifted the focus of their catering staff expertise from fine dining and events to fulfilling and delivering daily meal orders for quarantined students in Richmond Hall. The W&M Dining Services team of three hundred staff is on campus seven days a week to serve our students.
  • Recognizing the increased workload on Procurement Services at a time when the group was short-staffed, the Business School reached out and offered to use its new robotic technology to automate portions of monthly purchasing card reconciliations – saving staff four hours per month that can be used for more strategic priorities. Since its inception, the business school has used robotic process automation (RPA) to save more than 1,200 hours of staff time.
  • Custodial staff have moved to a seven-day work week in order to support the aggressive cleaning regimen that is keeping our community safe and healthy. Many have also stepped in for colleagues who, like many of us, are struggling to balance the new demands that COVID-19 has imposed not only at work, but also at home.
  • Staff at the Reves Center moved swiftly to identify ways they could continue serving our students who live and study abroad during a period of diminished travel opportunities and heightened uncertainties. In a few short months, they have created online advising, orientation and training options for students who live overseas and have not been able to join us this semester.
  • Similarly, the Cohen Career Center has developed virtual career workshops and career fairs to keep our students – whether here or at home – on track as they look to secure internships and jobs.
  • University Advancement staff previously focused on fundraising and events management have taken the lead on testing logistics. Testing has become one of the cornerstones to navigating this public health challenge. I’ve heard from a number of students and employees that scheduling and taking their tests was easy and pleasant. For the community as a whole, the peace of mind that has come with a robust testing program has been a source of comfort.
  • Our Health and Wellness Services have seen a record amount of interest and use this semester. As one of the first institutions in the country to pivot to a Virtual Wellness Center, they have been able to provide new programs and services on a daily basis to our more than 12,000 program participants.
  • As someone who understands what it’s like to have taken on a new official role during the pandemic, I want to call out the three new deans and their offices who started this year in Arts & Sciences, the School of Education and the Law School. You have done a fantastic job of showing leadership during a time in which it is needed more than ever.

And there are many, many examples and countless hours of seen and unseen work that have gone into making us successful thus far this semester.

And yet, we need to be thinking holistically about wellness. The William & Mary community is eight months into this pandemic. I see the strain on many of your faces. I see the tired eyes and I hear the struggles for many of you who are trying to work, teach kids from home, and care for loved ones. I also know that for many it has been hard to take time off and even when we take time off, to unplug from the frenetic pace of work.

Time Off

As we look ahead, we should expect that we have several more months of operating during a pandemic ahead of us. And in order to keep the campus flourishing, each of us must be able to flourish. Part of flourishing is celebrating the wins – no matter how small. Part of flourishing is taking time to rest and rejuvenate.

Over the next two months, I encourage you to take time off if you’re able. Find a few hours, better yet a few days. Add a day or two at Thanksgiving to take an extended break. Take the Monday before election day to create a long weekend. Give yourself permission to step away from work, so that you can return with energy and renewed focus.

Recognizing that some of you will not be able to take needed time off before the end of the calendar year, I have approved allowing employees with annual leave to carry over up to 80 hours more than the annual maximum carryover limits – hours that can be used at any point in calendar year 2021.

Finally, although we will not be able to gather for our annual employee appreciation lunch, know that you are appreciated. Continue to look for the small wins and to celebrate them with your colleagues. If you have a few minutes, please share the “wins” you’re hearing about too. I would love a quick email at [[coo]].

Thank you for all that you are doing to keep William & Mary on our path forward. Every single person in the William & Mary community has gotten us to where we are today. I know that some people were hesitant to believe that we would make it to this point in our semester, but together we have – and that’s a win!

Warmly,
Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer

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W&M&You Climate App - Now available for all Faculty & Staff!

October 8, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

As you have heard, over the summer the Provost and Student Affairs collaborated with IT to create and launch W&M&You, a text polling initiative that provides a channel for students to make their voices heard and inform university planning efforts in the current COVID-19 pandemic environment. We are pleased to announce that W&M&You is now available for faculty and staff! All employees are invited to provide real-time feedback to the university on important topics of the day.

Registration is available on the W&M&You website and through the W&M Mobile app under the W&M&You icon.

To sign up, simply click the “Register to Participate” button on the website or mobile app and add your mobile number via the short form. Once registered, you will begin to receive periodic text messages asking for your feedback on a variety of questions. Responses are tallied and reviewed in aggregate but are not reported by individual.

Since July, W&M students have provided valuable input regarding their biggest concerns about the impact of COVID-19 on the fall semester, their opinions on what actions will best safeguard community health, and their perspective on current course workloads. On the website you can see the detailed results of these questions: www.wm.edu/wmandyou.

We are thrilled that W&M faculty and staff will now have access to this direct channel for input. The more employees who participate, the more representative and informative their input will be for the university’s planning efforts, as we seek to gather real, rather than anecdotal, data in a timely manner.

Please sign up and help us hear your voices.

Peggy Agouris, Provost
Virginia Ambler, Vice President for Student Affairs

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Voluntary COVID-19 Testing Now Available

Ed. Note: In October, William & Mary waived the copay for faculty and staff COVID-19 testing without a physician's referral.

September 15, 2020

Dear William & Mary Faculty and Staff, 

A reminder that, voluntary COVID-19 testing is available for all W&M faculty and staff members, without a physician’s referral again next week. This at-will testing is intended to provide asymptomatic employees an additional tool for risk mitigation as you move between the campus community and other populations. For example, if you are attending an event or visiting a family member and want to ensure you are COVID-19 negative beforehand, you may schedule a test without consulting a healthcare provider.  

Please note that these will be COVID-19 PCR nasal swab tests. The upcoming tests will also be processed by William & Mary’s new partner lab, Wisconsin Diagnostic Laboratories, facilitated by VCU Health System.

However, if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please consult your healthcare provider and do not schedule an at-will testing appointment.  

The at-will tests, held at the VCU Health Clinic at 332 N. Henry Street in Williamsburg, will take approximately 15 minutes and limited appointments are available M-F.

Appointments are offered on a first-come, first-served basis with a $15 copay, paid by credit or debit card in advance. Visit the clinic’s appointment portal to make an appointment. Your confirmation email will include a link to make your copayment, which is nonrefundable. You must make your copay before coming to the appointment. No payments will be accepted on site. Please bring a photo ID with you to the appointment. 

To see results, you will need a free account registered with Kallaco Health & Technology before your appointment. If you have not already, please visit their website at https://kallaco.wm.edu to get started. 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 have additional questions, please feel free to email COVIDResponse@wm.edu. We wish you good health. 

W&M Healthy Together

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Gratitude and Employee Recognition Day on Nov. 30

September 15, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

I have only one purpose in writing today: to extend thanks, personally and on behalf of the Board of Visitors, for the extraordinary effort that every person on this campus has put forth over six months. At their last meeting, I asked the Board members to make November 30, 2020 “Healthy Together Employee Recognition Day” and observe it with a paid day off for hourly and all other employees. The Board agreed unanimously and included it as part of a resolution of thanks. 

The resolution, available in its entirety online, reads:

“WHEREAS it does not do justice to the service provided by our staff and faculty to simply say, “thank you,” although we do, indeed thank them. The commitments that each has made, the remarkable gifts of time and talent they have each given and will continue to give in the face of the exceptional ambiguity they face, must be recognized with our sincerest appreciation...

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED That the Board of Visitors of William & Mary hereby lauds the staff and faculty of the university with our gratitude and praise…”

You have risen to the challenge and uncertainty this pandemic has created without hesitation:

  • 500+ faculty took an intensive course in remote learning this summer through the Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation.
  • During the first round of move-in, volunteers from 18 university units answered 676 phone calls at the call center, responded to 581 questions online, and served at the check-in area.
  • Finally, I received this note from the parent of a new student: “It was extremely anxiety relieving to know that I am leaving my child in such thoughtful and exemplary caring good hands. Kudos and a thank you to all!”

As we navigate a semester unlike any other, with so much unprecedented work and uncertainty still ahead, I feel very fortunate to have such talented and caring colleagues. Thank you for all that you do to support William & Mary and our students.

With gratitude,

Katherine A. Rowe
President

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Maintaining COVID-19 protections at W&M under VA Phase 3

September 11, 2020

Dear William & Mary community,

The COVID-19 Response Team is pleased that health metrics in Hampton Roads have improved over the past few weeks. As a result, Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday he was lifting enhanced restrictions on the region.

While the governor loosened some restrictions, William & Mary’s requirements remain in place, to minimize spread of the COVID-19 virus:

  • On- and off-campus gatherings continue to be limited to no more than 10 people with required masks and physical distancing.
  • Programs or events sponsored by the university or student groups will continue to be limited to 50 people, with required masks and physical distancing.
  • Masks must be worn indoors and outdoors on campus and off-campus, in all instructional and social situations.
  • At least six feet of physical distance must be maintained – 10 feet for those exercising, singing or cheering – consistent with state guidelines.

So far, your compliance with these basic requirements has resulted in a limited number of positive cases in the community. Our comprehensive testing and case management programs actively seek positive cases on campus so we can prevent them from further circulating in the community, provide individuals needed care and limit the opportunity for spread.

Remember, if you do test positive for COVID-19, through William & Mary’s testing regimen or an outside provider, you must respond immediately to any outreach from the university and visit ReportCOVID.wm.edu to be assigned a case manager to assist in transitioning work and study while isolating. If you test positive via W&M’s program, a case manager may reach out to you first. By reaching out after a positive test or by answering our call, you gain immediate help and protect other members of the campus community.

The health and safety protocols we’re currently maintaining are helping to limit the spread of COVID-19 in W&M’s close-knit community. We must continue these measures with increased vigilance. Thank you all for working so hard to protect your own health and that of the community this semester.

All the best,

Sam Jones
Chair, COVID-19 Response Team

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Guidance for faculty & staff on mandatory health protocols

September 10, 2020

Dear W&M faculty and staff members,

We are writing to clarify and reinforce some of the mandatory COVID-19 health protocols in place for this fall. We are heartened to see so many students, faculty and staff members acting responsibly this semester, increasing William & Mary’s chances of completing a successful in-person school year. We are all watching closely the successes and challenges at other universities, and adopting those lessons into our phased re-opening of campus. At this moment, we are specifically and actively searching for positive cases of COVID-19 among our in-person student population, so that we reduce potential outbreaks, protect the health of the greater community and prevent spread.

  • Prevalence Testing: To support that effort, we’d like to remind you that participation in prevalence testing at W&M is mandatory. All in-person students received a negative test result for COVID-19 before coming to our campuses, and they are all undergoing another round of testing starting this week. From that point, ongoing prevalence testing of the student population and of faculty and staff is essential to reducing any spread of the virus.
  • If you, as a staff or faculty member, are selected for prevalence testing, you will be notified by email, as will your supervisor, dean or department chair. You must then schedule a time for your test. It is imperative that you respond to these emails, get tested and show our students and the greater community our commitment to William & Mary’s health. Given the importance of testing in reducing potential outbreaks, ignoring this requirement is not an option. You can expect follow-up if you fail to schedule an appointment.
  • Masks: Please continue your vigilant, and required, use of masks on campus – indoors, outdoors, in shared spaces, when teaching, exercising, etc. While on campus, masks are required indoors and outdoors in all social situations. Again, we must all lead by example.
  • Consequences: To ensure that we all do our absolute best to protect the health of our community, faculty and staff members not abiding by the Healthy Together guidelines will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. The disciplinary procedures will follow the policies for the employee's classification (hourly, classified, operational, professional, faculty, etc.). The circumstances will determine the discipline administered. In all circumstances, William & Mary is committed to holding all faculty and staff members accountable for their actions (and inaction) related to keeping our community as safe as possible.
  • Additional Guidelines: Please follow other Healthy Together guidelines: Complete the required online training, respect physical barriers installed on campus, stay home when sick, quarantine if you’ve been so advised by the Virginia Department of Health and complete W&M’s form at ReportCOVID.wm.edu if you test positive for COVID-19.
  • Daily Health Check: Beyond these requirements, complete the daily health check through the W&M Mobile app or at m.wm.edu by selecting Healthy Together. To help us all adopt the daily habit, we will send reminders to anyone who has not completed it in 48 hours. The Healthy Together module has many additional useful features, including a link to reporting positive test results and concerns, checking test results, arranging pick-up dining and downloading COVIDWISE, Virginia’s anonymous exposure app.

Each of us plays a role in modeling the behavior we’d like to see adopted widely. We are examples to students of the value we collectively place on health. William & Mary is shifting the culture toward being more considerate and health-conscious. To that end, please hold each other and visitors to our campus accountable; there was terrific guidance in the required Healthy Together training videos which can be viewed on W&M’s YouTube channel whenever you need a refresher.

Finally, a number of you have said you admire the new “Masks UP” banners around campus and along Richmond and Jamestown roads, and that you’d like similar graphics for your own use. Attached you’ll find an 8.5x11 version (pdf) and an 11x17 version (pdf) to print for your spaces. They’re a quick way to signal your respect for students and colleagues as we establish a health-oriented culture at William & Mary.

Wishing you good health,

Peggy Agouris, Provost
Christopher D. Lee, Chief Human Resources Officer

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Voluntary COVID-19 Testing Now Available

Ed. Note: In October, William & Mary waived the copay for faculty and staff COVID-19 testing without a physician's referral.

September 7, 2020

Dear William & Mary Faculty and Staff, 

Voluntary COVID-19 testing is now 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 you move between the campus community and other populations. For example, if you are attending an event or visiting a family member and want to ensure you are COVID-19 negative beforehand, you may schedule a test without consulting a healthcare provider.  

However, if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please consult your healthcare provider and do not schedule an at-will testing appointment.  

The at-will tests, held at the VCU Health Clinic at 332 N. Henry Street in Williamsburg, will take approximately 15 minutes and be available Wednesday and Thursday this week. 

Appointments are offered on a first-come, first-served basis with a $15 copay, paid by credit or debit card in advance. Visit the clinic’s appointment portal to make an appointment. Your confirmation email will include a link to make your copayment, which is nonrefundable. You must make your copay before coming to the appointment. No payments will be accepted on site. Please bring a photo ID with you to the appointment. 

To see results, you will need a free account registered with Kallaco Health & Technology before your appointment. If you have not already, please visit their website at https://kallaco.wm.edu to get started. 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 have additional questions, please feel free to email COVIDResponse@wm.edu. We wish you good health. 

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What to Do If You Test Positive Through Prevalence or Third-Party Testing

September 6, 2020

Dear W&M Community,

As William & Mary expands student and employee testing for COVID-19, we wanted to offer guidance to the community about what to do in the case of a positive result and introduce you to the new case management system.

If you are a student and receive a positive test result from William & Mary’s ongoing testing or from another health service provider:

  1. Immediately isolate yourself in your residence hall, or if off-campus, in your residence. It is critical that you avoid interactions with others, maintaining at least 6 feet of physical distance and wearing your face covering.
  2. Please visit ReportCOVID.wm.edu to fill out the Positive COVID-19 form to generate a case. A case manager representing the COVID-19 Response Team should respond within an hour. During regular business hours, if you do not hear from a case manager or the Student Health Center, call (757) 221-2998. If it is after-hours and you have not heard from a case manager, please call W&M Police Dispatch at (757) 221-4596, which will refer your call to the on-call physician. Please also visit If You’re Feeling Ill for instructions, especially if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, emergency or mild.The Student Health Center will assist you in deciding where to isolate.  On-campus students may move to Richmond Hall or return home. Off-campus students can either return home or isolate at your local residence.
  3. Students moving to Richmond Hall should prepare personal items, books, laptop, phone, chargers, prescriptions and clothing to last approximately 14 days.
  4. Staff at Richmond Hall will assist with your move-in, providing transportation as appropriate. Your case manager will help make the arrangements.
  5. A Student Health Center physician will clear you to return to normal campus activity after 10 days, as long as you have gone at least 24 hours without symptoms, including no fever (without the use of fever-suppressing medications). 

