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COVID-19 Messages to Students (2020)

An archive of messages sent to William & Mary students about the university's plans and policies responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Note that phased planning has updated some messages since their original issuance. - Ed.

Spring COVID-19 Prevention Measures

December 17, 2020

Dear W&M Community,

As many of you know, Sam Jones retired at the beginning of December after an exemplary career at William & Mary, capped by his able leadership of the COVID-19 Response Team. I am honored to succeed Sam in that role while also chairing W&M’s Public Health Advisory Team and serving as the university’s chief operating officer. In that capacity, I write with an update on the spring semester. Many of W&M’s protocols in the spring will mirror what proved successful in the fall, though W&M continues to refine processes and evaluate response to the ever-changing public health landscape.

Pre-Arrival Quarantine and Testing

For Employees: 

  • As in the fall semester, students, faculty and staff who work closely with others will need to self-quarantine for eight days before returning to in-person activities on campus.
  • In addition, employees who work in positions identified by Human Resources as being in high-contact roles in which they may not be able to use mitigation strategies – such as masks, physical barriers and social distancing at all times – may be tested for COVID-19 before students return to campus.

For Students:

  • As with the fall semester, students are expected to quarantine eight days prior to returning to campus to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • All students living in campus housing, who plan to attend in-person instruction or use university facilities, will be required to have a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus. Students within a 30-mile radius of campus will also need to test negative.
  • W&M will provide each student a free COVID-19 saliva test, mailed in advance of returning. The COVID-19 testing group will soon begin contacting students by email to coordinate test registration and shipments, based on students’ anticipated arrival dates.
  • The self-collected saliva test is administered through Clinical Reference Laboratory as part of the network of labs that includes VCU Health, our health care partner.
  • These are the tests required for move-in and in-person instruction; W&M does not plan to accept outside test results due to the variability and efficacy of COVID-19 tests nationally and difficulties in streamlining testing results and reporting requirements from multiple sources.
  • Students will not be permitted to be on campus until their negative test results have been received and verified.
  • You will be notified by the William & Mary testing program when it is time to confirm the shipping address where you’d like to receive your test kit. Tests will be sent based on your anticipated return date, according to a predetermined schedule arranged with W&M’s health care partners. Completing the address confirmation and questionnaire is necessary, but your test may not ship immediately. Please note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requires COVID-19 laboratories to provide certain medical information on individuals taking tests. Neither Kallaco nor William & Mary access or retain this data.
  • International students will be notified by email about specific testing requirements.
  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the 90 days prior to your return, please fill out the form at ReportCOVID to alert the university.
Vaccine Information and Public Health 
  • As COVID-19 vaccine testing and deployment accelerates, the Virginia Department of Health is developing a protocol to administer inoculation across the Commonwealth. Currently, the state is prioritizing health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities for the first doses of the vaccine allocated to Virginia. William & Mary will continue to track the state’s plans regarding vaccinations and higher education.
  • On Thursday, Dec. 10, Gov. Ralph Northam announced enhanced COVID-19 precautions through the end of January, which we are evaluating. They seem to affect W&M little in the immediate term, as we are between semesters, avoiding gatherings and largely working remotely.
  • William & Mary’s Public Health Advisory Team and the COVID-19 Response Team continue to closely follow local, regional, state and national developments during the pandemic. These trends, along with additional data and considerations, will inform William & Mary’s spring operations.

As William & Mary finalizes plans for the spring, I will be in touch with additional updates and details. I wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

Amy Sebring

COVID-19 Response Director

W&M Chief Operating Officer

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End of semester gratitude

November 24, 2020

Dear William & Mary Community,

As the semester winds down, I write to share my gratitude for your steadfast and creative efforts over the past nine months of pandemic. In March, we set out goals that were simple to describe yet incredibly difficult to achieve in such an uncertain and constantly changing environment. Our goals have been, and continue to be: to safeguard this community’s health and wellbeing, to the best of our ability – so that students can continue to learn and live together and faculty and staff can continue in the work they are passionate about.

In our spring and summer planning, we outlined the most difficult curricular path – in-person, hybrid, and remote learning – so that our graduate students and undergraduates might choose the living and learning options that best suited their needs. This fall, faculty and staff adapted to telework, new research requirements, blended learning, and a transformed campus environment; more than 500 staff and administrators took on entirely new jobs, working flat out to create a robust testing, quarantine & isolation, and case management program, mentoring for students studying off-campus, and more. William & Mary students brought the resourcefulness our university is known for, in navigating the pace of a compressed semester. Our fall calendar anticipated a winter surge and the urgent need we face now, nationally, to minimize every path of transmission for COVID-19.

Every member of the William & Mary community should take pride in the way that students, faculty, and staff embraced the responsibility to protect one another’s health and support one another’s learning and work under extraordinarily difficult circumstances. This accomplishment is hard-earned. Yet at a time of loss and sacrifice, we have also made gains. The lessons we are learning in flexibility, humility, and generosity in the face of uncertainty will sustain William & Mary this spring and beyond.

May the coming weeks keep you and your loved ones well. May the holidays bring respite, companionship, and joy that we have reached this season together.

Happy Thanksgiving,

– Katherine

Katherine A. Rowe

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End of Fall and Start of Spring - Details for Planning

November 10, 2020

Dear Students,

What a fall this has been! As we move into these last days of the semester, I am deeply grateful to and for you — for your resilience, your creativity and your fortitude. As vice president for student affairs, I have never felt more proud of our students than I do this year. Thank you for consistently embodying the spirit of community. Whether you have been here in Williamsburg or are studying remotely, we would not be where we are this semester without you. 