If you are a faculty or staff member and receive a positive test result from W&M’s ongoing testing or from another health service provider:

  1. Immediately isolate yourself in your residence and contact your health services provider. Avoid interactions with others, maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance and wear your face covering.
  2. Please visit ReportCOVID.wm.edu to fill out an intake form and advise your supervisor, dean or department chair. During regular business hours, a case manager will contact you. Please also visit If You’re Feeling Ill for instructions, especially if you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, whether emergency or mild.
  3. To return to normal campus activity after 10 days of isolation, you will need to be cleared to return to work by a physician and have gone at least 24 hours without symptoms, including no fever (without the use of fever-suppressing medications).
COVID-19 Case Management at William & Mary

William & Mary has established a network of case managers (all W&M employees) to help members of the community navigate living, study and work after a positive test result. Case managers will be assigned after you have completed the intake form at ReportCOVID.wm.edu. For students, case managers will serve as a point of contact throughout the isolation period, helping with the transition to isolation or quarantine housing as needed, and arranging for cleaning and disinfecting of campus spaces, among other assistance. For employees, they will help transition to remote work or leave, coordinate notification to departments and arrange cleaning and disinfecting. William & Mary will not identify the names of people who have contracted COVID-19 to the public or greater campus community.  

We understand that a positive test result is by its nature distressing. By establishing a care network, we hope to lessen the complications of navigating the university system as you work to remain well or recover.

We hope this information proves helpful and comforting,

Sam Jones
Chair, COVID-19 Response Team

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Start of in-person classes

August 28, 2020

Dear colleagues,

As we head into what I hope will be a safe and enjoyable weekend for everyone, I write to share an important announcement about our plan for the start of in-person classes:  William & Mary's in-person instruction for undergraduates will begin on Tuesday, September 8.  This affects only those sections designated as meeting in-person; our fully-remote classes will remain remote through the semester. 

If you have any questions, please contact your Dean’s Office.

Thank you,

Peggy Agouris
Provost

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COVID-19 Prevalence Testing Coming Soon

Editor's Note: Phased planning has amended some information in this message. At-will COVID-19 testing was offered for faculty and staff beginning the week of Sept. 8 and in October, William & Mary began offering the tests for free.

August 21, 2020

Dear W&M Employees,

As you know, William & Mary this semester is adopting a vast array of safety measures to promote a healthy campus this fall. One key aspect of this program is COVID-19 prevalence testing, by which random samples of students, faculty, staff and contractors are chosen periodically to take COVID-19 tests so the university can rapidly assess potential community spread. W&M will begin its prevalence testing next week, with 5% of the student population and 2% of employees testing every two weeks, pulled from the local and on-campus population. These tests are administered at no cost to you.

As a result, you may be chosen to conduct a test at the clinic at 332 N. Henry Street. If so, you will be notified by email and will be given instructions for making a testing appointment. Appointments will be considered hours worked for which you will be paid.

To prepare, William & Mary faculty and staff must immediately register with Kallaco Health & Technology at https://kallaco.wm.edu, which William & Mary is using to coordinate student and employee COVID-19 testing. To register, click “forgot password,” and do not use your W&M password for the account. Your Kallaco account is where you will see results of your prevalence testing.

If you are selected to participate in prevalence testing, your testing appointment will be considered hours worked, and you will be paid for that time. Your supervisor will also be notified that you have been randomly selected. If you are unable to schedule an appointment within the timeframe you have been instructed to, please work with your supervisor to coordinate when you will be tested. If you receive a notification of prevalence testing in error, because you will not be attending or visiting any William & Mary properties within the next six weeks, please contact [[COVIDResponse]].

 If you are sick or symptomatic when you are randomly selected, please stay home, contact your healthcare provider, advise your supervisor, and do not make a prevalence testing appointment. You will automatically be included in the next round of prevalence testing, approximately two weeks later.

To faculty members: Students are encouraged to make their appointments outside of class hours, but may be unable to do so. The provost has agreed that missing class or a portion of it for prevalence testing should be considered an excused absence. 

Participating in prevalence testing is a condition to which we have agreed in order to work and study in person at William & Mary under the Healthy Together Community Commitment. The information it provides allows us to better support your health, and for you to better support the health of students, colleagues and others in our community. It is mandatory. We hope you will participate willingly, but need to advise you that not participating will result in disciplinary action.

Finally, many of you have asked about William & Mary’s plans to offer voluntary COVID-19 tests for $15 to employees who are not displaying symptoms. We will begin offering some at-will testing beginning next week and will be ramping up as the national testing supply chain and testing options allow. We will provide additional information next week.  If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider; tests for symptomatic personnel are covered under all of W&M’s insurance plans.

Please continue to direct your questions to [[COVIDResponse]].

Thank you for your attention and I wish you a healthy and safe semester,

Peggy Agouris, Provost
Christopher D. Lee, Chief Human Resources Officer

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Staying Healthy Together: Dashboard & Accountability

August 18, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

As we welcome new students into the William & Mary community and formally start classes, the excitement of a new academic year is palpable. Seeing people wearing their masks on campus and in the surrounding community – hearing faculty and staff talk about connecting to students in Williamsburg and around the world – I feel pride and hope as the semester comes alive. To the new rhythms of a very different year, our community is coming together, near and far. 

Knowing how much this semester matters, to so many, this email updates you on issues at the front of many of our minds:

  • Testing and W&M positivity rates to date
  • Our new COVID-19 dashboard
  • Accountability for W&M’s Healthy Together Community Commitment and behavioral guidelines, and consequences for not complying

You are likely aware of the news about positive COVID-19 cases at some colleges and universities. Many of these institutions took different approaches to testing, campus density and/or required conduct. Many of the outbreaks to date have resulted from large gatherings of young adults, without masks and physical distancing.

We are closely watching these developing situations. It is imperative that we learn from them. The sobering lesson is that the William & Mary community needs to be all in on our strict health and safety protocols, on and off campus. The university has made systematic adjustments to reduce risk of transmission: instituting a phased return of undergraduate students; requiring a negative test before returning students can be on campus; implementing a comprehensive plan to reconfigure and de-densify campus; making maximum use of our beautiful campus outdoors and more. 

It would be unrealistic and misleading to predict there will be no cases in our community this fall. Yet it is within our control to limit the spread of this virus. So we share our expectations for accountability below. Mask up. Wash your hands. Maintain physical distance. Fully-embraced, these habits of care and respect will have a direct impact on the trajectory of W&M’s fall semester.

Sincerely,

Katherine A. Rowe
President

Testing and positivity rates

I have cautious good news to share about our return-to-campus testing positivity rates so far, which are very low. So low in fact (under 10 in the respective categories for students and employees), that providing them would compromise the privacy of those individuals who tested positive and who are not currently on campus. 

Starting next week, we will begin a program of prevalence testing, beginning with an initial sampling of 5% of the student body and 2% of the employee/contractor population. The frequency and population percentage will evolve based on campus trends, evolving science and available testing methods.

Dashboard

Our new COVID-19 Dashboard is updated daily. It offers regional data and information from W&M’s testing program. We’ll be adding specific information about W&M positive rates if/when they rise to the reporting threshold required.

Accountability

No one should take these early results as license to relax our vigilance. We need to turn these rules of behavior into habits of behavior. It is imperative that we all hold ourselves accountable for keeping our campus and neighbors safe:

  • W&M requires all employees and all students registered for courses to sign the Healthy Together Community Commitment and complete public health training. 
  • All have agreed explicitly to our guidelines as a condition of learning or employment: masking and physical distancing, hygiene, participation in testing and contact-tracing, self-quarantine and isolation and staying home when sick.
  • We are very grateful that the City of Williamsburg has joined us in these commitments.

For those unwilling to follow the necessary health and safety protocols, it is important to be clear that there will be consequences for violations.

  • Earlier today, Dean of Students Marjorie Thomas shared with all students W&M’s Fall 2020 COVID-19 Accountability We ask students and families to review these closely.

CHRO Dr. Christopher Lee is developing a parallel framework for employees based on our current HR protocols. He will communicate separately with employees next week.

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Update on W&M Financials for Staff and Faculty

August 11, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

This has undoubtedly been a challenging summer both physically and emotionally – for many of us, the challenge of a career. We thank you for your incredible dedication and commitment. As the fall unfolds, we will continue to make decisions in a phased manner, so as to align campus operations with the latest public health data and conditions. 

As a result of this uncertainty, we recognize how different the coming year will be for us all. Faculty and staff have put in enormous effort to ensure we can continue to adapt as conditions require. That careful preparation will be critical to prioritizing the health of our community while enabling our students to stay on their paths to their degrees, whatever comes. 

Our decisions are driven first and foremost by the health and wellness of our community. The actions we pursue together allow that to be the case. With that in mind, and as we begin the academic year, we must prepare for significant financial challenges as well. This email updates you on our thinking and our phased approach to those challenges. We are taking some initial actions to ensure William & Mary’s continued financial health and sustainability. We do so because the present and future livelihoods of so many depend on that, as does our educational mission. This email describes below:

  • Leadership salary reductions
  • A new voluntary furlough program
  • Retirement options
  • Temporary strategic reassignments

Here is the big picture. In coming months, we anticipate added expenditures related to COVID-19: physical modifications, testing and PPE, remote learning, and more. We increased student financial aid significantly this year and we rolled back tuition and fee increases. Should W&M be unable to open campus or unable to stay open, shortfalls would be very significant in all areas – beyond the scale of prior downturns.

We will develop a better understanding of our financial picture as we see how enrollments shape up for the fall and understand the outcome of the special session of the General Assembly scheduled later this month. At the August 25th Board of Visitors meeting, we will share updated financial projections for the 2021 academic year, based on the best available information.

With the above in mind, we are continuing diligently to reduce non-personnel costs and minimize new personnel costs. This includes delaying all hiring not deemed critical to our mission and strategic direction, restricting discretionary spending and operating budgets, and more. Requests from Cabinet leaders are being reviewed by NPERT (non-personnel exception review team) to advise the Provost and COO on what should be deemed mission-essential. All Cabinet leaders have been charged with sustaining these efforts through FY21.

Likewise, we are continuing to monitor our major sources of revenue, seek ways to support students, families, and employees, collaborate with our peer institutions (as we have with VCU Health), and advocate for higher education with the General Assembly. We do not yet know the full impact this fiscal year will bring. Yet we anticipate that under every scenario we will be in a very challenging financial environment.

With all of the above in mind, we are taking the actions outlined below to increase flexibility during this time of uncertainty. We are grateful for and humbled by what this community has demonstrated in a year that has been anything but normal. We will do everything we can to ensure that further financial impact is minimized. 

We will continue to work very closely with faculty and staff leadership to plan for a wide range of possibilities. Please know that we do this work with William & Mary’s values firmly in mind. We hope you will join us for the employee town hall today at 3 p.m. Eastern, when we will be discussing these issues and more. And please stay tuned for additional information on financial issues as details are finalized over the next several weeks.

Sincerely,

Katherine Rowe, President
Peggy Agouris, Provost
Amy Sebring, Chief Operating Officer

  • Leadership salary reductions. As an initial step, the President will request that the Board of Visitors decrease her compensation by 15% through the end of this calendar year. The Provost and COO have voluntarily reduced their compensation by 12%. While these reductions represent a small percentage of the projected budget gap, we feel it’s important to lead from the front when it comes to W&M’s most difficult decisions. The President will take her request to the Board at its August 25 meeting.
  • Voluntary furloughs. We will be implementing a new voluntary furlough program through the end of this calendar year. We recognize and empathize with the pressure that many working parents and others may be facing, especially as many K-12 schools in the area have announced their decisions to move at least the first nine weeks of the school year online. Under this program, employees may request approval from their supervisor for a voluntary furlough. Those approved for voluntary furloughs remain W&M employees for the duration of the agreement. More details, including how benefits are affected by a furlough, are available on the HR website
  • Retirement options. We note that some of our employees have been weighing retirement decisions and the uncertain environment may be accelerating that thinking. Human Resources can provide you with resources to understand your retirement options, if you are interested contact AskHR@wm.edu for a confidential conversation.   
  • Temporary strategic reassignments. To optimize our workforce and add capacity in key mission areas, we have begun assigning employees to areas where needs have increased significantly due to the impacts of COVID-19. Over the next several weeks, we anticipate that as many as 50 or more employees will make a temporary shift this fall from their previous positions to meet increased efforts in business operations, communications, emergency management, procurement, and student affairs. Cabinet members are working to specify critical areas of need and identify employees who can meet those needs. Employees who are candidates for reassignment will receive formal documentation in the next several weeks with further information. 

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Mandatory COVID-19 Health Video Series

Editor’s note: Phased planning has amended some information included in the Aug. 10 message. The deadline for student training has been extended to Friday, Aug. 28.

August 10, 2020

Dear W&M Community,

One aspect of our being able to reconvene this fall with health and safety foremost in mind is agreeing on best practices, and then committing to them, through the Healthy Together Community Commitment. To that end, the university has developed a series of training videos to teach the community about COVID-19 and how to protect ourselves and others in a campus environment.

This baseline training, designed for students, faculty, staff, contractors and vendors, introduces skills to promote the health of yourself and others. It outlines hygiene practices and how to best navigate situations in which the people around you don’t uphold our community’s standards. They are based in our shared values of “respect” and “flourishing,” by which we empower those who live, learn and work here to make choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.

The series consists of five modules:

  1. An introduction to the Healthy Together commitment, COVID-19 and its prevention
  2. A tutorial on mask use and requirements at William & Mary
  3. A review of proper preventative hygiene, including hand washing, the use of sanitizer and the difference between cleaning and disinfecting spaces
  4. Tips on how to handle situations in which people’s behavior diverges from our shared commitment to health
  5. A conclusion that reinforces the main points and offers additional resources

The modules are mandatory viewing for both students and employees on all of our campuses and properties as you return over the next several weeks.

Students may access the video series through Blackboard, and must view the training by 5 p.m. ET on Friday, Aug. 14 to ensure that no holds are put on their accounts.

Employees will access the series through Cornerstone Learning. Human Resources will send you an email detailing how to launch the training. For employees who do not have computer access, we will work with supervisors to make the training available to you. Completion of the training program must occur by Monday, Aug. 24. You will receive a reminder four days before the deadline, and you and your supervisor will be notified if you have not completed the training by Aug. 24.

While the series is mandatory, the COVID-19 Response Team hopes you will find the videos informative and reinforcing of the promises we’ve made to one another as community members through the Healthy Together Community Commitment.

We continue to invite your questions and comments at COVIDResponse@wm.edu as we implement the Path Forward: Fall 2020 plans.

I wish you a safe and productive semester,

Sam Jones
Chair, COVID-19 Response Team

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Adjusting phased return to campus

Editor’s note: Phased planning has amended some information included in the July 31 message. Exceptions have been made for a small number of A&S COLL freshman classes to begin and continue in person, and the individual graduate and professional schools are communicating directly the start date of their in-person classes. Room and board costs are being communicated with students in mid-August. -- Ed.

July 31, 2020

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

On Tuesday, July 28, Gov. Ralph Northam announced new restrictions on private and public gatherings in the Hampton Roads region and Peninsula, which includes Williamsburg. These appropriate measures aim to slow spread and reduce incidence of COVID-19, which had risen at the end of this month. In light of this evolving public health context, we are adjusting our phased return to campus correspondingly, so as to mitigate risk to the health of students, staff, faculty and neighbors.

You can read additional information for students and employees below and on our Path Forward website. 

Here are key points:

  • Undergraduate courses will begin on August 19 as planned. Graduate courses will also begin as planned by the respective schools;
  • We will slow the pace of student return to campus through August, to Labor Day Weekend, so as to minimize density and reduce circulation on/off campus;
  • We will delay the start of in-person undergraduate instruction until after Labor Day, so as to ensure consistent experiences for all students (on and off campus) during a more extended return to campus;
  • Deans will communicate details in each school, appropriate to the instruction plans already in place, which had anticipated the need to adjust throughout the semester.

William & Mary’s campus will be officially open on August 5. This delay from August 1 reflects potential impacts from Hurricane Isaias, and allows us to adjust operations in the early part of next week in a way that minimizes disruption. Please stand by for updates and alerts from W&M’s Emergency Management Team (EMT) as they track the storm.

From a learning perspective, we know that the best-case scenario is to have students on campus in person. These prudent measures ultimately increase our ability to be together as a community by decreasing the density on campus at a critical time. Extending the time between phases of return allows us to welcome new students in our community safely, helping them form connections.

This slower pace is also a good opportunity to establish and systematically reinforce compliance with our Healthy Together Community Commitment and our new health rules – mask wearing, social distancing and more. So over the coming weeks, W&M will be repeatedly stressing the new rules via regular guidance, online training, signage and more. 

At the end of the day, our students’ ability to sustain these commitments will determine our capacity to be together safely. The health and welfare of our employees, not just our students, depends on robust compliance. As I said in last week’s Town Hall, W&M students bring a special and very powerful commitment to building community. Yet, understandably those at greater risk worry about how consistently young adults will be able to adhere to these guidelines, on and off campus. So it’s important to be clear that W&M will be holding student groups and individual students accountable, as appropriate, when they do not comply. Those who breach these rules repeatedly will be sanctioned, and may be sent home for the semester. 

Please join me for more discussion on this and other topics at our next Town Hall meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 5. 

I know how disappointing the shift in arrival on campus will be for many students – who are so looking forward to returning – also how disruptive to families as they plan travel. It is equally disruptive for faculty and staff. An enormous amount of work has taken place to prepare our campus community for a successful fall and that work continues in earnest. 

Yet to fulfill our commitment to safeguarding the health of this community, it is imperative that we respond appropriately to changing pandemic conditions. In this as in other respects, Fall 2020 will be very different at W&M. As we continue making decisions with the best information available, adjustments like the ones announced today will be part of the semester. We are working with real-time information, assessing current conditions and predictions for future trends with expert advice – guidance from authorities in infectious disease, epidemiology and our regional public health partners. 

Against the unpredictable environment of COVID-19, we will do everything we can to continue to provide as much certainty as we can. Thank you for your continued patience and flexibility as we determine the best path forward.

Best regards,

Katherine A. Rowe
President

Specifics for students: 

  • The August on-campus move-in dates for the following groups of students are not affected by this adjustment. All testing and distancing protocols will remain in effect. These students should closely track EMT messages regarding Hurricane Isaias.
    • New students (freshmen and transfers)
    • Graduate students residing in university housing
    • International students
    • RAs and Head Residents
    • Orientation Aides and Assistants
  • All other students should delay their return. We anticipate bringing sophomores, juniors and seniors back to campus in early September.  We are aiming for Labor Day weekend. 
    • Room and board costs will be adjusted accordingly. Additional details will be shared early next week. 
    • Self-quarantine and testing schedules will be updated to reflect new return dates.
  • Student Affairs is finalizing a process to consider exceptions for students who have compelling personal circumstances for returning to campus as part of the initial group in August. 
    • Please contact care@wm.edu for assistance with any extenuating or special circumstances.
  • Deans and faculty will ensure personal engagement for all students, including those who live on and off campus, through the start of in-person classes.

Specifics for employees:

  • While many employees will return to work on campus on Wednesday, Aug. 5 (pending further EMT guidance on Hurricane Isaias), the university will remain closed to the general public as we phase in operations. Third-party use of university-owned or leased facilities is prohibited, regardless of there being a university sponsor for an outside group or activity. 
  • COVID-19 testing for those employees required to show negative tests before return to campus will continue as scheduled. (Again, pending EMT hurricane guidance.)
  • Offices that have face-to-face interaction should arrange meetings by appointment and observe W&M’s requirements for the use of face coverings, physical distancing, etc.
  • Full or partial remote work at William & Mary will require a telework agreement. Employees were advised of their unit’s in-person or remote requirements the week of July 20. The pace at which employees return to work on campus is outlined in those plans.
  • No university-sponsored travel (domestic or international) will take place, unless required to meet obligations of externally sponsored research or state scientific advisory services. The CRT also recommends that community members limit personal travel.
  • All invited speakers must present in a virtual format, whether invited for university-wide presentations or at invitation of professional and graduate schools, departments, professors or student groups.
  • Volunteers at William & Mary must provide this critical support remotely. Volunteer boards must hold their meetings remotely, including their executive and committee meetings.

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Healthy Together: A Community Commitment

July 27, 2020

Dear W&M Community,

As we face the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic and plan carefully for a 2020-21 academic year in-person and on campus, a commitment to community-wide actions is essential. Our ability to advance W&M’s mission during this pandemic will require each of us, without exception — faculty, staff and students — to comply with all COVID-related health and safety rules as articulated by university leadership generally, and the COVID-19 Planning Team in particular. All our constituencies agree: the health of W&M’s people must be prioritized as we prepare to welcome students and employees back to campus.

To this end, all members of the W&M campus community will be asked to affirm their commitment to shared actions to mitigate risk of spreading COVID-19, to show care and concern for others, and, thereby, to support the university’s ability to succeed during these most challenging of times.  Affirmation of the Healthy Together Community Commitment is required for anyone who will be living, learning, and working on campus this fall.

Students will have an opportunity to review and affirm the Healthy Together Community Commitment through the Personal Information Questionnaire that is being deployed today. Employees will receive a copy of the Healthy Together Community Commitment along with their PPE kits, and they will be asked to affirm the commitment as part of the required online COVID-19 training that will be made available by Human Resources via Cornerstone.

May we each commit to doing our part to mitigate risk, to actively demonstrate our care for the physical and emotional well-being of others, and to complete a successful year — together.

Sincerely,

Peggy Agouris, Provost 
Ginger Ambler, Vice President for Student Affairs
Amy Sebring, Chief Operating Officer

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COVID-19 Testing

Editor’s note: Phased planning has amended some information included in the July 22 message. While W&M is allowing student to upload rapid test results to satisfy requirements for move-in and on-campus activities, the university asks that students still complete the test process with Kallaco, which provides a different type of COVID-19 test. In October, William & Mary waived the copay for voluntary, at-will COVID-19 tests.

July 22, 2020

Dear William & Mary Students, Faculty & Staff,

As William & Mary moves into the Fall 2020 semester, the COVID-19 Response Team provides the following summary of the university’s testing protocol for students and employees. We are establishing a testing program that goes above and beyond state health and CDC guidelines and is designed to be responsive to the most at-risk populations within our community.

Recognizing that the health landscape continues to evolve, a robust testing effort allows us to monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 on campus among students and employees, and to track campus trends relative to those locally, within Virginia and nationally. Testing frequency and population percentage will evolve based on campus trends and available testing methods.

Who will do the testing?

William & Mary is partnering with the VCU Health System (VCUHS) for expanded physical and mental health services, including COVID-19 testing for students and employees.

If you are a student, how and when will testing occur?

All students are required to be tested before the fall semester. The timing of initial testing depends on when a student arrives on campus:

  • Students will receive a self-administered, mail-in test kit prior to coming to campus. Test kits will arrive in time for students to self-administer the test, mail it back along with the required consent form, and get test results before they are due to arrive on campus.
  • International Students will receive specific testing instructions in the next week to 10 days.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you must self-isolate at home or off campus until you have a confirmed negative test. Students who test positive will be mailed a retest approximately 10-14 days following the initial positive result.
  • Prevalence testing (initial sampling of 5% of the student body) will occur at least every two weeks. Testing frequency and population percentage will evolve based on campus trends and available testing methods.
  • Students who experience symptoms over the course of the semester should make an appointment with the Student Health Center for a clinical assessment and testing if necessary. The Student Health Center will provide instructions on necessary next steps.

If you are an employee, how and when will testing occur?

  • William & Mary employees are preparing for students to return to campus in early August. Supervisors on the main campus and VIMS’ campus will be communicating with employees this week, confirming that they will be working on campus, remotely or in a blended fashion as students begin returning to campus, as well as schedules for those modes of work.
  • All employees will have access to voluntary at-will testing through the VCUHS for a $15 out-of-pocket copayment, with the university covering the balance. The schedule and location for voluntary testing will be provided shortly.
  • Prevalence testing (initial sample of 2% of the employee/contractor population) will occur at least every two weeks. Testing frequency and population percentage may vary based on campus trends and available testing methods.
  • Employees or contract workers with positions that cannot maintain physical distancing, or where other work modifications to reduce virus spread are infeasible and impractical, will be tested prior to working with students. These employees will be contacted over the next two weeks with instructions for testing before students return to campus. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 will be expected to isolate and retest with a negative result before returning to work. 

Will there be testing at the end of the Fall 2020 semester?

  • William & Mary will cover the cost of a voluntary test for students and employees who wish to be tested prior to returning home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Testing schedules will be released later.

Thank you for your support of our testing effort.

Sam Jones
Chair, COVID-19 Response Team

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Face Covering Requirements July 15-Dec. 31, 2020

Editor’s note: Phased planning and increased understanding of COVID-19 has amended some information included in the July 14 message. Faculty are required to wear masks at all times in the classroom. Faculty members may not opt for face shields or plexiglass in lieu of masks. Face shields and plexiglass are additional and valuable aids, but do not replace the need to wear masks. Exceptions to this requirement  are only approved by the W&M COVID-19 Response Team at [[COVIDResponse]].

July 14, 2020

Dear William & Mary Faculty, Staff & Students,

As we move through this summer and into the fall semester, the COVID-19 Response Team is providing guidance regarding the required use of face coverings on campus from now through the end of the calendar year (July 15-Dec. 31, 2020). 

Compliance with these requirements is mandatory for this period.

General Requirements

  • University requirements for face coverings apply to all faculty, staff, students, contract workers, vendors and others who are on William & Mary’s various campuses or enter university owned or leased buildings.
  • Indoor public spaces: when in a facility, everyone should wear a face covering over the nose and mouth including building entry areas, classrooms and labs, libraries, conference rooms, hallways, elevators, restrooms, lounges and other shared spaces that allow for public interaction or gathering. The ability to physically distance within a space does not eliminate the above requirements.
  • Outdoor spaces: face coverings may be removed only when an uninterrupted 6’ distance can be maintained between you and other individuals for the continuous duration of an activity.
  • Face coverings include cloth or disposable masks or face shields. [Note: W&M policy has changed since this message was released: Faculty are required to wear masks at all times in the classroom. Faculty members may not opt for face shields or plexiglass in lieu of masks. Face shields and plexiglass are additional and valuable aids, but do not replace the need to wear masks. Exceptions to this requirement are only approved by the W&M COVID-19 Response Team at [[COVIDResponse]]. -- Ed.]

If you are a student:

  • All general requirements stated above apply.
  • You are required to wear a face covering when in a classroom, lab or other instructional space. The exact type of face covering may vary depending on the instructional environment (e.g., a university-provided face shield may be required in a lab).
  • All requirements apply to both indoor and outdoor co-curricular activities and spaces.
  • You are not required to wear a face covering when in your room or suite in your residence hall. 
  • You are required to wear a face covering when in university housing hallways, other shared spaces and hall baths (except when actively washing, brushing teeth, etc.).

If you are faculty, staff, contract worker, vendor or other:

  • All general requirements stated above apply.
  • Faculty and instructional support staff are required to wear a face covering in indoor or outdoor classrooms, labs and other instructional spaces. 
  • Teachers have the option to wear a face shield during instruction as an alternative to a cloth face covering, to enable learners to better understand their speech. A cloth face covering will be used immediately before and after instruction and when interacting with others and unable to maintain 6’ physical distancing. Other options shall be submitted to the COVID Response Team for approval. [Note: W&M policy has changed since this message was released: Faculty are required to wear masks at all times in the classroom. Faculty members may not opt for face shields or plexiglass in lieu of masks. Face shields and plexiglass are additional and valuable aids, but do not replace the need to wear masks. Exceptions to this requirement  are only approved by the W&M COVID-19 Response Team at [[COVIDResponse]]. -- Ed.]
  • Faculty and staff are not required to wear a face covering while in their private offices or work spaces where a physical distance of at least 6’ can be maintained. Open-floor plans can be enhanced through the reconfiguration of space, installation of plexiglass barriers, etc. 
  • Face coverings must be used when interaction with others precludes physical distancing, such as conferring with colleagues, advising students, etc.
  • Employees who move throughout buildings, including private office spaces, to perform their work (e.g. IT, maintenance, dining, library staff, etc.) must wear face coverings at all times.
  • Employees working in outdoor spaces are not required to wear face coverings as long as a 6’ physical distance from others can be maintained continuously during their activity.

Exceptions

As noted above, these requirements apply to all faculty, staff, students, contract workers, vendors and other visitors to campus. Students who require an exception to these requirements due to health concerns should request an exception from the Office of Student Accessibility Services. Employees should request an exception for health reasons through Human Resources.

Other measures being taken to mitigate risks as students and employees return to campus this fall will be discussed at a community Town Hall scheduled for July 20.

Compliance with these requirements keeps our campuses safer through the summer and into the fall. Thank you for your cooperation.

Sam Jones
Chair, COVID-19 Response Team

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Essential Information for Faculty and Staff

June 30, 2020

Dear William & Mary employees:

As we gear up for the fall semester, we understand that the return to classes this fall will be different. Fall 2020 brings the challenge of planning while still in the midst of a public health crisis and the uncertainty this entails. William & Mary has an obligation to meet our mission – which emphasizes the value of close learning relationships and of convening in person – to ensure that our students maintain momentum and complete their education.

William & Mary’s first priority is to support our students, faculty and staff as we navigate this challenge together. In partnership with the major medical centers in the Virginia public university system, William & Mary is taking a systematic approach to limiting the risk of COVID-19 transmission in face-to-face situations – via education, prevention, testing, tracing and treatment (including quarantine and isolation) – and via changes to how we teach, learn, and work together.

Accordingly, William & Mary is making changes to many campus functions for the fall to enable employees – faculty and staff – to do their best work possible under the circumstances. We write to share essential information for faculty and staff. Please read through all information, which includes:

  • W&M’s July-August planning timeline
  • Updated guidance for on-campus, blended, and remote work, including definitions of core on-campus functions
  • Updated health and wellness guidance
  • Updated timelines for temporary policies on remote work

Under the supervision of Cabinet members and Human Resources, specific plans for each department or unit will be developed and shared by managers the week of July 20th. Our plans will continue to be adjusted going forward to reflect evolving CDC and VDH guidance, public health contexts, and coronavirus research.

Sincerely,

Christopher D. Lee, Ph.D.
Chief Human Resources Officer

Amy S. Sebring
Chief Operating Officer

The following guidelines and resources outline measures W&M is taking to advance the health and safety of our entire campus community. These measures are part of a coordinated public health planning effort with peers in the Virginia public university system, Williamsburg-area health care officials, VDH, and SCHEV.

Essential information for employees about returning to work
W&M's COVID-19 Response

On March 12, 2020, Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic that is ongoing. William & Mary’s response to the pandemic and reopening follows Commonwealth guidelines.

The COVID-19 pandemic creates a unique challenge for our students, their families, faculty and staff as we strive to meet our educational mission. Pandemic conditions require William & Mary to adapt how we teach, learn and work in order to mitigate health risks for our community. Therefore, William & Mary is taking the following measures to advance the health and safety of our entire campus community while we continue to provide high quality teaching, learning, and co-curricular experiences for our students and conduct essential research.

These measures and temporary policies will continue through the duration of the pandemic or with specific end-dates as indicated below, whichever occurs first.

For Fall 2020, the university is preparing for an early opening and a primarily in-person semester, adapting our curriculum and operations consistent with Virginia’s public health guidelines for higher education. The university’s Path Forward: Fall 2020 lays out our commitment to highly engaged and close connections between teachers and students; that commitment underpins the effort to return to in-person experiences as appropriate under pandemic conditions.

The following guidelines and resources outline measures W&M is taking to advance the health and safety of our entire campus community. These measures are part of a coordinated public health planning effort with peers in the Virginia public university system, Williamsburg-area health care officials, VDH, and SCHEV.

Employee Guidelines for Returning to Campus
Planning and Preparation: July - August 2020

As indicated in a message from Sam Jones, director of W&M’s COVID-19 Response Team, all departments that are currently working remotely should continue to do so through July 31.