Looking ahead to the transition from the fall to the spring semester, I want to be sure you have as much current information as possible to assist you in your planning. There is something here for all students (graduate and undergraduate), whether you live on campus, off campus or are studying remotely.

Leaving Campus Residences this Fall

  • Undergraduate Residence Halls close on November 25 at 10 a.m. Be sure to carefully review the move-out steps outlined by Residence Life
  • Remaining on campus after November 25 at 10 a.m. is not an option
  • Students living in the Graduate Complex or Tribe Square are permitted to remain in their current apartment, but must verify they are staying via the housing portal

Spring Academic Schedule

  • Spring semester course delivery attributes will be in Banner by Friday, November 13
  • Classes will begin in Spring 2021 according to the following schedule:
    • January 4: Executive MBA Program
    • January 11: Online Graduate Programs (Business and Education)
    • January 19: Law School
    • January 25: Full-Time MBA, Flex MBA, MAcc, MSBA
    • January 27: Undergraduates, Grad A&S, Marine Science, Education (residential programs)
  • In order to phase our return to campus, all undergraduate classes will take place via remote instruction from January 27 – February 9
  • In person and blended instruction for undergraduates begins on February 10
  • The graduate schools do not anticipate delaying in-person instruction but will advise their students directly if that changes

Pre-Arrival COVID-19 Testing for Spring

  • COVID-19 testing is required for ALL students returning to campus for the spring semester. Stay tuned for more information on the return-to-campus testing requirements.

Moving into Campus Residences for Spring

  • Students who studied remotely in fall and wish to live in residence halls in spring may complete a housing application in the housing portal.
  • We are planning a phased move-in for undergraduate students living in on-campus housing. Residence Life will provide additional details and instructions about spring move-in:
    • January 22: new students (transfer & freshmen), international students, freshmen who studied remotely in the fall
    • January 23-24: freshmen who lived on campus in the fall / international students
    • January 30: seniors
    • February 6-7: sophomores / juniors

Housing Contracts and Prorated Fees

  • Students scheduled to move in on January 30 will receive a $100 rebate and those arriving February 6-7 will receive $200.
  • Students who lived on campus in the fall but have a fully remote schedule for the spring semester may request a release from their housing contracts. The deadline to request a release is February 5. Requests can be submitted via the housing portal and will be reviewed within 7 business days.

Spring Meal Plans

  • Fall meal plan selections will automatically roll to the spring semester and students are able to make one allowable change through the add/drop period at
  • Students with a meal plan this fall who plan to study remotely in the spring must log on to to drop their meal plan for the spring after receiving email notice that the fall meal plan has rolled to the spring and any campus housing cancellations have been processed. 
  • Any unused Dining Dollars from fall meal plans will roll forward for students who retain a spring meal plan; for students who do not maintain a spring meal plan, unused Dining Dollars will expire on November 25, 2020.
  • W&M will automatically default students to the Block 175 meal plan if they are newly registered for campus housing in the spring and do not self-select a meal plan by the start of the semester.  Visit W&M Dining for more information.


Please take a moment to review FAQs about the transition from fall to spring semester. If you still have questions, please submit a comment so that we may address any concerns and update our FAQs accordingly.

Thank you for the dedication you have shown throughout this semester. I wish you all the best as you finish your classes and exams and prepare for a well-deserved break in just a few weeks. 


Virginia M. Ambler ’88, Ph.D. ‘06

Vice President for Student Affairs

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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

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Additional On-site COVID-19 Testing

October 14, 2020

Dear Students:

Beginning Monday, October 19, William & Mary will launch the next round on-site testing for students. We must remain vigilant so that we can move quickly to identify positive cases and potential exposures.

Testing will be required for:

  • All residential students
  • Students taking blended courses
  • Students enrolled in remote courses who live within 30 miles of campus (with limited exceptions for students enrolled in certain graduate programs)
  • Students with a W&M meal plan
  • Students who may be coming to the campus, yet aren’t in any of the groups listed above, may choose to opt-in for the testing. Please use this form.

We’ll be providing each of you with a date for your test, and then you’ll schedule the time of day. Please watch your email for a link from the Testing Coordination Team. Each person will schedule a ten-minute slot for their test. Slots are first come, first served.

Day one of on-site testing is Monday, October 19, and we’ll continue with testing daily through Thursday, October 30. With the exception of October 19, when we’ll start at 9:00 AM, testing will be available for students from 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. each day.

All tests will be conducted at Kaplan Arena, which has ample room for testing stations, safe physical distancing and free, short-term parking for this testing in the Compton Lot.

  • Please enter the building at the ticket booth (glass) doors on the concourse level, at the corner of Ukrop Way and Compton Drive.
  • Entry will be restricted to these doors. You’ll exit using a different door, adjacent to your testing station.
  • Students who need to use the elevator to access the concourse level of Kaplan Arena may arrange shuttle service.

Please note that these will once again be COVID-19 PCR nasal swab tests, the same as Round 2 of testing and current prevalence testing. The upcoming tests will also be processed by William & Mary’s partner lab, Wisconsin Diagnostic Laboratories, facilitated by VCU Health System.

Please bring your student ID, and wear a mask. If you have any questions, please contact the Testing Coordination Team at [[COVIDtest]].

Testing is a critical part of the commitment we make to mitigate risks associated with COVID-19. Thank you for helping to safeguard the health of your fellow W&M students, as well as faculty, staff and members of our neighboring community.