During the month of July, each member of the President’s Cabinet, in consultation with their direct reports, will determine the appropriate mode of work for each unit to meet the university’s mission most effectively, while making modifications as needed, given the current public health context.

  • By Friday, July 17, plans will be finalized for core on-campus functions and for those functions that should continue to work remotely. Supervisors will seek input from their employees prior to finalizing plans with their Cabinet member. Supervisors will communicate approved plans to their employees the week of July 20
  • Town Hall – A return to campus town hall meeting will be held on July 20 to discuss employee workplace safety and related matters
  • Campus physical adaptations will occur in July, to be completed before August 8, when students first arrive on campus
Core On-Campus Functions

Our primary goal is to continue providing W&M students an exceptional experience that is adapted to the realities of operating in the midst of a pandemic. Although not all experiences will be fully in person, our core functions will require direct interactions with students, and employees will return to campus to support those interactions. Cabinet members may identify other departments as core on-campus functions based on the type of work they perform and the constituents they serve. At minimum, core functions may include:

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Student services
  • Facility service and maintenance
  • Residence hall and dining support
  • Public safety
  • Technology support
  • Mail services for critical business
  • Student health and counseling centers

All academic departments and administrative departments that interact directly with students will be expected to develop plans to ensure that employees are available on campus to support student needs in ways that limit risk to employees. Some functions may blend in-person and remote modes of work based on the university’s needs and public health conditions.

Return to Campus Plans and Guidance

Cabinet members, in consultation with their direct reports, will develop plans for a phased reopening in August. Plans should consider adjusting modes of work to include:

  • Time: Adjust time, pace, and/or schedule of operating hours to de-densify workspaces (e.g. expand the work day, increase number of days in the work week, set different shifts, shorten service hours, four-day work week of 10-hour days, etc.)
  • Space: Arrange the physical environment to reduce contact (e.g. move offices or desks, install shields, select alternate spaces for service, etc.)
  • Movement: Restrict, limit, and/or control the movement of people (e.g. customers kept in certain areas, change break room use, limit interoffice visitation, etc.)
  • Technology: Use technology when possible to reduce physical contact (e.g. videoconference meetings, scheduling software instead of drop-in appointments, remote work, etc.)
  • Ways of Working: Change, adapt, evolve ways of working (e.g. seek process improvements such as electronic signatures, redesign of processes, adapt operations, etc.)

The goals of the plans will consider:

  1. How best to modify work conditions to minimize risk to students and employees via identifying work that should be on-campus, remote, or blended.
  2. How work spaces will be reconfigured or modified to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  3. Instances where work spaces cannot be configured to meet health guidelines and adaptations to office hours and work schedules that will reduce the number of employees in close proximity at any given time.
  4. Recognizing that some teaching activities and other services will be shifted to non-standard times (e.g., Saturdays or evenings), scheduling employees to ensure appropriate levels of support at key times.
  5. Ways to incorporate employee feedback.

Employees are expected to work remotely or work on campus in accordance with the plans developed by their unit head. Unit heads will be guided by W&M Cabinet members’ approved categorization of types of work. With these university categorizations in mind, supervisors are asked to be as flexible as possible to enable remote work to help limit the number of people on campus.

Blend of On-Campus and Remote Work

In some instances, a Cabinet member may determine that a department can continue working remotely, or blend modes of work, while meeting the university’s mission. These adaptations will reduce the number of employees on campus and aid in limiting coronavirus spread. It will be important to recognize that even as some employees continue to work remotely, their work-related activities still may require them to return to campus periodically. Thus, each plan for these departments should identify:

  1. The extent to which employees will be expected to continue working remotely
  2. Specify activities or circumstances that require employees to return to campus when they are needed.
Remote Work

For functional areas that do not require on-campus activity, the university will continue to encourage employees to work from home through December 31, 2020. Approval for W&M remote work policies have been temporarily expedited to enable remote work as determined by Cabinet members through the end of the calendar year.

  • General information about employment related matters connected to COVID-19 can be found on the COVID-19 Resources for W&M Employees website.
  • Given the challenges of ongoing pandemic, there may be times when employees require additional support. If you confront a particularly difficult circumstance, contact your supervisor, contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at (855) 223-9277, or contact HR at [[askHR]] or (757) 221-3169.
  • Visit W&M IT COVID-19 Response to be aware of our network and computer security updates.
Individual Responsibilities

As members of the university community, each employee is expected to adhere to William & Mary’s safety guidelines and protocols, including:

  • Mandatory participation in COVID-19 training
  • Maintaining proper hygiene
  • Self-monitoring of symptoms
  • Reporting if experiencing symptoms or directed to quarantine
  • Mandatory wearing of face coverings in public and other designated spaces
  • Maintaining appropriate distance from students and colleagues
  • Cleaning personal work spaces routinely to reduce transmission and allow housekeeping staff to focus on more intensive cleaning of public spaces
  • Complying with additional guidelines as stipulated by the university, state or federal government

The university will provide each employee with a wellness kit that includes face masks or shields as appropriate, hand sanitizer and wipes, plus additional cleaning supplies for individual work spaces.

Recognizing Individual Work Circumstances

An employee’s individual circumstances (e.g. childcare/eldercare, medical condition, etc.) may require adjustments to their work schedules or modes of work during the fall. Faculty and staff should notify their department head if they have concerns about being able to work in the mode (on campus, remotely, or in a blended manner) designated in their department’s plan. The department head will alert HR and the appropriate Cabinet member, who will review the department plan and functional need in the employee’s domain of work.

  • Cabinet members will assess whether adjustments can be made to provide flexibility, while ensuring the function is met and the department’s mission successfully delivered;
  • If adjustments cannot be made, Human Resources can identify whether the employee is eligible for the Commonwealth’s Public Health Emergency Leave and options provided through the federal Families First CoronaVirus Response Act;
  • An employee may be eligible for the university or state’s sickness and disability programs, earned sick leave, annual leave or other leave statuses;
  • For faculty or staff requests for accommodations due to a medical condition or disability, please contact [[askHR]] or call (757) 221-3169 for a confidential individual consultation.
Health and Wellness

W&M is here for you, providing support to help you do your best work during these challenging times.

Will COVID-19 testing be provided?
  • If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, your medical provider, in consultation with the Virginia health department, will determine if you should be tested for COVID-19. Symptomatic testing requires a doctor’s order. You can call a medical professional or your primary care physician for assistance.
  • In addition, plans are underway for William & Mary to provide partially subsidized, “at-will” COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic employees who would like to be tested. All employees will be eligible to receive testing, subject to availability, at one or more designated healthcare locations in the Williamsburg area. More information will be available by July 31.
Is there a way to track symptoms?

William & Mary is leading a development effort for daily symptom tracking. More information will be available by July 31.

Will W&M’s medical plan cover costs of testing and treatment?

Yes. If a medical professional orders a COVID-19 test for you or your covered dependent, it will be covered at 100% under all W&M-sponsored medical plans. All out-of-pocket costs (including coinsurance, copays and deductibles) related to testing and office visits are waived. Medical treatments or hospital stays are handled under existing coverage guidelines for employees and their dependents enrolled in W&M-sponsored plans:

COVA Care (pdf)
COVA HDHP (pdf)
COVA HealthAware
Optima Health Vantage HMO
Kaiser Permanente

How is W&M preventing the spread of illness at work?

Departments and offices are developing COVID work plans (pdf) that should address how they will operate to minimize risk to employees and students.

How is W&M incorporating the latest science about COVID-19 into our decision-making and response?

W&M’s decision-making and public health protocols are based on epidemiological modeling and analysis pursued in partnership with the major medical centers in the Virginia public university system (VCU, UVA, VT) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

W&M guidelines will continue to be adjusted based on research and analysis arising from that partnership and with our medical providers and testing suppliers. And we will respond as required to changing guidance from Richmond.

The president, provost, medical director and COVID-19 director meet weekly with public higher education peers in the Commonwealth. Those meetings enable concerted advocacy with Richmond for resources (CARES Act funds, testing, etc.), efficient collaboration (testing, campus reopening, curricular adaptation, etc.) and more. This close communication and partnership also allows William & Mary to advance our resources and protocols as scientific knowledge about COVID-19 improves and guidance from CDC and VDH evolves.

The Plan Ahead team includes two W&M epidemiologists as well as VDH and national data and modeling. William & Mary leadership welcomes ongoing input from experts in our community. Please contact Sam Jones, director of W&M’s COVID-19 Response Team with further questions.

Where can I seek further help and guidance?
  • EAP – Clearinghouse at (855) 223-9277 for personal, family, or workplace concerns to include free counseling, referrals to community-based resources, and training resources available to all full-time employees.
  • Human Resources – Safe Haven for all employee concerns, whether large or small, contact [[askHR]] for a confidential conversation.
  • Mandatory COVID-19 Training – Online training will be required of all employees before returning to campus full-time. This information will be available in Cornerstone and employees will be notified of its availability.
  • Resources for Leaders:
    • Supervisors and department heads will receive additional training and support via monthly Supervisors’ Forum and Managers’ Forum videoconference meetings.
    • Process Consulting Team. Managers who need assistance developing a return to work plan for their unit can receive assistance from an ad hoc cross-functional team from EH&S, Facilities, HR, and IT. For assistance, managers can contact [[HRguy]].

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W&M work guidelines through July 31 and fall public health protocols

June 26, 2020

Dear William & Mary Community:

On June 12, 2020 William & Mary released its planning process for the coming semester – the Path Forward: Fall 2020. That plan reflected the work of five Plan Ahead squads composed of campus experts – faculty, staff, students, administrators. It is based on collaborations with Commonwealth public higher education (including peer university public health and medical centers), CDC and VDH guidelines, and the Governor’s guidelines. 

I write to share updates on telework (below) as well as additional details now on our website about fall planning, including: 

  • Fall schedule/key dates
  • Protocols for mitigating risk to health: PPE, physical distancing in classrooms and workspaces, cleaning/hygiene, testing, symptom monitoring, case management, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation.

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.

We continue to move forward in a phased way: focusing on adaptations and flexibility, to mitigate risk to health, while ensuring we can sustain W&M’s mission of teaching, learning, and research. We ask the community to be aware that the public health context and VA directives will continue to change in the coming weeks. W&M leadership will continually evaluate our path forward in light of those changes.

Telework through July 31: current restrictions and/or guidelines for telework, campus events and on-campus building access continue. Virginia’s Phase 3 reopening does not change W&M’s campus-specific guidelines.

After July 31: 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 return to work timelines based on the university's mission and areas of work.

Going forward, we will continue to update the community on a weekly basis, to add clarity as frequently as we may. Coordinated through the COVID-19 Response Team, updates to the Path Forward: Fall 2020 have been added to the university’s COVID-19 website. Further messages will be coming early next week from the provost, vice president for students affairs, the chief operating officer and the chief human resources officer.

Thank you for your patience as we work through the details that will allow us to navigate the extraordinary challenges wrought by pandemic.

Sam Jones
Chair, COVID-19 Response Team

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Joint Assembly Leadership Message

June 16, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

We write to you today as the leadership of the Faculty, Staff, and Professional Assemblies to ensure clear communication and transparency to each employee at William & Mary during this time of uncertainty.

Earlier today, the Board of Visitors (BOV) passed a resolution authorizing, if necessary, temporary personnel actions in the coming year. Prior to this resolution, the university had no existing policy on temporary actions like furloughs or salary reductions; the available personnel options were essentially limited to permanent actions such as layoffs. The BOV action provides additional, more flexible tools should they be required in FY21.

  • A furlough is a temporary leave from work without pay.  It can be granted intermittently (e.g., one day per week or month) or for a period of time over consecutive weeks or months.  During a furlough, employees retain some benefits, most notably health and life insurance.
  • A temporary salary reduction is a reduction in pay for a specified time period.

President Rowe called Assembly leadership into these conversations in advance of this action and has committed to continue engaging with us throughout the year.  We support the university having the tools to sustain our workforce to the extent possible and affirm the following principles that would guide action:

  • William & Mary’s core learning mission will be preserved.
  • If necessary, the university will look first to temporary actions (e.g., furloughs and salary reductions), not permanent ones (e.g., layoffs).
    • Senior university leaders will be the first impacted.
    • In university-wide actions, we will seek to protect our lowest-paid employees (e.g., those making less than $50,000 annually) to the extent possible.
    • Temporary actions will not exceed 20% of a person's salary.

As states open back up, it is important to remember that the full economic impact to higher education will not be fully realized until months from now.  President Rowe and her Executive Leadership Team have committed to transparency as difficult decisions are made.

We commit, as your elected representatives, to hear your voices and advocate for you, particularly in the coming year.  We recognize you have received this message multiple times today, but we believe it’s important in these uncertain times that you know your Assembly is working hard for you.

Signed,

Thomas Ward, Faculty Assembly President
David Armstrong, Faculty Assembly President-Elect
Arielle Newby, Staff Assembly President
Robin Hollenbeck, Staff Assembly Vice President
Joe Wheeless, Professionals & Professional Faculty Assembly President
Mariellynn Maurer, Professionals & Professional Faculty Assembly President-Elect

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Campus operations through June 30, 2020

May 28, 2020

Dear faculty and staff,

First, thank you from the Emergency Management Team for your ongoing support in managing campus activities and programs as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. As we move into the summer months, a few reminders follow.

At this time, campus buildings remain locked and closed to the public. As President Rowe mentioned in her May 19 message, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s Phase I reopening of state businesses does not change this. Teleworking is, and should continue to be, the norm on campus through at least June 30. Supervisors should continue to be flexible in this matter. Only personnel who must be on campus to conduct university business should be in university facilities.

Employees who must be on campus should continue to follow the CDC’s COVID-19 safe health guidelines. Consistent with those guidelines and the governor’s May 26 Executive Order, all individuals on campus will be required to wear a cloth face covering in areas where social distancing cannot be maintained and in all shared areas of buildings. In the coming days and weeks, additional signage will be going up in campus buildings as a reminder of these guidelines. 

For any employees who must be on campus, please remember to:

  • Lock doors behind you as you enter and leave any building;
  • Maintain a small, dedicated footprint (enter by the same door, visit the same office, use the same restroom);
  • Depart campus as soon as business is complete. Limiting your time on campus helps make the work environment safer for those who must be here.  Note that recreation areas remain closed.

We anticipate more specific guidance from the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry and the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Education Work Group to be forthcoming and will update these guidelines, including those related to face coverings, accordingly.

The university’s Plan Ahead effort as well as the work of the Emergency Management Team continues as we prepare for students to return this fall.  We continue to monitor CDC and Virginia Department of Health guidelines as well as guidance from the governor as Virginia stages a phased re-opening. On campus, we are focused on being ready to safely re-open in the fall. The results of these efforts will be phased in throughout the summer.

Please continue to access the university’s COVID-19 website as the central source of information.

Stay well and safe.

Sam Jones, Emergency Management Team Chair
Ginger Ambler, Vice President for Student Affairs

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FY 2020 Performance Evaluations

May 26, 2020

Supervisors:

After receiving input from multiple department heads and supervisors, we are moving the completion of performance evaluations to the fall. At that time, employees will be rated for the period of May 1, 2019 through September 30, 2020.  Employees will have the opportunity to complete a self-evaluation in September and supervisors will complete evaluations and discuss them with their subordinates by the end of October.  The exact dates for the evaluation process will be announced in August. The existing evaluation process will remain the same for this year. 

With the above in mind, some departments have noted that the current process does not fit well with the work that is performed in their area. We welcome your input, ideas, and suggestions as we consider revamping the process for the future. Department Heads interested in piloting an alternative way of conducting evaluations should indicate their interest by sending a message to HRGuy@wm.edu.

Even with the delay in the formal evaluation process, employees should receive feedback to know how well they are doing, to be recognized for good work, and to receive suggestions designed to recalibrate performance that is off the mark before they are rated. Therefore, by the end of June, all supervisors are asked to provide feedback to their subordinates. This feedback should center upon what the employee is doing right, areas for potential growth and/or improvement, noteworthy contributions, and how the employee is demonstrating the university’s values. Formal evaluation forms are not required. The important thing is that you have a two-way conversation to exchange feedback. A simple summary, e-mail, or memo for the record of the conversation is adequate. The employee should receive a copy of the summary. You may want to ask employees to provide their opinion of their performance to date. This helps guide the feedback conversation and provides an opportunity to discuss discrepancies in perception. As part of the feedback session, you are welcome to review and revise employee performance goals. 