W&M Testing Coordination Team

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Student Conduct Violations -- Healthy Together Community Commitment

September 12, 2020

Dear Students,

The health and safety of our community is our top priority, and I am proud to see so many students, faculty and staff abiding by our Healthy Together Community Commitment. Unfortunately, a number of students on campus this weekend were found to be in violation of those guidelines, the Student Code of Conduct, the Residence Life Housing Contract and state law. They gathered in a group exceeding our size guidelines, without the space to physically distance, were not wearing masks and possessed alcohol while underage. Their actions have resulted in sanctions, which in some instances include removal from campus housing and/or separation from the campus community.

In an email to you Aug. 21, Dean of Students Marjorie Thomas reiterated the importance of the Healthy Together Community Commitment. We take this seriously, especially since the stakes for everyone’s health and safety are so high. In that message, she emphasized that confirmed conduct violations would be dealt with through the student conduct process and could result in consequences – including separation. Removal of any member of our university community is not a decision we take lightly, and following our student conduct procedures provides due process for each individual.

A successful on-campus fall semester depends on intentional acts of caring and respect for each other and for the community as a whole. Since early August we have seen that the vast majority of students, faculty and staff are fully committed to doing what is required to safeguard one another. We are asking you to continue following W&M’s policies developed with such mutual respect in mind.

We need everyone to be on board – with masks, physical distancing and our other preventive measures – and with re-imagining social life in creative ways, consistent with those measures. It’s a challenge, a challenge for every one of us, but we don’t shy away from challenges at William & Mary. Even with full compliance, the health and safety of our community will remain vulnerable. We must do all in our power to protect one another.

Ginger Ambler

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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 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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Additional On-site COVID-19 Testing

September 7, 2020

Dear Students:

We’re writing with important news about a COVID-19 testing update. Beginning tomorrow, September 8, William & Mary will launch on-site testing for our students. Because our initial testing round began several weeks ago – and based on patterns we are seeing at other campuses, during the first week after arrival – we have decided to conduct a second required round of testing. We must remain vigilant so that we can move quickly to identify positive cases and potential exposures. 

Testing will be required for:

  • All residential students
  • Students taking blended courses
  • Students enrolled in remote courses who live within 30 miles of campus (with limited exceptions for students enrolled in certain graduate programs)
  • Students with a W&M meal plan
  • Students who may be coming to the campus, yet aren’t in any of the groups listed above, may choose to opt-in for the testing. Please use this form.

We’ll be providing each of you with a date for your test, and then you’ll schedule the time of day. Please watch your email for a link from the Testing Coordination Team. Each person will schedule a 10-minute slot for their test. Slots are first come, first served.

Day one of on-site testing is Tuesday, Sept. 8, and we’ll continue with testing daily through Friday, Sept. 18. With the exception of September 8, when we’ll start at 9:30 a.m., testing will be available for students from 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. each day.

All tests will be conducted at Kaplan Arena, which has ample room for testing stations, safe physical distancing and parking.

  • Please enter the building at the ticket booth (glass) doors on the concourse level, at the corner of Ukrop Way and Compton Drive.
  • Entry will be restricted to these doors. You’ll exit using a different door, adjacent to your testing station.
  • Students who need to use the elevator to access the concourse level of Kaplan Arena may arrange shuttle service

Please note that these will be COVID-19 PCR nasal swab tests, a change from the pre-arrival and prevalence throat swabs with which you will be familiar. The upcoming tests will also be processed by William & Mary’s new partner lab, Wisconsin Diagnostic Laboratories, facilitated by VCU Health System.

Please bring your student ID, and wear a mask. If you have any questions, please contact the Testing Coordination Team at [[COVIDtest]].

Testing is a critical part of the commitment we make to mitigate risks associated with COVID-19. Thank you for helping to safeguard the health of your fellow W&M students, as well as faculty, staff and members of our neighboring community. 

W&M Testing Coordination Team

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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 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 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 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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Preparing for the Start of In-Person Classes

September 4, 2020

Dear Students,

We are so looking forward to welcoming our sophomores, juniors, and seniors back to campus this weekend! As we anticipate this final phase of move-in before the start of in-person classes on Tuesday, I write to share several important messages for those who have chosen to be on campus to live and learn this fall:

  • Healthy Together. Abiding by our Healthy Together Community Commitment is essential. I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished together so far, and our newest students are leading the way! Since early August, students on campus have taken our safety and wellness protocols to heart, with mask-wearing and physical distancing having become shared norms. Those healthy habits are mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our community. While we are prepared to support students who may be diagnosed with the virus, we are grateful that, to date, no student on campus has tested positive for COVID-19.

We cannot let up. Our commitment to each other is especially critical this weekend and in the week ahead as a new cohort of 1600+ students join our in-person community. Spikes in positive COVID-19 cases at other institutions came in the first few days after students arrived on campus, often as a result of large gatherings where mask-wearing and physical distancing expectations were ignored.

  • We’re asking you for a quiet weekend before in-person classes start. Party weekends before classes start have been the recipe for contagion at many other schools. It is in your power to ensure that such gatherings do not happen here.

Returning students: We ask that you join into our shared norms with curiosity and respect: be mindful of the effort it takes to integrate COVID-19 rules of conduct into daily, healthy social habits. Those habits will be the key to a successful in-person fall semester at W&M. Connect with your friends in small groups, outside (where the ventilation is good), and with masks on.

  • Expanded on-campus testing. All students (undergraduate and graduate) who will be physically present on campus this fall will undergo a required second round of testing that will be administered on-site. We are watching what is happening at other institutions – time and again, COVID-19 cases are spiking among students during the first week of on-campus instruction. The lesson for us is to move quickly to identify positive cases and potential exposures. Early next week you will receive more detailed information about this additional layer of tests. In addition to a second full round of testing, we will continue as planned with on-campus prevalence testing of students and employees, as well as with testing of symptomatic students at the Student Health Center. In response to questions about our testing services and partners, updated information is available on our Path Forward website.

After discussion with Student Assembly leadership, we are also emphasizing the following for this coming week:

  • Take-out dining. In order to de-densify, we ask that all students take the opportunity to dine outside as much as possible through this first week. All dining halls have to-go options; Marketplace and Commons are operating with more than 50% of offerings as meals-to-go, as will Sadler Center Court when it opens today. Download the BiteU app or visit to see the current occupancy percentages for Commons, Marketplace, Sadler Center Court, and Sadler Express, a new 100% to-go option. New online ordering is also available through the BiteU app for pick up at the Tribe Truck and Marketplace.
  • Flexible return to in-person classes. Today the provost asked faculty to provide increased flexibility for students who wish to take an additional week of remote learning as they return to campus. This will increase confidence with the students in our Healthy Together Commitment.

Thank you again for taking the necessary steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on our campus and in the local community. I am inspired by the resilience and compassion so many have demonstrated during this time. I am especially grateful to the students who have been on campus for several weeks already and who are modeling the way. May we continue to take care of each other.


Ginger Ambler

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Testing services at W&M

August 26, 2020

Dear William & Mary Community,

We’ve been hearing your questions regarding COVID-19 testing and the partners that William & Mary – along with several other Virginia universities – have been working with to conduct screening and prevalence testing. COVID-19 testing is relatively new and questions are understandable. So I write to provide some answers and let you know how to find additional information.

Testing is an important part of the multiple strategies W&M uses to safeguard the health of students and employees by reducing transmission on campus. At-home testing for students before arrival ensures that those testing positive can self-isolate at home and not unknowingly bring the virus to campus. Prevalence testing on campus allows us to track spread. At-will testing empowers employees to be aware of their own health status.

Because safeguarding the health of our community is a central concern, we (in consultation with our VCU Health System partners) considered several options to meet these different requirements. We determined that the logistics company Kallaco and its CLIA-Certified lab partners, including Opteo, provided the best balance of things we needed: high-quality clinical testing laboratories (CLIA is the gold standard); volume of tests available for those laboratories, and turnaround times. We and our VCU Health partners actively pursued due diligence from the beginning and continue to do so.

Based on these discussions, I write to share the following answers to the most frequently asked questions. More answers about W&M’s approach to testing may be found on our website; questions about Kallaco and Opteo may be found here.

  • Approvals: As a CLIA-Certified lab, Opteo Laboratory is allowed to develop Laboratory Developed Tests (LDTs) and is authorized under the Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) provisions to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID-19.
  • Modes of collection: Like many certified clinical testing laboratories in the United States that conduct COVID-19 tests, Opteo is allowed to use both self-collected and clinically-collected samples for diagnosis under the same EUA.
  • Validation: Opteo confirms it has conducted validations for their COVID-19 diagnostic tests consistent with CLIA certification. More information on the test kit, protocols and reliability may be found at Kallaco’s website.

As a reminder for those on campus, W&M conducts in-person symptomatic testing at our Student Health Center and prevalence testing at our new VCU Health clinic at North Henry St.

We are committed to your health and safety. We will continue to work to ensure that we follow the science as we enhance our testing capacity. Please don’t hesitate to send more questions to


Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer

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COVID-19 Prevalence Testing Coming Soon

August 21, 2020

Dear W&M Students,

As you know, William & Mary 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 and employees are chosen periodically to take COVID-19 tests so the university can rapidly assess potential community spread. Our plan is for 5% of the student population and 2% of employees to be tested every two weeks throughout the semester, pulled from the local and on-campus population. These tests are administered at no cost to you.

Next week will be the first week of prevalence testing at W&M. As a result, some local students will 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.

You should make efforts to schedule your testing appointment around your class schedule, but if you cannot avoid a conflict, you will be excused from class. If you are sick or symptomatic when you are randomly selected, please contact the Student Health Center for evaluation and further instructions; do not make an appointment for prevalence testing if you are ill. Should a student test positive for COVID-19, they will be contacted by the Student Health Center.

Only students who are not currently located in the region or not planning to return to Williamsburg will be excused from mandatory prevalence testing. 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]].

Participating in prevalence testing is a condition to which we have agreed in order to work, study or receive on-campus services 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 protect the health of your friends, faculty members and support staff. It is mandatory. We hope you will participate willingly, but need to advise you that failure to follow testing instructions may result in disciplinary action.

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

 We must continue to do all we can to keep our community healthy.


Ginger Ambler ’88, Ph.D. ‘06
Vice President for Student Affairs

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Effective Immediately: COVID Zero Tolerance Policy

August 21, 2020

Dear Students, 

As we head into the weekend, I write to those of you who continue to act in selfish ways that put our in-person semester at risk. While many students are complying with the rules and regulations set forth in our Healthy Together Community Commitment, too many are not. It only takes a handful of students behaving recklessly to jeopardize the ability for all of us to be on campus this fallThere will be repercussions if you do not abide by our safety protocolsWe are firm in our convictions – our actions will be swift and direct for those who aren’t following the guidelines we have in place.  