Supervisors can hold this discussion with employees via Zoom, Teams, or another electronic method.  The summary of the feedback session should be kept in the supervisor’s file and included as part of the formal evaluation this fall.  Supervisors needing assistance with how to hold or document a feedback session may contact Debbie Howe or Debi Jarvis in Human Resources. 

If you have any questions, you are welcome to e-mail them to HRGuy@wm.edu.

Regards,

cdl

Christopher D. Lee, Ph.D., SPHR
Chief Human Resources Officer
William & Mary

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W&M from May 16 to June 30, 2020

May 19, 2020

Dear W&M Faculty and Staff,

On March 11, as we were beginning to understand the impact of COVID-19, I laid out four goals that would guide the university through the spring – through the rapidly changing conditions of an evolving pandemic. With extraordinary effort, over two months of quarantine, we held to that course: safeguarding the health of our community; continuing to teach and learn so that our students could complete the semester; adjusting our research and university operations so that W&M employees could keep working as long as possible; helping to slow the spread of the virus.

This past Saturday, May 16, we conferred degrees in the class of 2020 in W&M’s first virtual degree-granting ceremony. As I listened to students and colleagues last week, I heard hearts full of mixed emotions – joy and loss. I also heard a community fully present to each other. For this beautiful weekend, joy held sway: from a surprise alma mater serenade (waking the president early Saturday morning) to Instagram posts from thousands of graduates, justly proud of their ability to adapt.

As we turn to the summer session (online still), the university is rapidly planning for the 2020-2021 academic year. In my message on May 6, I shared our emerging thinking and the principles that will guide us in that process. This email outlines how the university will operate in the near term and shares a very preliminary picture of our financial position going into FY21. Fuller updates on academic planning and financial forecasts will come in June.

In Virginia, the Governor has issued parameters for a phased reopening, beginning last Friday. William & Mary will align with those guidelines. We are operating prudently, working in close collaboration with our City leadership, Commonwealth peers, the Secretary of Education, and Department of Health. 

Conditions continue to change weekly and uncertainty remains. So we will approach our decisions in a phased way going forward, as we have done all spring. Working in a phased mode, we benefit from the most knowledge possible, to make the best decisions we can under the circumstances. I will continue to update the community frequently, with deep gratitude for your patience and your attention.

Some things we understand much better today than we did two months ago – bringing clarity that is both sobering and hopeful. We now know that the coronavirus will be with us for months to come. There will be no swift “snap back” to life as we knew it in 2019. 

There is clear evidence that the actions we took this spring helped flatten the curve of this pandemic and saved lives. Moreover, months of quarantine have gained our health care and scientific communities time to respond. Every day, our physicians and scientists increase our understanding of COVID-19. Testing capacity and PPE supply are expanding, treatments are improving. We have time to prepare now, using our growing knowledge, that we didn’t have this spring.

Much important work lies ahead. As the semester wraps up – and as we pause for a four-day Memorial Day weekend – I hope you will take time to rest and recharge. W&M has accomplished much during these difficult two months of quarantine, due to the dedication of our students, their families, our faculty, and our staff.

As I shared with the Board last week, navigating a pandemic well takes extraordinary effort, creativity, and compassion. No one could sustain such effort as successfully, alone, as we have done together. William & Mary is blessed with a campus community that pulls for each other. 

Stay well,

Katherine A. Rowe
President

University operations through June 30, 2020

With Phase I of the Governor’s reopening begun and his “Stay At Home” order set to expire June 10, W&M will continue to exercise prudence in university operations. More university-specific details may be found on our COVID-19 website but here are the headlines:

  • The Governor's Executive Order # 61 (2020) provides the following guidance, effective through June 10, 2020: “Institutions of higher education shall continue to cease all in-person classes and instruction and cancel all gatherings of more than ten individuals. For purposes of facilitating remote learning, performing of critical research, or performing essential functions, institutions of higher education may continue to operate, provided that social distancing requirements are maintained.” Theaters, museums, arts centers and other indoor entertainment centers remain closed.
  • The City of Williamsburg will also be moving through parallel reopening phases
  • For the present, W&M employees should expect to continue to telework under current practice at least through June 30, 2020 – an extension from the previously announced June 15 deadline. Signage reminding employees of the current practice guidelines will be posted in buildings across campus. 
  • University buildings will remain in a “locked, but not closed” status at least through June 30. Only employees with authorized key/card access are allowed to enter buildings. Employees who need to access a building should lock the door behind them.
  • As local guidance changes, we will update faculty and staff.
  • Systematic cost avoidance efforts will continue through the end of the fiscal year. Deans and managers will also continue to provide guidance specific to your schools and units.

Outlook for FY21 

The financial outlook for FY21 remains uncertain so we are planning with that in mind. We will know more in June, as we finalize our plans for the Fall Semester and once the Commonwealth closes its books for FY20. At that point, we will share additional approaches to flatten the curve of financial impact. For now, here is our preliminary view of the challenges ahead. 

  • The revenue picture. Because student tuition and fees remain W&M’s largest source of revenue, our ability to ensure that W&M continues to teach and learn will have a direct impact on our financial position next year. Beyond the question of whether the pandemic allows us to conduct classes in person, a number of other factors will also come into play. Our research programs will be affected by funding from the federal government and other external sponsors. Philanthropy will be influenced by market performance and the impact on personal wealth. And the impact of COVID-19 on Virginia’s economy undoubtedly will impact the level of state support we receive next year. 
  • Commonwealth context. In prior recessions (2001, 2008) VA higher education saw state funding reductions of 20% or more. The initial projections from the Commonwealth are sobering. Last week, the Secretary of Finance reported that state revenues for the month of April fell $700 million compared to April revenues in the prior year. Although difficult to predict, the Commonwealth appears to be on track for a $1 billion revenue shortfall this fiscal year.
  • National context. Some higher education industry analysts project COVID-19 related enrollment declines as high as 20%. The potential for ongoing travel bans may limit options for international students or domestic students seeking study abroad. High unemployment levels may constrain some families’ options. Modifying our operations to provide for the safety of our students, staff, and faculty during a pandemic also increases costs.

In the face of the above uncertainty, we must plan for declines in revenue between 5% and 20%. To give you a sense of what those percentages mean: reductions at the lower end of this range mirror many of the budget conditions W&M has navigated in prior economic downturns. At the higher end, we recognize the potential for dramatic shifts across multiple revenue streams at the same time, paired with the increased expense of operating under pandemic conditions. 

We are planning for the worst case scenarios while driving towards the best case. The thoughtful and focused effort of so many on campus this spring – to eliminate discretionary spending, freeze hiring, adapt operations, and remain focused on our educational mission – has made a difference. 

  • Closing out FY20. I am pleased to report that our effort to reduce spending in this fiscal year is bearing fruit. We forecasted a $13M-$32M deficit by August; we are trending towards the low end of this range. Impacts to date have largely been in auxiliary services and were covered by auxiliary reserves. We will update the campus on our financial position once we close the fiscal year and will continue to update you as we learn more about the impact for FY21.
  • Positive signs in fall enrollments. Our initial look at fall enrollments is optimistic. Our deposits for the incoming class are strong and our returning students overwhelmingly have indicated that if they are able, they want to be with us in the fall. We want that too!
  • Our mission-critical review of budgets across all units will help us establish a shared understanding of how we currently use our resources. That understanding will help us prioritize expenditures if we are faced with limited resources in the coming year.

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Operating under pandemic and planning for the coming academic year

May 6, 2020

Dear William & Mary Community,

Even as we move through the exam period for the spring semester, William & Mary is actively planning for the year ahead. Our goal is to be able to resume learning in-person in the fall, so long as it is safe to do so. We recognize the uncertainty so many are feeling. So this email aims to add clarity where we are able. Below my signature, you will find a high-level view of our current operations under the pandemic and an introduction to our planning process for next year.

In June we will have more details to share about ways we can prepare for the upcoming academic year. Next week we will update the campus on financial projections for FY21. Next week we will also share our expectations about work conditions after June 10, based on the Governor’s evolving guidance. We are continuing to make decisions in a measured, phased way, taking the steps required to flatten the curve of financial impact due to COVID-19.

This spring has clarified much about why we value face-to-face learning at William & Mary – and why we seek to return to it with such a strong sense of purpose. Cognitively: studying together speeds and deepens learning in myriad ways. Research has shown this; the challenges of learning under quarantine prove it by direct experience. Socially: collaboration accelerates the creation of new knowledge much faster than solo effort. Above all, working and learning in company strengthens the deep human connections we prize at William & Mary.

With these values in mind, we have much work to do to assess the adaptations to campus and curriculum that will be needed next year. In this effort, we have good partners. The May planning process described below aligns with similar planning at Virginia’s public higher education institutions and with the Dept. of Education. We track the Virginia Department of Health guidelines daily.

Bringing our campus back together safely is an enormous task and also a hopeful one because it is a key step in the path forward to a post-COVID-19 William & Mary. We will continue to share updates as new information becomes available, create opportunities for feedback and find ways to connect virtually. While planning within such an uncertain environment is stressful, the strength and creativity we can bring to that task – working together – is rewarding and sustaining.

Stay well,

Katherine A. Rowe
President

Operating under pandemic

In the weeks since the beginning of the pandemic, campus leadership has been engaged in two main efforts – emergency management and adaptation – adjusting academic, administrative and staff operations to safeguard the health of the community in an ongoing way. This month we are adding a third effort: planning ahead for next year. For more transparency, we’ve created a graphic that sketches these three strands of work and their relationship to each other.

May 2020 planning for fall 2020 and beyond

It’s important to remember that W&M does not control the surrounding public health context; decisions by the federal government and by Virginia’s leadership will frame the university’s options in the months ahead. Yet much is in our control that promotes resilience: creative adaptations to the structure and rhythms of our curriculum and adaptations to our physical plant, operations and modes of work that safeguard health. 

With these adaptations in mind, I have charged a small, multidisciplinary planning group to assess potential solutions for the coming fall and present them to me by the end of the month. Working in five small squads, this planning group will identify strategies to advance curricular flexibility and operational resiliency, help de-densify campus, create career pathways for our graduates and engage the wider W&M community in broad calls to service to support the most vulnerable in our communities. 

Key principles for adaptation

  • Safeguarding the health of our students, staff, faculty and surrounding community. We will follow guidance from the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health to ensure that we can continue learning and working safely.
  • Creativity and flexibility. An entrepreneurial mindset that begins by asking “how might we?” and acknowledges the different needs in our community.
  • Collaboration. Any path forward we pursue must involve consultation with W&M student leadership, faculty and staff leadership, colleagues in Virginia higher education, state leadership in Richmond and in the broader Williamsburg area. All generative questions and ideas are welcome.

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Campus Community message

April 28, 2020

Dear Campus community:

Last Thursday, the Executive Committee of the Board of Visitors (BOV) met to hear updates about the university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with all members of the BOV participating. This is the second time in its history that a BOV committee met virtually under rules established by the Attorney General in response to the State of Emergency in Virginia. At last week’s Reconvened Session, the General Assembly approved the Governor’s recommendation to give state governing boards the authority to conduct business electronically beyond pandemic- related issues. The full Board will meet electronically on Tuesday, May 12th.

President Katherine Rowe and the senior leadership team briefed us on the various efforts across campus to respond to the crisis and prepare for the future. You can find details of our meeting here. As we begin to plan for next year and ways in which we can “flatten the curve of financial impact for our community,” the Board and administration concurred that freezing tuition and mandatory fees for all students at the current year’s level was critical, as were other prudent decisions to freeze new hiring and limit other costs.

What has been especially evident to us is the very thoughtful and capable manner in which the university community has responded to this emergency. The administration and the Emergency Management Team have responded effectively from the very beginning of this pandemic and will continue to work to protect the safety of our community. The entire faculty — Provost, deans, department chairs and faculty members — quickly moved more than 2,000 classes to distance learning, ensuring that teaching remains vibrant despite a mid-semester interruption and that our students remain the focus. Staff throughout the university are offering many services virtually and also ensuring that our campus remains safe and ready for our return. And our students have stepped up as well, engaging in the transition to online classes, cheerfully offering their professors Zoom tips, and working to fill emergency needs of students and neighbors.

I also want to recognize and thank President Rowe, Provost Agouris and the entire leadership team for their thoughtful, empathetic and strategic stewardship. Throughout this crisis, they have been steady, driven and focused on the things that mattered. Looking forward, the “Plan Ahead” initiative will allow us to pivot to a post-pandemic future in a way that both capitalizes on lessons learned and makes W&M more nimble.

Normally, during this part of the academic year, we have the opportunity to acknowledge those who are graduating, being promoted or awarded tenure, and those who are retiring. We will indeed have the chance in the future to celebrate those milestones appropriately. For now, on behalf of my colleagues on the Board, I want to recognize the incredible leadership and efforts by each of you.

We have faced many challenges throughout our 327-year history. I have no doubt that we will emerge from this a stronger community and institution.

With best wishes,

John E. Littel
Rector

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Flattening the curve on the financial impact of COVID-19

April 24, 2020

Dear William & Mary Community,

In the past two months, we have all witnessed the staggering impact of COVID-19 on our nation’s public health and economy. We have begun to see the positive effects of self-quarantine measures in flattening the curve of COVID-19 infection. I feel great pride in our community’s shared commitment to this effort, despite the sacrifices that it has entailed. William & Mary will continue to do our part to protect our healthcare workers and safeguard the health of our community.

Over the past weeks and through next year, we strive to flatten the curve of the financial impact on W&M, our faculty, students and families, staff and region. The global pandemic has created immense financial vulnerability. We must be attentive to the changed circumstances of families and organizations in Virginia and around the world.

William & Mary’s responsibility to steward our resources prudently is understandably at front of mind for all in this community. So I ask you to read what follows with care. I write to sketch broadly the projected financial outlook for William & Mary as we understand it at present – and outline the steps we are taking to support the extraordinary students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents who sustain the university’s mission. By providing as much transparency as possible, I hope to sharpen our focus on what matters most and to ease some of the uncertainty we all feel.

A challenging financial outlook

William & Mary faces considerable financial impact now as a result of the pandemic. Currently, we project losses ranging from $13 million to $32 million through August 2020. These figures stem from lost revenue (study abroad, summer programs, athletics, housing, dining and parking) and new, unanticipated expenses (for software and technology needed to move learning to remote delivery, facilitate faculty and staff working at a distance, increased costs related to facilities cleaning and supplies, as well as emergency support for students in need).

Looking ahead, we must prepare for possible reductions in state support in FY21, as the Governor and General Assembly have predicted significant revenue shortfalls. This week, the General Assembly reconvened to finalize legislation passed this year, including the state budget. At present, all new expenditures have been unallocated. We will have a clearer picture of this impact when the state closes the books for this fiscal year and revises its revenue forecast later this summer. 

Prudent stewardship of resources

William & Mary’s funding model centers on people. Student tuition and fees make up our biggest source of revenue. Our largest expenditures are on salaries for the faculty and staff who support teaching, learning, research and our varied university operations, from student financial aid specialists, to career services, to facilities. 

As we navigate cost-saving measures, our mission remains our north star. We bring together exceptional people to learn and pursue knowledge at the highest levels. An outstanding university workforce is built slowly, over time, to achieve the quality of expertise and human understanding – and the commitment to community – that distinguishes W&M faculty and staff.

For William & Mary, flattening the curve of financial impact for our community will mean balancing awareness of the economic vulnerability of students and families with preserving our dedicated workforce for the long term. We will take a phased approach, beginning with the following prudent steps. As the economic picture becomes clearer, in the coming weeks and months, we will keep the community apprised of further steps that may be needed to safeguard W&M’s financial health and the financial health of those in our community.

We ask everyone in our university community to aid in this effort by embracing the actions below. 