  • Our Zero Tolerance Policyis IMMEDIATELY in effect: 
    • Large student gatherings of any kind – both on- and off-campus – are not permitted. Students may not gather in groups of more than 10 people. There can be no large parties this fall.
    • Students must comply with mask expectations. Masks must be worn inside at all times unless you are in a space exclusively occupied by the people in your immediate living unit. Masks must be worn outside unless you are engaged in an activity where you can consistently maintain a distance of 6 feet from others. Masks should be worn when moving around on campus. Student must maintain a 6-foot physical distance when interacting with people other than those with whom they share their immediate living unit. 
  • If you do not wear a mask and physical distance or if you host or attend large gatherings that violate the Healthy Together Commitment, you will NOT be allowed to be present on campusthis semester (either in a residence hall or elsewhere, including classrooms and the library). You will be required to leave and remain off campus and to complete the rest of the semester remotely – and potentially face suspension. You may also be tested for COVID-19 in case contact tracing is necessary. Student organizations will also be held accountable and subject to sanctions. A complete summary of specific disciplinary actions and consequences students will face if they do not adhere to the Healthy Together Community Commitment can be found on the Dean of Students website.
  • We will be doing active Party Patrols until the behavior stops. Police (in the community and on campus) and university administrators will document and respond swiftly to alleged violations wherever they occur. 
  • Students and other members of the W&M community are encouraged to report violations of the Healthy Together Community Commitment using the COVID concerns form. Please note that intentional submissions of false reports are subject to disciplinary action.
  • In order to ensure due process for students who are reported to have violated the Healthy Together Commitment, all COVID-related matters will be addressed via Administrative Resolution by the Community Values and Restorative Practices (CVRP). If you see something, say something. Remind your friends to wear their masks and keep a physical distance. Hold one another accountable.

Do not be selfish – your actions impact the entire community. 

Do not be the person who causes us to shut down this semester. 

Do not be the reason that valued W&M employees are furloughed or lose their jobs.  

Do not test the resolve of this university to take swift action to prioritize the health and well-being of our campus and the Williamsburg community. 

The world is watching, and we want W&M to be the model for how universities can successfully operate in person during a pandemic. This is the time to show everyone what W&M students are capable of doing. Without your compliance, our fall semester on campus will be over before it starts. We can succeed where so many other schools could not – that number of universities is growing daily. We can do this – but only if we are ALL IN together. 

Be well,  

Marjorie Thomas 

Dean of Students 

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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.


Katherine A. Rowe

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.


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.


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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Healthy Together: Accountability & Consequences

August 18, 2020

Dear Students, 

As we embark on a new semester tomorrow, the importance of our Healthy Together Community Commitment cannot be overstated. On nearly a daily basis, new reports emerge from institutions around the country of behavior that endangers the health of entire communities. This simply cannot happen at William & Mary, or we, too, will be forced to abandon the opportunity to live and learn together in person this fall. 

Integrity is one of William & Mary’s core values and a hallmark of this community. We have always enforced violations of our codes affecting the university community, from the nation’s oldest student-led honor system to the university’s conduct system. The COVID-19 pandemic requires that we uphold our commitments to one another at all times and locations, on campus and off. Amid pandemic, there is no place that individual choices are without consequence to the health of the William & Mary community. 

Every enrolled student has affirmed the Healthy Together Community Commitment and their willingness to adhere to the university’s COVID-related health and safety rules. Violations of this personal commitment endanger our collective well-being and will result in disciplinary action. Such behavior, though undertaken individually, puts at risk the community’s ability to learn together in person, and also the individual’s status at William & Mary.  

In addition to the Healthy Together Community Commitment, every student at William & Mary is accountable to the Student Code of Conduct. All residential students also have agreed to adhere to specific Covid-19 Health and Well-Being Policies as part of their housing contract. Violations of these agreements will have consequences

Members of our community are not expected to police one another, however, we have a shared responsibility to do everything within our power to reduce the spread of this virus. Reports – which we are actively investigating – that some of our students are gathering with no regard for their commitment to mitigate the risk of transmitting COVID-19 are disheartening. Verified disregard for mask-wearing, social distancing and other practices will not be tolerated. They constitute direct violations of the Healthy Together Community Commitment that each of us affirmed. 

Our mission calls us to convene together, and we have all explicitly committed to supporting that mission in this time. For those of you who are or will soon be in Williamsburg, we need you to prioritize the health of our community – every day, every week and every weekend for the entire semester! If you do not intend to comply with our guidelines and shared expectations, do not come to campus.  

This has been a very difficult year for us all. The pandemic has required us to adopt new behaviors, and we share in this challenge together. Our community’s well-being is paramount. It is imperative that you do your part to safeguard everyone’s health at William & Mary. 

We are here for you. We are here with you. And we can do this together. 

Be well, 

Marjorie Thomas 

Dean of Students 

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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 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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CORRECTION: COVID-19 Test Results Time Frame 

August 7, 2020

Dear William & Mary students,

Recently I shared with you detailed instructions for registering with Kallaco so we may send you an off-campus COVID-19 test based on your move-in date or the date you will resume in-person classes.

The prior message you received included incorrect information regarding the time frame for tests to be analyzed and results posted for view in your Kallaco account. The correct time frame is between 36-72 hours of receipt of the test kit by the lab.

We anticipated a 72-hour maximum turnaround time in determining when to mail the test kits to you.  Assuming you returned the kits as promptly as expected, we do not anticipate the turnaround from lab to results will affect your ability to move in or begin classes as scheduled; however, we want you to know accurately when your test results will be available to view.

Questions can still be submitted to us at Thank you for your patience as we continue to work diligently to ensure a safe and successful fall 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

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 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 on-line 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.


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, W&M waived the copay for voluntary, at-will COVID-19 testing for faculty and staff.

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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Class of 2020 Commencement Update

July 20, 2020

Dear W&M Class of 2020,

Our dearest wish was to celebrate your Commencement in-person and on campus in October.  We know our graduates and families want to be able to gather freely, in large numbers for everything from the Candlelight Ceremony and Walk Across Campus, to our formal exercises themselves. Unfortunately, as we look ahead to the fall semester, gathering graduates and families in these ways is neither safe nor feasible in light of the ongoing pandemic.