  • Freeze hiring. William & Mary has paused all hiring, except for mission-critical positions, at least through the summer.
  • Extend restrictions on William & Mary travel. The policy on university-sponsored travel implemented in March will continue through August. 
  • Limit and defer spending. Reducing non-essential expenses is one of the most effective and immediate ways we can ensure William & Mary and its people flourish. The Governor and General Assembly have frozen all discretionary spending for the remainder of this fiscal year.
  • Review all current budgets to assess and prioritize mission-critical functions, regardless of fund source. This week Provost Agouris and Vice President Sebring launched an in-depth review of all budget areas across the university. Through this process, we will engage collectively in establishing a shared understanding of our financial position and ensure that we align available resources – including curricular resources – to support the programs and people that are at the heart of William & Mary.
  • Identify creative approaches. Innovation is in William & Mary’s DNA. Our faculty and staff will find creative ways in this time to reduce cost and generate new revenue.

Supporting our students and families

We are deeply cognizant of the financial vulnerability felt by our students and families and we will continue to provide support, beginning with the following actions.

  • Zero increase in tuition and mandatory fees. At yesterday’s Board of Visitors’ Executive Session, the Board and the administration concurred that tuition and fees should remain flat for the upcoming year. This will include tuition and fees for all students, in-state, out-of-state, undergraduate, graduate and professional. Rector Littel and members of the Board supported this freeze and will officially vote to approve the recommendation when the full board meets in May.
  • Deployment of federal stimulus dollars. William & Mary will deploy $1.97 million in federal stimulus funding earmarked for student relief via the CARES Act. 
  • Emergency fund support. William & Mary’s Student Affairs division continues to support students with urgent needs for housing and food using money from the HEART Fund and other emergency funds – including near-term support for students in need not covered by CARES Act funding. 

Planning for the next 18 months 

Next week I will launch a swift, cross-university planning process to build scenarios for in-person learning on campus in Fall 2020 and beyond. Five coordinated teams will focus on short-term solutions for mission-critical areas of the university: curricular flexibility, operational resilience, how we might de-densify campus spaces, how we might expand career pathways for graduating seniors and recent alumni. And finally, how W&M might take the lead in issuing broad calls to service at this critical time, in order to strengthen our communities near and far. 

The work ahead will continue to be challenging in unprecedented ways and uncertainty will remain high. Yet I look forward to the coming months with optimism. The creativity and resilience of our people have proved our most valuable resources. 

We’ve learned in the past six weeks that together, we’ve got this.

Katherine A. Rowe
President

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Supervisors Forum on Tuesday - Learning is Working: Supporting Employee Development

April 17, 2020

Supervisors:

Great performers and great performances do not just appear magically.  They are usually preceded by guidance, support, encouragement, and development.  The performer--the employee--is usually provided with the ingredients for success by a coach--supervisor.  Join the next Supervisors Forum to hear more about the learning resources available to help supervisors development their teams.

Learning is necessary to help us all perform and adapt to changing circumstances, now more than ever.  A portion of everyone's workweek should be dedicated to filling and refining one's professional tool bag.  The topics that will be discussed on Tuesday, April 21st at 2:00 p.m. include the following:

  • (COVID-19 related HR/Personnel Updates)
  • W&M's Learning Philosophy - A 5% guideline
  • A preview of the four Faculty and Staff skills needed for the future
  • How to create tailored curricula for your department and specific individuals
  • An overview of Cornerstone Resources
  • Swem Library Resources accessed through Cornerstone
  • Three cases studies of W&M departments 'modeling the way'

If you have suggestions or requests for learning topics to be discussed on Tuesday, please send them to HRGuy@wm.edu.  We look forward to discussing the imperative for all of us to embrace the learning opportunities before us with you on Tuesday.

Best Regards,

cdl

Christopher D. Lee, Ph.D., SPHR
Chief Human Resources Officer
William & Mary

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A weekend for Commencement and May celebrations

April 17, 2020

Dear W&M Community,

So much feels different about this spring semester. We are living, learning, and connecting with one another in new ways. And, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, we are missing being physically together on our beautiful Williamsburg campus. 

For members of the Class of 2020, this reality is especially keenly felt as we approach the time of degree completion in May. So the Commencement Committee has been hard at work to bring clarity. Our conclusion is that the Class of 2020 deserves to be celebrated fully. In the spirit of “both/and,” we will honor them in both May and October, both virtually and in person, in ways that are traditional, new, and joyful. 

We write to share W&M’s plans for both in-person and virtual celebrations. Please mark your calendars. More details about each event will follow. We will also post updates and FAQs regularly on W&M’s Commencement website.

A Weekend for Commencement Celebration: October 9-11, 2020
Please hold the long weekend of October 9-11, 2020 as this year’s Commencement Weekend in Williamsburg. Graduates and their families will enjoy all the pomp and circumstance this ancient university has to offer. They will take part in our most cherished traditions: ringing the Wren Bell, Candlelight, the Walk Across Campus, formal exercises in full regalia, and the personalized school/departmental ceremonies with faculty. It will be glorious.

More details about October to follow from the Commencement Committee. As always in these uncertain times, we will adhere to Virginia’s public health advisories to ensure the safety of all participating in and supporting events in the coming year.

Special Celebrations and New Traditions Planned for this May
We must also find meaningful ways to celebrate the Class of 2020 this spring. As the Commencement Committee affirmed, such celebrations should be joyful and different – they should not simply replicate the in-person events to come in October. 

Here are our creative solutions:

  • Personal Bell-Ringing on the Last Day of Classes (Friday, May 1) – In October, graduates will have the opportunity to ring the Wren Bell in person. Yet W&M tradition holds that students celebrate with bell-ringing on their last day of classes at the university. So to all 2020 graduates: we invite you to submit a video of yourself ringing a bell on May 1st. Wherever you are and with whatever kind of bell you choose – a bicycle bell, a dinner bell, a hand bell, a jingle bell – we hope you will unite in joy by ringing in this milestone moment. We will share those videos online for all to see.
  • Virtual Ceremony Recognizing Degree Candidates (Saturday, May 16) – The Chancellor, President, Provost, and Deans will preside over a virtual ceremony for all graduates of the Class of 2020 – undergraduate, graduate, and professional. Virtual activities on May 16 will feature photos submitted by members of the Class of 2020. Recognizing that celebrating with their faculty is important to students, schools and departments are being invited to host gatherings online after the virtual ceremony. We are working with departments on those arrangements now.
  • Graduation Gratitude: a New Tradition – This spring semester has been challenging for members of our campus community and for our Class of 2020 in particular. Through it all, our sense of community is strong and we have persevered – even found ways to flourish – because others have lifted us up. As May 16 nears, all degree candidates are invited to send a note of thanks or appreciation to another member of the W&M community who has helped them in these months leading up to graduation – a beautiful new tradition for the Class of 2020 to inaugurate.
  • Regalia – The W&M Bookstore will assist all degree candidates who needto order regalia (cap/mortar board, robes, hoods). Though graduates will not be expected to wear regalia until the October 9-11 Commencement Weekend, we recognize that many may want to take graduation photos between now and then. Some may even choose to don regalia on May 16 as they enjoy the virtual ceremony with family and friends. 

The Commencement Committee will send additional, detailed communications in the coming weeks to degree candidates and families. Updates will include information about prizes & award nominations, diploma mailing, the timeline for ordering regalia, and registering for October’s ceremony tickets. 

Here’s to you, William & Mary’s remarkable Class of 2020!

Katherine Rowe
President

Ginger Ambler
Chair, Commencement Committee and Vice President for Student Affairs

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Connection and Wellness – Reinstituting Open Office Hours Virtually with the Provost

April 13, 2020

Editor's note: The provost's office sent an update to this announcement on April 29, saying that open office hours sessions will take place on Friday, May 1. There will be two 30-minute sessions, one beginning at 3 p.m. and another at 3:30 p.m. To join the conversation, email Christy Fielder, who will send a Zoom link to access the call.

Dear Campus Community,

As we close in on nearly a month of COVID-19 remote work characterized by physical distancing, I can’t help but reflect on the unique ability of all of you – the individuals of our William & Mary community – to stay true to our value of deep human connection.  Across our schools and programs you are finding creative and resourceful ways to reach out and connect with one another.  I hear this happening in so many ways such as: 

  • Arts & Sciences having weekly virtual breakroom conversations across the extended Dean’s Office staff to support one another’s adjustment to remote working;
  • Mason School of Business using its UiPath software robot to cruise Blackboard in order to identify and then reach out to students who seem to be at risk for disengaging; and
  • The Law School offering the option to join a virtual coffee every Wednesday morning for all staff and administrators to share fun things individuals are doing outside of work, share jokes and support one another. 

Connection is a point of pride at William & Mary and now it is more essential than ever.  During the current crisis we may be forced to be physically distant, but we do not need to be socially isolated.  Please continue to find enjoyable ways to stay connected with your colleagues to boost their spirits as well as your own!

Many of my prior communications have focused with urgency on policies and work modifications related to ramping up for remote teaching.  These are all important matters, and I am deeply grateful for your responsiveness to nimbly transition to an improvised remote learning platform in such a short period of time. The Studio for Teaching and Learning Innovation continues to offer a wealth of support for you through its Keep Teaching web site.  I also deeply appreciate all you are doing to keep our students engaged.  Please continue to keep an eye out for those students who might be struggling and in need of additional support so that we can intervene to keep them engaged.

In this particular communication I’d like to focus on you taking good care of yourself during this pandemic.  Your individual health and wellness are of paramount importance. In addition to taking the recommended steps to protect yourself from coronavirus, I hope you are also practicing your own self-care.  Health and wellness as an intentional practice will help us all stay strong, nourished, exercised, and emotionally resilient.

  • If you are looking for excellent resources in this area, please check out William & Mary’s Virtual Health & Wellness site.  This site and the Virtual Fitwell series offer you an impressive range of options to support your health and wellness.
  • The School of Education also offers a remote gentle yoga and mindfulness session via Zoom every Monday at 8 am and Wednesday at 2 pm. 

During this pandemic our minds are focused not only on ourselves, but also on our families.  As a mother, daughter and spouse myself, I know it is a trying time to take care of children, aging parents, as well as ourselves.  For all of us who have children at home the remote K-12 schooling requirement is an added challenge.  Keep an eye out in the W&M News for At-Home learning resources occurring through our School of Education.  For example, webinars on learning at home for parents and teachers (in both English and Spanish), mindfulness in the virtual classroom, support for students with IEPs and special needs, virtual tutoring, and more. 

We are an institution of learning.  We have all been drawn to higher education because we believe in the power of the mind – its potential for creativity and discovery.  Do try to make time for a little respite; you can feed your creative and intellectual appetite with some of the amazing offerings through the Muscarelle Museum, Swem Library, and Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS):

In closing I would personally like to stay connected with you in order to hear your thoughts not only about work and what we can do to help, but also just to hear how you are doing.  Therefore, I am reinstituting the Open Office Hours that I had started in the Fall.  My plan is to hold open office hours for faculty and staff twice a month to drop-in via Zoom.  I will also hold a monthly open office hour with students.  I would like these sessions to be informal and interactive (children and pets are welcome).  We will modify as we go based on the interests of the group.  My main objective is to hear what’s on your mind and to get to know you better as I continue to become more acquainted with the amazing community of William & Mary.  Please come visit with me!  Christy Fiedler will be reaching out with more information.

In the meantime, stay connected with one another and take good care of yourselves and your family.

Peggy Agouris
Provost

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Serving our communities during COVID-19

April 10, 2020

Dear William & Mary community –

Service is one of the university’s core values, and we have seen that in action throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. From students donating their rebates to others in need to our makerspaces creating personal protective equipment for first responders and healthcare workers, the people of W&M are finding ways to support one another, their families and their communities during this challenging time.

Today, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced another option for those looking to serve the greater good: an opportunity to join the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps. While students majoring in health sciences and/or people with medical experience are preferred, opportunities are available for anyone willing to serve.

For more information, email vamrc@vdh.virginia.gov. You can sign up to volunteer on the Virginia Volunteer Health System website.

We are so proud of this community and the way it has shown its heart — from small acts of kindness to larger efforts — in response to COVID-19. Please continue to stay safe and look out for one another.

Sam Jones and Ginger Ambler
Co-chairs, W&M Emergency Management Team

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Standing with William & Mary

April 8, 2020

Dear William & Mary Community,

In recent weeks, I have witnessed the Alma Mater of the Nation standing together in the face of a global pandemic. With great strength of purpose, William & Mary students and their families, faculty and staff embraced the work of safeguarding our community while ensuring that our learning and research mission remains strong.

COVID-19 poses an unprecedented threat to public health; so too this pandemic threatens the financial health of millions of households and institutions around the globe. As this world faces our greatest shared challenge in living memory, it’s humbling that so many of you are asking how to help William & Mary. Your support for our students, faculty and staff is more important now than ever, as we navigate uncharted territory.

This centuries-old institution is discovering again what it means to be resilient as a university and to cultivate resilience in those who come here. So I hope you will consider renewing your annual support for the areas of the university where you traditionally give. Even if you are unable to give in the same way as before, every gift, no matter the size, helps.

If you would like to help with immediate needs, please consider a gift to the Fund for William & Mary or one of our emergency funds. I am so grateful for our community’s outpouring of support, yet many students continue to have an urgent need for longer-term housing and food.

Wherever you decide to give, your contribution, especially right now, will make a tremendous difference.

Thank you for standing with William & Mary.

Stay well,

Katherine A. Rowe
President

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Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act

April 4, 2020

Good afternoon. The new Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) went into effect this week. The law provides employees with Paid Emergency Sick Leave (PESL) for several reasons related to COVID-19 and/or Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFML) for parents whose children’s school or day care provider is closed due to COVID-19. Details about the law are on this poster. Here is a document with the guidelines for the law’s implementation at William & Mary. The guidelines are based on guidance received from state officials and may be updated as additional guidance is provided. This is a complex law that can be confusing. To assist employees with understanding it and also how it intersects with the Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL), we have developed this flow chart. It outlines which type of leave is available for different situations.

The form to request EFML is available online at https://wmdocusign.wm.edu/url/go/ffcrafml. We are developing a form to request PESL and will notify employees when it is ready. In the meantime, we have set-up an interim request process, and it is outlined in the guidelines.

Once you have had a chance to review the materials, we are here to assist you and answer questions about your individual circumstances. Please send your questions to AskHR@wm.edu. We know this is a difficult time for many people and there are many challenges with juggling work while taking care of children. We hope the provisions of the new law provide some needed assistance.

Human Resources

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Supervisors Telework and Workplace Matters Forum #2

April 3, 2020

Supervisors:

We will host our second Supervisors Forum on Tuesday, April 7th at 1:00 p.m. to discuss an emerging list of pressing topics.  This afternoon, HR will publish guidance on the new Federal 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act and its family leave provision.  The session on Tuesday will allow us to offer richer guidance on this topic for supervisors.  Here are some of the topics that will be covered at that time:

  1. Families First Coronavirus Response Act
  2. Hiring Freeze and Budgets
  3. Out of Office Messages
  4. Telework Lessons Learned, so far
  5. Follow-up topics from Town Hall Meeting
  6. Other

If you have topics that you would like covered, please send them to hrguy@wm.edu.  We look forward to speaking with you on Tuesday.

cdl

Christopher D. Lee, Ph.D., SPHR
Chief Human Resources Officer
William & Mary

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An update on Commencement 2020

April 2, 2020

Dear William & Mary Community,

As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, Commencement 2020 has been front-of-mind for our graduating students and their families. For a close-knit community that treasures our ceremonies, Commencement stands out as among our most cherished. Alumni talk about ringing the Wren bell, saying goodbye to beloved places on campus, and walking together with classmates out through the door they entered when they first arrived at William & Mary. 

Celebrating together, in person, continues to be our goal. Doing so matters greatly to our graduate students, undergraduates, parents, faculty, and staff – and to me. And it matters to our surrounding community, as a time when many Williamsburg neighbors celebrate living in a university town.

This week, Governor Northam issued a “stay-at-home” order, running through June 10, 2020. That order responds to national public health projections that COVID-19 cases in VA may peak in late May. It is clear that we must defer the planned ceremony on May 16. 