Many safeguards have been instituted on campus to reduce risk for students, faculty and staff — eg. no outside visitors, limitations on gatherings, social distancing and mask-wearing both inside and outdoors. Those safeguards will remain in place through at least December 2020. In light of those conditions and with the health and safety of our W&M community as our highest priority, in-person Family Weekend and Homecoming & Reunions Weekend will be re-imagined as opportunities for virtual gatherings. While Virginia remains in Phase III, the fall is uncertain, and we recognize that families may not feel safe traveling here from elsewhere.

Though I regret that we cannot invite graduates and families back to campus for an October Commencement weekend, our commitment to you is unwavering. Our goal is to host a grand celebration in May 2021 for the Class of 2020, with all the joy and the cherished traditions that make W&M Commencements special. We are considering the optimal timing for your Commencement, keeping in mind that the Classes of 2020 and 2021 will each have their own ceremonies and celebrations. We will let you know the exact dates in a few weeks so you and your families can plan accordingly. Detailed information about the schedule of Commencement events will be shared early in the spring semester.

Wishing each of you health and happiness. You are missed!


Ginger Ambler
Chair, Commencement Committee
Vice President for Student Affairs

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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 members may not opt for face shields in lieu of masks. -- Ed.

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.

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.
  • 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.


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 Students

July 1, 2020

Dear Students,

I write to provide additional information about W&M’s plans for the fall semester. Thank you for the questions you have submitted through the Path Forward website and via email. Planning continues apace and I hope this message will address many of your queries. 

Because we are solidifying plans and attending to critical logistics on a daily basis, you will continue to receive communications and updates from W&M between now and mid-August when the semester begins – there is more to come.

I write to share essential information for students. Please read through all information, which includes: 

  • Fall Course Offerings and Options
  • Accommodations
  • Health and Safety Updates
  • Campus Housing Updates
  • Campus Dining Updates
  • Family Weekend 2020
  • Calendar Overview

We recognize that this fall semester will feel very different for us all. Following CDC and Virginia Health Department guidelines for living together under pandemic conditions will bring unique challenges, such as mask wearing, physical distancing and many more adaptations to how we work and learn together. I am confident we will be able to create a strong and supportive community. 

Universities around the country will be facing similar challenges. At W&M, faculty and staff – in partnership with student affairs and with student leaders – can build upon the very qualities that set W&M apart. We have the advantage of being a close-knit community already. We will redouble our efforts to support one another, to reach out and to commit to making choices that minimize risk to all. 

Working closely with our local and state health officials, as well as our Virginia university partners, W&M is closely monitoring all guidance related to health and safety practices and protocols. We are making decisions in a phased, evidence-based way and understand that flexibility is essential to remaining responsive to changing public health contexts. 

Above all, be assured that your alma mater is committed to your well-being, and to offering an educational experience that enables you to do your best work while sustaining momentum to your degree. We continue to plan in earnest for your return, to ensure you have options, and we look forward to the start of our 2020-21 academic year. 


Ginger Ambler
Virginia M. Ambler ’88, Ph.D. ‘06
Vice President for Student Affairs
William & Mary

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 students
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.

Fall Course Offerings
Guiding Principles and Resources for Course Delivery

All courses will be delivered in a format that provides meaningful interaction between faculty and students and that reflects William & Mary’s high quality of teaching and learning. As such, almost all courses will be “blended” to some degree, with students learning in real time and instruction delivered both directly and via technology throughout the semester.

The university’s goal is to prioritize safety while offering as much in-person instruction as possible.

Resources to support in-person instruction include:

  • An inventory of extremely large non-academic spaces available for instruction in the fall, so that physical distancing of eight feet on center can be maintained for up to 80 students in one room.
  • Instructional design support for technology-enhanced instruction.
  • PPE for faculty and staff and cleaning protocols for instructional spaces.
  • Testing protocols developed in partnership with VCU, VT, UVA and other universities in our public higher education system.
  • Virginia’s Phase 3 of reopening began July 1. If maintained, this will allow meetings of more than 50 people to occur, so large lecture classes can meet in person (either the entire group at once or half or a third at a time).

Extreme flexibility will be crucial throughout the fall.

  • Working closely with our local and state health officials, as well as our Virginia university partners, W&M is closely monitoring all guidance related to health and safety practices and protocols. We are making decisions in a phased, evidence-based way and understand extreme flexibility is essential to our plan.
  • Faculty have been advised to prepare classes in a way that makes it possible to switch to full remote learning on short notice, in the event Virginia public health requires this.
  • Modes of delivery will change as circumstances change but an instructional category will be noted in Banner as a good-faith attempt to inform students of faculty intent and plans going into the fall semester.
  • More details on delivery and additional instructional time and content will appear in the syllabus.

Categories of Course Delivery

Faculty are in the process of assigning course delivery information to our fall classes in Banner. These categories will be added in Banner as class attributes by July 15. Read the descriptions of high-level categories for course delivery:

  • FS: Predominantly face-to-face and predominantly synchronous
  • MIX: Blend of in-person instruction with expanded remote delivery of instructional material, content and activity
  • RA: Predominantly remote and asynchronous
  • RSOC: Predominantly remote and synchronous, on campus
  • RSOF: Predominantly remote and synchronous, off-campus

Choosing Remote Instruction

By looking up course attributes in Banner, students will be able to craft a fully remote schedule for the fall semester if that is their preference. Not all courses will be available in a fully remote format, so students should seek academic guidance in advance to be sure selected courses support the student’s progress toward their degree/major. The following are available for consultation and referral as needed:

Undergraduates: Shelly Laurenzo, Office of Academic Advising
Graduate School of A&S: Chasity Roberts, Assistant to the Dean
Graduate School of Ed: Jim Barber (returning students), Dot Osborne (new students)
Other Graduate Schools: Contact your school registrar

NOTE: W&M’s on-campus residency requirements notwithstanding, any freshman or sophomore student electing a fully-remote curriculum may be released from their campus housing contract with no penalty in order to reside at their permanent home address for the fall semester.