With a better understanding of the virus’s progress nationally, we will identify a time when we can convene such a sizable group without great risk to health. We will continue to assess possible timelines in consultation with local public health officials, closely tracking the Commonwealth’s and our nation’s response. As we gain clarity, we will keep our community informed on our Commencement website

I am sorry to be sharing news that I know saddens us all. W&M’s leadership will bring our best thinking to when and how we can come together in this important ceremony of passage – perhaps in summer, or fall. For now, we can share these details:

  • Commencement will include as many of our cherished traditions as possible, including ringing the Wren bell, Candlelight, departmental and affinity group ceremonies, and the walk across campus. 
  • We will do everything within our means to make sure all who want to attend this ceremony in person are able to. Even as we plan a new date, we know that it will not be the weekend we had planned. For some, there will be barriers – financial and scheduling – to return. We are working with student leaders to plan accordingly.
  • We will confer degrees virtually on May 16 and mail diplomas to each graduate. All students who have completed their graduation requirements will receive their degrees as scheduled, so you can pursue future opportunities with your degree in hand. More details to come.

Already, our graduating students are experiencing a deep sense of loss, as a spring semester they joyfully anticipated has changed in profound ways outside of our control. Each loss, shared and personal, compounds anxiety and hardship. Please reach out to the graduating students around you and support them.

Last Friday, a William & Mary faculty member shared her experience of being in the final year of her Ph.D. program in New Orleans in 2005, during Hurricane Katrina. She said, “What I know is: a resiliency develops from this. And I see this same resilience in my students this week.”

You are navigating this challenging spring with grace and compassion. William & Mary is proud of you, and we look forward to coming together to celebrate you. Until then, may this community and those we love be healthy and safe.

Stay well,

Katherine A. Rowe
President

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Resilience and kindness amid crisis

March 31, 2020

Dear William & Mary Community,

At our first weekly Community Conversation, I invited our far-flung William & Mary family to learn how the Alma Mater of the Nation is responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Many have written to me with reminders that William & Mary has weathered extraordinary challenges in the past, with resilience. That said, in barely three weeks, our world has shifted and our lives changed. As we work through immediate-term solutions in crisis mode, we will begin to shift to living, teaching and learning during a pandemic. As we continue to chart a path forward together, I feel honored to be part of this community.

I take heart in the transformations we have accomplished in such a short amount of time. We all know that higher education prides itself in measured response and reflection. William & Mary has held onto our pride in those qualities even as we have moved expeditiously to advance the three-part mission we cherish: teaching, learning and research.

Here are just a few examples:

  • Our students and faculty have taken their pursuit of learning and scholarship online: 2,000-plus courses in two weeks. Research advances, music performances continue and students and teachers are coming together to explore the affordances of distance education, aided by our Studio for Teaching and Learning Innovation. 
  • Our staff has kept the university running apace, rapidly adapting to new technologies and workflows and providing round-the-clock care to support our students’ health and wellbeing.
  • Our researchers have pooled their PPEs and shared them with local hospitals – resources we hope will extend the safety of our courageous local healthcare providers on the front line.
  • Our alumni are connecting with each other and alma mater via virtual networking, professional and intellectual programming, webinars and volunteer opportunities. 
  • Our neighbors, parents and friends have pulled together to support this community – through words of encouragement, guidance and continued investment. 
  • Our community has generously given to the university through our For the Bold campaign so that students facing emergencies can access needed funding. So far, we have provided 118 students with emergency financial support. It says so much about who our students are that they have asked only for what they need – knowing others will be in need too.

In this historic moment, each of us has an extraordinary opportunity to reimagine our purpose, pursue new passions and explore new modes for creating community. Thank you for your resilience and kindness and for being a constant in a time of rapid change.

Best regards,

Katherine A. Rowe
President

P.S. We will continue to gather for virtual Community Conversations on a weekly basis. Please join us tomorrow, Wednesday, April 1, at 12 p.m. ET, for a conversation on health and wellness. See www.wm.edu/conversation for more details and upcoming dates.

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Staff Town Hall -- April 2nd at 2:00 p.m.

March 30, 2020
Employees should see the email for a link to the forum. - Ed.

Colleagues:

Join us on Thursday, April 2, 2020 for a virtual town hall for all operational, classified and professional staff regarding the university’s response to COVID-19.

Moderated by Arielle Newby, president of Staff Assembly, and Joe Wheeless, president of Professionals & Professional Faculty Assembly, the Town Hall will feature Chris Lee, chief human resources officer, and Sam Jones, senior vice president for finance and administration.

President Katherine A. Rowe will open the session with a brief introduction, followed by a question and answer session with Chris and Sam. We invite all staff to submit questions ahead of time through this online form. Please review the Employee FAQs on the university’s COVID-19 resource website for more information specifically for staff. Anyone needing assistive technologies due to a disability should reach out to askhr@wm.edu.

We’re looking forward to bringing all of our staff together into one virtual space in order to reflect on the challenges of the past few weeks and answer your questions.

We hope to see you there.

Best,

Arielle Newby
President, Staff Assembly

Joe Wheeless
President, Professionals & Professional Faculty Assembly

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Telework Forum for Parents & PHEL Increase

March 27, 2020

Supervisors:

With schools and daycare centers closed, many William & Mary employees are juggling working from home with managing their children's education and care. Human Resources is hosting a Telework Forum for Parents on Tuesday, March 31, at 2 p.m. It will provide ideas, tips, and resources to help parents effectively juggle work and family during these difficult times. Please let your staff know about the forum and have them mark their calendars. An invitation is also being sent out via the Digest. A link to the program will be published on Monday.

Public Health Emergency Leave Doubled & Childcare Provision
Human Resources has some good news to share. The state has doubled the amount of Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) available for use. This means employees are eligible to receive up to 160 hours of PHEL. This amount is pro-rated for employees working less than 40 hours per week. The new leave balances are being added to Banner. Also, employees are now able to use 24 hours of PHEL to cover time needed to make child and/or elder care arrangements. Please refer to the PHEL guidelines located at https://www.wm.edu/offices/hr/policies/public-health-emergency-leave/index.php for more information.

Regards,

cdl

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An invitation to a virtual Community Conversation and reflections from the past week

March 25, 2020

Dear W&M Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Many of you are back in the classroom, as Arts & Sciences, Education, and VIMS started classes this week. The schools of Law and Business made the transition to remote teaching last week, so teachers and students in those classes are in your second week. We welcome the insights that early start may yield for the rest of us.

It has been moving, and heartening, to listen as this unprecedented shift has taken place. In barely more than a week, William & Mary faculty and staff in every school reinvented their spring semesters, adapting long-standing habits and materials into new platforms. Despite the intense worry and uncertainty that all of us are feeling, the sense of shared purpose at William & Mary is strong.

This note has only one piece of business, an invitation, and then reflections on insights that have been shared with me this week from many different sources.

The invitation: in order to create some space to reflect together, I will be hosting a virtual Community Conversation (www.wm.edu/conversation) from the President’s House this Friday at 2 p.m. ET. We will hear from faculty and undergraduates who will join me (virtually) to share their reflections on this week’s transition to distance learning. We will also use this as an opportunity to weave into the conversations many of the questions we have been hearing.

Please join us on Friday to hear more about how this week unfolded, from teachers’ and students’ perspectives. If this kind of virtual conversation proves welcome, we’ll continue it in the coming weeks. More details to come.

I write also to acknowledge the incredible difficulty of what we are undertaking. Classes are back in session because of great effort by many. More will be needed in the weeks ahead. We must pace ourselves, give each other grace when our efforts fall short of our hopes, and take care of each other.

The emotions many of us feel this week have been intensely mixed, with good reason. I’ve heard many expressions of pride, determination, solace in collaborative work, joy in creativity under pressure. So much gratitude is flowing. I am especially grateful to Williamsburg’s Mayor and City Council in joining me to affirm how deeply we value our international graduate students, undergraduates, professional students, visiting faculty and staff – honored members of our community whose presence strengthens William & Mary in every way.

It is important to honor the painful feelings as well: care for the health of loved ones and one's own health; frustration when William & Mary misses a step in communication; feelings of being unsettled and out of place; worry about finances. Sadness comes with every cancellation that passes on the calendar of self-quarantine. With our determination and steadfast efforts, we are also mourning: a lecture, a birthday, the long-awaited symposium, a team road trip, and so much more. Not having been able to say goodbye weighs on many. As does the fear of worse losses, impending.

One common theme of emails to me this week: there is overwhelming support for postponing decisions on Commencement 2020. William & Mary is of one mind on this: we want to be together. So we will wait until April for better clarity on how that may be achieved.

The clear throughline in everything that has been shared with me over the past week is care for others. That speaks volumes about who we are as a community. Just more than a week ago, I wrote to you with the difficult news that William & Mary would need to finish the semester remotely. As COVID-19 cases rose sharply in Williamsburg this week, I shared the wrenching news that we would need to close dorms – and find the students still on campus places to stay where they can more safely self-quarantine. We are doing so, thanks to the assistance that Student Affairs and the Reves Center are providing, and the hospitality of many campus neighbors.

Even in distress, so many of you have taken the time to send a kind note to a faculty member, staff member, student leader, or administrator. Please know how much each of these gestures lifts our spirits.

Sincerely,

Katherine A. Rowe
President

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Recruitment-Hiring Deferral Information for Supervisors/Managers

March 20, 2020

Supervisors/Managers:

On Tuesday, March 17th, Amy Sebring sent an e-mail to supervisors informing them that we are deferring hires for non-mission-critical positions until May 15th. We are receiving questions about how this affects positions currently in the midst of the hiring process or submitted for posting.

One of the biggest questions is "Which positions are considered mission-critical?" This is determined by each cabinet member. Hiring managers should contact their cabinet member to discuss positions currently in the hiring process.

We are not planning to retract any employment offers; however, start dates may need to be delayed if possible, and appropriate. If you have a start date set for a new employee, you should consider whether you have work for the person to perform and if you are able to orient the employee to your department at this time. A member of the HR Department’s employment team will call each hiring manager who has a start date for a new employee to discuss whether the start date will remain the same or be delayed. Human Resources will provide guidance and input; however, the decision on whether to move forward as previous planned will be made by the hiring manager in conjunction with the cabinet member in his/her chain-of-command.

For positions currently in the approval or hiring process, Human Resources is asking managers to speak with his/her cabinet member to determine if the cabinet member approves moving forward with the action at this time. This includes recruitment waivers and classification and compensation reviews. Human Resources is happy to continue conducting classification and compensation reviews; assisting with position postings; approving recruitment waivers; etc. with the support and consent of the respective cabinet member.

For positions currently in the hiring process and the cabinet member does not approve filling the position at this time, hiring managers have some options. The hiring manager may move forward with conducting interviews via Zoom, over the phone, or using other similar technologies. If the decision is made to do this, applicants should be told that hiring decisions will be delayed until May. Hiring managers could also decide to pause and resume the selection process at a later date. In those cases, Human Resources is happy to assist with notifying applicants.

We are in unprecedented times, therefore it is prudent that we revisit and reaffirm the decisions we are making in light of the evolving landscape.

Through May, supervisors/managers should speak with their cabinet member when seeking to fill positions or requesting a classification and/or compensation review. This includes temporary and grant-funded positions. With the cabinet member’s approval, Human Resources will proceed as usual with requests.

If you have any additional questions, you may send them to [[HRGuy]] or call a member of our employment team.

cdl

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Use of Public Health Emergency Leave

March 19, 2020

Supervisors:

The Commonwealth enables William & Mary to provide up to 80 hours of Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL), which can be used by employees in specific public health-related situations. This leave may be used in one of the following four circumstances.

  • An employee has been exposed to COVID-19 and is required to self-quarantine. (e. g. This could be after an employee returns from traveling internationally, is informed by the health department he/she was in proximity to someone with a COVID-19 diagnose, etc.)
  • An employee’s office is closed and there is no appropriate training, or work for the employee to perform remotely or through other alternative means.
  • An employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • An employee has an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Supervisors should notify their respective manager or cabinet member when an employee becomes eligible to use PHEL.

For employees who record leave on timesheets, PHEL is now available as an option. The amount of leave that is available to an employee depends on how many hours the employee normally works:

Full-time employees will have 80 hours available (the equivalent of two weeks of work).
Those who work reduced hours (e.g., 30 hours per week) will have a pro-rated amount available.
Hourly employees will have available the average number of hours they worked per pay period during the period between January 16 and February 15, up to the maximum allowed--the equivalent of two weeks of work.

PHEL balances will be loaded the morning of March 20. Once loaded, supervisors can see the leave balances of their direct reports through the Banner Self-Service Employee tab. The Public Health Emergency Leave code is PHLV.

If you have any questions not addressed by information already published, please respond to [[hrguy]].

Regards,

cdl

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W&M's COVID-19 Response: Important Updates for the Remainder of the Semester

March 19, 2020

Dear William & Mary Community,

Like many of you, we continue to follow closely the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19. First and foremost, our thoughts and care are for those whose wellbeing has been and will be impacted, in our surrounding region and around the world. This is an incredibly challenging time. We know we can help by providing as much clarity as we can, as soon as we have it. 

As we move forward, the goals we shared last week remain our north star: 1) to safeguard the health of students, faculty and staff; 2) to ensure students complete their classes; 3) to maintain the university’s research and other operations; 4) to do everything within our power to support national and global efforts to slow the spread of the disease.

We are seeing significant impacts across our far-flung communities and close to home, here in Williamsburg. Thus, I write to share decisions regarding the university’s operations for the remainder of the semester. In acting now, we hope to allow you as much time as possible to prepare and respond.

We make these decisions in conjunction with the advice of local health authorities, recognizing that the Peninsula Health District, in which our main campus resides, has a dense concentration of positive COVID-19 test results – now including individuals on our campus. Nothing is more important than the health and wellness of our community.

  • All in-person classes will resume remotely on Monday, March 23, and continue in this format through the end of the semester. Courses that are already online are continuing this week as previously scheduled. Over the past week the provost’s office and deans’ offices have begun coordinating the transition to online course delivery. Faculty, students and staff should access W&M's Instructional Resilience site for assistance with this effort.
  • All residence halls will close for the remainder of the semester. We ask the few students remaining on campus to activate their personal evacuation plans and leave their residence halls no later than March 25. Details from Residence Life regarding next steps and support services for students may be found below. We ask that other students remain away from campus and await further information before returning to collect their belongings.
  • Our Student Affairs staff are committed to working with individual students who are unable to implement their personal evacuation plans, to find a solution. Please click here to consult with them.
  • W&M will provide students partial refunds for room and board. We are still working to understand the economic impact of the epidemic – intensely aware of the financial vulnerability of so many families and employees. The Office of Finance and Administration will share details and specific amounts in the coming days. 
  • For many of us, the ceremony of Commencement matters profoundly. This is, of course, especially true for seniors and their families. So we are deferring a decision on how or when to have Commencement. By April, we hope that the timeline of this unfolding epidemic may be clearer and that our ability to plan will be as well. We promise to bring our best thinking to this question so that we can honor and uphold William & Mary’s tradition of belonging. 
  • University travel and events restrictions will continue through at least May 1, 2020. The university’s interim travel policy provides guidance to all.
  • All employees who can work remotely are expected to do so during this period. For the small number who must be on campus: your supervisors will continue to advise on appropriate ways to safeguard your and our community’s health using social distancing and appropriate hygiene protocols.

I want to acknowledge how much we are asking of all employees, whatever your roles. All of our lives have been upended by COVID-19 and we will all be balancing competing demands for some time to come. We will be learning how to work or teach remotely, fulfilling university responsibilities through new modes, while attending to the care and education of others – our children, parents, neighbors and friends. We have an obligation to one another to extend flexibility and understanding everywhere possible.

We recognize that these decisions have weighty consequences — personal, financial and more. They require dedication and sacrifice from our students, faculty and staff. And we know that each decision we make generates new questions. So we will continue to share more details as they become available. 

Please keep sending your questions our way, since they give us a better understanding of how to support you to the best of our collective ability. Please continue to consult our website and FAQs daily, where we compile the most up-to-date information.

William & Mary has faced profound adversities before and flourished. Since our founding in 1693, our history has been one of creativity and resilience in the face of daunting challenges. Over the past week, we have been heartened by so many stories of students, faculty, staff, neighbors and alumni reaching out to support each other. 

Your goodwill, care and spirit of partnership are this university’s strength. Thank you.

Katherine A. Rowe
President

GUIDANCE FROM STUDENT AFFAIRS

The university has made the difficult decision to close all W&M residence halls (including apartments and the Graduate Complex) effective March 25 at 5:00 p.m. Any residential students still on campus will need to execute their personal emergency evacuation plan and move out of their residence hall by that time. Please consult the following procedures.

For students living in off-campus housing: given the lack of services on campus and out of an abundance of caution, we ask that you return to your family residence.

Students currently on campus and in residence need to move out by Wednesday, March 25, 2020.

  • Residence halls will not reopen this semester.
  • If possible remove all of your belongings at this time and complete the online check out process.
  • If you are unable to move out completely now, we will offer another window in May to come back and collect your belongings.

If you are away from campus and have belongings in your room for which you have a critical need (medications, laptops) you must make plans to collect them by Wednesday, March 25, 5:00 p.m., as follows:

  • Email [[living]] with your request.
  • It is critical that you bring your room key and ID card to access your residence hall.
  • If you don’t have your key, email [[living]] for assistance.
  • You will have a limited amount of time to collect your belongings and leave campus.
  • Social distancing protocols will be in place and we will require compliance with these actions.
  • No one may accompany you into the building. Only residents will be permitted entry to residence halls. If you bring guests with you, they must remain in your vehicle.
  • Do not come to campus if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or have been asked by state or local health officials to self-quarantine. Under those circumstances, you may designate someone else to return for your critically-needed belongings by emailing [[living]].

If you need for someone else to retrieve your critical items for you:
Email [[living]] from your official W&M email account and provide the following information:

  • Your name, hall and room number
  • Name of person coming to gather items
  • Only one person may enter the residence hall
  • They will be escorted at a distance of 6-8 feet by a staff member

Final Move Out Procedures:

We will plan a full move out period from April 18-May 18, 2020. More information about access and hours during that window will be shared at a later date. Please note that future health conditions in our region may require adjustments to these proposed dates.

Concerns:

Again, for those students who are unable to implement their personal evacuation plans – know that we are committed to working with you to find a solution. Please click here to consult with us.

Telework & Supervisory Information Update

March 18, 2020

Supervisors:

We will not be hosting an additional telework training tomorrow afternoon as originally scheduled. However, the information recorded at Monday's session is still applicable (supervisors should see the email sent to them for a link to the forum - Ed.).

Next, here are some additional tidbits that are worthy of note:

Our current guidance for supervisors is to keep employees engaged in the ongoing work of the university. The relative priority of effort is as follows:

  • Regular work assignments
    • Remote work
    • Work as needed on campus with appropriate social distancing and hygiene protocols in place, and with supervisory pre-approval
  • Alternative work assignments within one’s department
    • Assignments approved by one’s department head or Cabinet Member
  • Learning activities related to one’s work (in Cornerstone)
    • How to work remotely learning modules
    • General work-place skills (e.g. use of technology, project management, soft skills, etc.)
    • Certificates and Certifications for one’s profession
  • Public Health Emergency Leave
    • For use after above options are exhausted and they meet one of the following requirements
      • The employee has been exposed to COVID-19 and is required to self-quarantine.
      • The employee’s office is closed and there is not appropriate work for the employee to perform, remotely or in the office.
      • The employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
      • The employee’s immediate family member has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
    • The Human Resources Department will be sending instructions on accounting for this special leave category by Friday of this week.
  • Regular Leaves (based upon eligibility)
    • Annual, Family-Personal, etc. 

As normal, time-sheets must be submitted and certified each pay period for non-exempt employees. Supervisors are required to ensure that non-exempt employees do not work over 40 hours in any given week when working remotely. Any hours actually worked over 40 triggers overtime pay/leave as required by law.

We have received many questions regarding hiring. Continuing to review applicants or conduct remote interviews is prudent at this time. However, making employment officers or starting new employees in the coming weeks requires extra scrutiny. Questions related to the 60-day delay in hiring should be funneled through one's Cabinet Member.

More to come.

Regards,

cdl

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Learning is Working - Training Courses Available

March 18, 2020

Supervisors:

Last fall HR surveyed the President's Cabinet and asked this question, "Would you support a requirement that all job descriptions state that "5% of the job is learning new skills" (this implies that you would support their growth)?" The response was affirming. Over 95% of our leaders supported this idea. We had planned to roll-out a deliberate learning initiative in support of our strategic plan when the plan was finalized. The current situation provides an opportunity to model this learning behavior in advance.

First, there are training materials for managers and employees about how to telework, work remotely, and related matters in Cornerstone; see the information in the graphic below. Second, there are thousands of learning materials available for a large variety of professions. Review instructions for accessing LinkedIn Learning Courses and The Long-Distance Leader in Cornerstone..You can also assign courses of study to your team members. Third, it would be prudent to identify learning expectations for all staff in advance so that employees are not idle as the work ebbs and flows over the coming weeks. Last, see the attached book summary of an excellent, new resource on remote management (we are stretching the limits of fair use copyright here due to our urgent circumstances).

If you have any questions about learning modules or technologies, send questions to both Babs Bengtson and Mane Pada at [[blbengtson]] and [[mepada]]. Keep learning, keep working!

Regards,

cdl

Christopher D. Lee, Ph.D., SPHR
Chief Human Resources Officer
William & Mary

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Letter of Thanks to All Who Support W&M's Educational Mission

March 16, 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

I am on campus today and going forward. Bruce Jacobson and I will continue to live and work here with those who offer mission-critical support to our students. Both of us look forward to seeing some of you in the coming days, virtually or in person. For those who must be on campus, we want to offer our profound thanks to you in person – even as we model the behavior of safe social distancing. 

All around us, on campus and beyond, dedicated staff and administrators are working to sustain W&M’s educational mission under very difficult circumstances. So Sam Jones and I write as president and senior vice president — and as your colleagues — to share our heartfelt thanks. All of us find ourselves in new territory as we navigate the challenges and uncertainty brought on by COVID-19. All of us must make decisions in real-time and adjust often, as new information arrives hourly. 

We feel pride and great trust in you. We deeply appreciate the determination and patience you have shown already, and we count on it. We are confident in our ability to solve the new problems we face together. We welcome your thoughtful questions and feedback, directly and via managers. Please keep that coming so that we can continue to benefit from your best thinking.

Circumstances will continue to change rapidly. As they do, we will hold the four goals we shared last week at front of mind:

  1. Safeguard the health of students, faculty and staff;
  2. Ensure students complete their classes;
  3. Maintain the university’s research and other operations;
  4. Support the national effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, to protect our communities, from Williamsburg to DC and beyond. 

Although the university is now closed to the public and shifting to alternate and telecommuting arrangements wherever possible, mission-critical work continues. We know many of you have questions; please look first to our FAQ.

We share below a mini-summary, because as much transparency as possible helps us all to stay focused on what matters.

Where we are as of March 16

  • We have asked students who can do so to return home. The campus is closed to the general public, effective noon today, for one week through March 22, in accordance with the Governor’s directive to close executive-branch and state facility offices in the Peninsula Health District. 
  • We asked all employees who could do so to begin teleworking. Roughly 500 students remain on campus, and the employees who support them are using shifts and other recommended strategies to safeguard their health.
  • As we anticipated, we now have confirmed cases in Williamsburg, including a W&M staff member. We expect that number to grow. We know your thoughts, like ours, are consumed by care for those who are and will be affected by this pandemic. 
  • Many of us will need to add caretaking of others to our workload in the coming weeks. Please talk with your supervisors explicitly about this. They will communicate the needs of the office and help balance workloads in a team. Everyone will need to be flexible as much as we can.
  • In each school or unit, designated administrators and staff are leading the school’s response and building resources to support everyone engaged in instruction to make the conversion to distance teaching. Classes start a week from today.
  • The Emergency Management Team (EMT) meets daily. Sam Jones, the chair of EMT, will continue to communicate with you frequently as conditions change. All communications are archived on our COVID-19 website and we ask that you consult that daily as well.
  • Please also read our FAQs daily. They are continually updated and will help you identify what “closed to the public” or other future status updates mean specifically, for you. This information will not and cannot be fully comprehensive. We urge all staff to exercise your good judgment and err on the side of caution.

We are confident that these urgent actions will help protect the members of our community, as well as those we care for beyond William & Mary. We are grateful to all with whom we consulted to make these decisions swiftly – so we could give everyone as much time as possible to prepare. 

Sustaining our mission

  • We have students on campus who are unable to go home, teachers preparing for online delivery of courses, staff working to complete admission decisions for applicants and many other activities that continue for now. These are critical to W&M’s educational mission.
  • The parameters under which we are operating remain fluid. We will continue to rely on the discretion and judgment of supervisors to determine the right way to proceed with meeting the needs of our community. And we will continue to update our guidance and direction based on the latest information we have.

It is a privilege to serve William & Mary and the public good with you. We will emerge from this as an even stronger institution and community.

With gratitude and great respect,

Katherine Rowe, President
Sam Jones, Senior Vice President for Finance & Administration

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Telework and Alternate Work Arrangements Principles and Policies

March 13, 2020

Supervisors:

We are holding training sessions on telework principles and policies, and alternate work schedules on Monday and Thursday next week. During these sessions we are covering essential information about how to manage employees and their work when there are disruptions to the normal routine. Please join one of the sessions either in person in the Commonwealth Auditorium, or remotely through the links provided (supervisors should see the email sent to them for links to the forums - Ed.).

Monday, March 16, 2020, at 10:00 a.m.
Thursday, March 19th, at 2:00 p.m.

Over the coming weeks the university will continue normal administrative operations, albeit with some adjustments. These adjustments--in relative order of priority--include: a) practicing social distancing in work spaces, b) using flexible scheduling of staff, c) developing creative solutions, and d) utilizing telework when appropriate. The training sessions will provide supervisors with information and tools to help them manage during these uncertain and changing times.

The agenda will include the following:

Employee Support, Concerns, and Morale
Alternate Work Arrangements and Flexible Schedules
W&M Telework Policy
Telework Principles
Telework Approvals Protocol for the COVID-19 Period
IT Support and Tools (remoteit.wm.edu)
HR Support and Information
Public Health Leave
Student and Hourly Employees
Other TBD
Q&A

We look forward to sharing information with you next week.

For supervisors only: For supervisors who have urgent questions on matters related to telework and alternate work arrangements, please e-mail hrguy@wm.edu. Supervisors should review the official information and FAQs on our designated website before calling or sending an e-mail. As we get individual questions that have policy implications, we are posting the answers in the FAQ section on the website. Utilizing the official information source allows us to be more responsive. Similarly, employees should also be directed to the University's COVID-19 website for information: https://www.wm.edu/about/administration/emergency/current_issues/coronavirus/.

Thank you in advance for your steadfast attention to this important matter. We look forward to collaborating with you to ensure that W&M operations continue in the most effective manner possible in the weeks to come.

Regards,

cdl

Christopher D. Lee, Ph.D, SPHR
Chief Human Resources Officer
William & Mary

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W&M's COVID-19 Response: Interim Changes to Instruction, Events & Travel

March 11, 2020

Dear William & Mary Community,

Since January of this year, W&M has been monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and actively responding, in close consultation with public health experts, the VA Department of Health and our peers.

We are guided by four key goals: safeguarding the health of students, faculty and staff; ensuring students complete their classes; maintaining the university’s research and other operations; and joining in the national effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, to protect our communities, from Williamsburg to DC and beyond. As we gather new information, we will continue to use these goals to guide our best judgment. I ask each of you to do so as well.

With students due to return from spring break and reports of presumptive cases in our region, we are taking further steps to ensure we meet these goals. The university will remain open with modified academic operations:

  • Starting tomorrow, March 12, through April 3, we will implement interim policies for events and travel. Over the next week we will move to online and remote modes of instruction.

All in-person classes are suspended. Classes will resume online starting Monday, March 23. Courses that are already online will continue as scheduled.

  • Students are strongly encouraged to return home or stay home. For those for whom this is not a realistic option, you are welcome on campus as detailed below.
  • University travel and events are suspended, as detailed below.
  • Employees are expected to continue working during this period, observing proper health protocols and with modifications as needed and approved by supervisors.
  • We will continue to meet daily to evaluate the circumstances and decide no later than April 1 whether to continue these changes further.

These decisions will have consequences for each of us professionally and personally. Changing near-term plans and longstanding habits requires time, effort and patience. We are in wholly new territory and will learn as we go, together. For many of us as individuals, there will be disappointments and frustrations. For some, there may be real sacrifices, unexpected challenges or burdens that are hard to see. So I ask that you hold close our core values of belonging and respect.

As we move forward, we are committed to ensuring the standards of excellence that distinguish a William & Mary education. So many offices and individuals on campus have been working incredibly hard behind the scenes over the past weeks. They stand ready to support students, faculty and staff in this transition. I am deeply grateful to them for their tireless and resourceful partnership.

By Friday, we will provide additional guidance on planning underway to support students, families, staff and faculty. We ask that everyone continue to refer to https://www.wm.edu/coronavirus for the most up-to-date information on anything related to W&M’s institutional response.

William & Mary is a resilient community. I have seen this firsthand, particularly in recent weeks. We take care of each other. I am confident that will be the case in the coming days and weeks. Thanks to each of you for your creativity, understanding and commitment to this shared effort.

Best regards,

Katherine A. Rowe
President

 

The university remains open with modified academic operations. Further details may be found below.

Effective March 12, we will implement the following interim policies for modes of instruction, events and travel. These policies will be effective through at least April 3. We will decide by April 1 whether to extend them further. Employees are expected to continue working during this period, observing proper health protocols and with modifications as needed and approved by supervisors.

Our understanding of this pandemic is rapidly evolving. We recognize the stress this uncertainty places on students, families, faculty, staff and the communities we belong to. By taking further preventative steps, we maximize time for measured transitions and reduce the risk of future disruptions to our teaching, learning and research mission. For students, staff and faculty who are traveling – and for their families – taking prudent action now increases their ability to plan. Finally, W&M has a responsibility to contribute to local, state, federal and global public health efforts. 

Instruction is moving to remote and online platforms. 

In-person classes are suspended for this coming week to allow faculty and staff to modify delivery of their curriculum. Classes will resume via online and distance platforms on Monday, March 23. Online instruction will continue uninterrupted.

The provost and deans’ offices will coordinate this transition for all academic programs. The university is providing support for the online instructional, remote learning and technology needs of faculty, students and staff.

Students are strongly encouraged to return home or stay home. 

We ask students not to return to campus during this period. On-campus services (residence halls, dining, etc.) will be limited for those with compelling reasons to be present, such as international students. The Office of Student Affairs is overseeing student support during this transition.

University travel is suspended. 

All university-sponsored travel – domestic and international – is suspended regardless of fund source. We strongly discourage all personal travel, domestic or international, and may require employees who do travel to self-quarantine upon return. A university-wide policy on travel reimbursements is posted online.

We remind the community of CDC guidelines and recommendations, which include a self-quarantine of 14 days after travel abroad in specific regions.

University events are suspended. 

All events and gatherings in university facilities as well as university-sponsored events on and off campus are suspended through at least April 3. This includes events sponsored by any recognized student organization and other affiliated groups. Whenever possible, we will seek opportunities to enable some events through virtual means and platforms.

Division I Athletics will operate within the policies of its governing bodies, the CAA and NCAA, and be subject to university health protocols.

Events beyond April 3 may be addressed now out of an abundance of caution so there is ample time to prepare alternative plans. This is particularly important for large groups and for events involving the most at-risk populations. Event sponsors should explore solutions that include canceling, rescheduling or moving to alternative platforms.

All great ideas are welcome as we work together to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and mitigate disruption. Many on campus are already exploring ways to use telecommuting, virtual meetings and buddy systems. Please share your suggestions via our question box.

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