Summer Course Offerings

A number of students have inquired about Summer 2021 course offerings. We will have more general information about Summer 2021 later this summer.

Important Dates Related to Fall Courses

  • June 25-July 7 – Registration for undergraduate Transfer Students
  • July 13-July 30 – New undergraduates registration -- check your time ticket in Banner as different groups register on different dates
  • July 15 – courses will have been assigned attributes in Banner designating course delivery categories. It will be updated on the Open Course List. **Not all courses will be available online. Students may need to adjust their schedule if they wish to take all of their courses remotely. No special permission is needed to take courses online
  • Week of August 3 – Continuing students can make changes to their schedule based on updated course offerings and modalities
  • August 18 – Add/Drop is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.
  • August 19 – Classes begin

Note: Students are limited to registering for 16 credits until add/drop begins.


Students who need accessibility accommodations to fully participate in the fall semester – campus housing, curricular offerings, etc. – should reach out to the Office of Student Accessibility Services. Staff members in that office are experienced in supporting students who have accessibility needs, including students who are immunocompromised. We will work with students (and their faculty as appropriate) to be sure they are in a position to be successful this semester.

Health & Safety

W&M's COVID-19 Response Team has outlined significant risk reduction measures W&M is taking to prepare for the fall. Please review the updates that include information about PPE, plans for symptom tracking and testing, hygiene practices and disinfecting protocols, face covering requirements and adaptations for both classroom and co-curricular spaces, including dining and residence halls. Additional information about testing plans and protocols will be shared later this month.

By diligently adhering to the practices of physical distancing, good hand and personal environment hygiene, appropriate mask wearing, daily monitoring of symptoms – as well as testing, quarantine if warranted, and isolation of individuals who test positive for the coronavirus – we can significantly reduce the risk of spreading the virus through on-campus activities. It is important to realize, however, that elimination of all risk is not possible. A return to campus, like all aspects of life, carries with it potential risk. We can mitigate, but not eliminate, risk of coronavirus transmission.

Committed to One Another’s Safety

Our ability to flourish through fall will depend on the commitment each member of the W&M community makes to one another’s health and safety. At W&M, we take care of one another. Through education and regular public health messaging across campus, we will reinforce that everyone must follow the guidelines for mitigating risk during this time of pandemic, including mask wearing, physical distancing and handwashing.

Self-Quarantine Prior to Arrival

All domestic students are expected to self-quarantine for eight days before arriving on-campus; students coming from international destinations must self-quarantine per CDC Guidelines (currently 14 days). Quarantine may occur anywhere the student feels most comfortable, e.g. at home with family, at an apartment, at a hotel, etc. When traveling to Williamsburg, all students should practice prevention to mitigate risks of contracting COVID-19 (wearing a mask, social distancing, regular hand-washing). Traveling to Williamsburg does not require a student to “reset” the quarantine clock upon arrival, as long as they quarantined for the appropriate time and practiced transmission prevention during travel.

Quarantine or Isolation While at School
  • Widespread and periodic testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic students will mean that at any given point in time, a large number of our community will be awaiting test results. Isolation of asymptomatic individuals awaiting test results is NOT the recommendation of trusted authorities such as the CDC or VDH. Such individuals should continue the universal precautions and protocols that are expected of our entire community, and remain in their places of residence. In other words, asymptomatic students will await test results wherever they live.
  • Symptomatic individuals awaiting test results will need to self-quarantine, rather than remain in their assigned residence halls. Those students may choose temporary housing in Richmond Hall, which has been identified as suitable for isolation (separate, exterior room doors, individual bathrooms, etc.) Students may also opt to return to their permanent homes/families as they await results.
  • Richmond Hall is also identified for housing any on-campus students with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Active cases within the student population will be monitored through the Student Health Center under guidance from the Center's medical director. Faculty will work with students isolating in Richmond Hall to ensure flexibility for completing course work. Meals will be delivered to students in isolation in Richmond Hall.
Testing Plans and Protocols

Additional information about testing plans and protocols will be shared later this month – details are being finalized in collaboration with a partnering third-party healthcare provider. Our testing and other public health protocols are based on ongoing epidemiological modeling being developed by VCU, UVA and VT as Virginia's academic medical centers. As a reminder,

  • Our testing program will likely require all students to be tested for COVID-19 on arrival and will allow employees to take advantage of optional testing services partially subsidized by the university.
  • Touchless temperature stations placed strategically around campus will support self-assessment.
  • Symptomatic students may be tested and treated through the Student Health Center.
  • W&M will be significantly increasing its capacity to provide access to healthcare on campus.
  • At-will testing will be offered to students as they leave for the semester, as an additional precaution for their home communities.
Campus Housing, Move-In and Orientation

All residential students received an email communication on June 17 from the Office of Residence Life outlining new expectations and policies for on-campus living during this upcoming semester. Please review the 2020-21 Resource Guide (pdf) for more details, but a summary of essential points include:

  • Move in dates confirmed:
    • Aug 8-11 Returning Students Phase I
    • Aug 12-14 New Students
    • Aug 15-18 Returning Students Phase II
  • New Student Housing Assignments were made available via the housing portal on July 8.
  • We are managing returning student room change requests as we can. On-campus space is limited so options for moves are few at this time.
  • On July 15, Student Affairs shared detailed plans for Check-In and New Student Orientation. Check your email often.
  • Residence Hall check-in will take place by appointment.
    • Students will receive a window of time during which they can log on and select a check-in appointment. This must be done in time slots, as the housing assignment system can only manage a specific number of people using it at a given time.
  • Students should check their W&M email daily for updates and news.
  • Residential students will need to take good care of themselves and one another. Please read the Residence Life Resource Guide (pdf) for changes to policies and expectations regarding managing in safe and healthy ways in our halls.
  • Freshman and sophomore students are still required to live on campus unless (1) their permanent home address is within 60 miles of Williamsburg and they prefer to live at home and commute to classes on campus, or (2) their fall coursework is fully remote and they wish to remain at their permanent home address. Freshman and sophomores who remain at their permanent home to take classes remotely may request housing contract release without penalty.
  • Social class juniors, seniors, and graduate students may request housing contract release without penalty.
Campus Dining Updates
  • Safety measures being taken in the area of Campus Dining were detailed in Sam Jones’ message from the COVID-19 Response Team.
  • The deadline for residential undergraduate students to select a meal plan was July 8. Those who did not make a selection by that date were automatically enrolled in the Gold 19 plan.
  • For more information on meal plans, please visit
Family Weekend 2020

For Fall 2020, use of space at William & Mary is dedicated to core mission activities and restricted to the immediate campus community. Based on these determinations and the most recent federal and state guidelines, Family Weekend 2020 will be re-imagined as a fully virtual event. Please continue to save September 25-27, 2020, on your calendar and expect to receive more details regarding a schedule of virtual events via email, social media and our website as the summer progresses.

Calendar Overview

We will continue to add to this calendar overview so all students have the dates that are most critical to  planning for fall. New W&M students should also reference the Tribe Guide Checklist for remaining program and task deadlines.

  • June 25-July 7 -- Registration for undergraduate transfer students
  • July 8 – New student housing assignments announced
  • July 8, 5 p.m. – Meal plan selection deadline
  • July 15 – Details about orientation, residence hall check-in, and move-in process announced
  • July 15 – Listing of fall course delivery available (including delivery mode designations)
  • Week of August 3 – Continuing students and new transfer students can make changes to schedules
  • Aug 8-11 – Returning Students Phase I move-in (returning students with a need to arrive early)
  • Aug 12-14 – New Student move-in (freshman, transfers, Joint Degree Programme)
  • Aug 13-18 – Returning Students Phase II move-in (all other returning students)
  • August 18 – Add/Drop is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.
  • August 19 – Classes begin

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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
Director, COVID-19 Response Team

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New Text App for Your Immediate Input - W&M&You

June 18, 2020

Dear Student,

At William & Mary we care about what our students think. During the social distancing of COVID-19, we have been looking for ways to stay in close contact with you. Both the Provost’s Office and Student Affairs want and need your real-time input concerning questions related to planning for the fall semester and beyond.

Now, you can provide your immediate feedback to critical questions through the new text app we will be piloting called W&M&You. By opting-in, you will receive periodic texts from campus administration asking what you think, how you feel or what you want related to a particular question. You will be able to quickly register your opinion by responding to the text with a yes/no or numerical value. Responses will be tallied as they come in, but not saved by individual student.

We want to hear your voice and believe this app will help us better stay in touch with student opinions as we plan ahead. Please opt-in by filling out the subscription form. You will receive a confirmation once you have been subscribed. Save the number 757-221-IDEA (4332) to your contacts. The same subscription form can also be used to opt-out if you no longer wish to participate.

Technology Questions? Contact the Technology Support Center (TSC)
757-221-4357 (HELP) or [[support]]

We look forward to connecting with you!

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

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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

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

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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

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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

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

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Information on Exam Proctoring

April 16, 2020

Dear faculty and students,

Spring is upon us, and we are looking ahead to the end of classes and the beginning of final exams. As you know, whether courses are delivered on campus or online, there are a range of ways to assess student learning. These include final papers, individual or collaborative projects, and cumulative exams. In some cases, due to student and/or course requirements, exams are proctored.

Resources for faculty

There are many ways to help ensure the integrity of the learning and assessment processes. Specific resources and considerations for instructors can be found in this matrix and on the W&M Keep Teaching site.

Remote proctoring

Exam proctoring is something W&M regularly offers and uses to meet needs of specific students and/or courses. Proctoring protects the integrity of the testing process, thereby maintaining a level playing field for all students.

The university does not require all online exams to be remote proctored, but does provide instructors with the option when useful for high-stakes testing in classes needed for graduate programs or summative assessments in large classes.

For the limited number of courses that require proctored exams, W&M will use Honorlock. Honorlock is an online remote proctoring service that allows students to take exams from home. It operates within Blackboard and Google Chrome to validate identity and monitor student exam sessions via screen and webcam recordings.

  • Access:
    • Students do not need to create an account or schedule an appointment in advance. All that is needed is a computer with the Chrome browser, a working webcam & microphone, and a stable Internet connection.
  • Security:
    • Honorlock is active only during a proctored exam and does not access your camera or microphone outside of a proctored session. Students can easily remove the Honorlock browser extension from Chrome after completing an exam.
    • Honorlock is FERPA compliant and uses securely encrypted protocols to save and view all test \-taker assets. Honorlock's certified proctors and W&M's faculty are able to review test session videos until deleted based on the university's retention policy. More information on privacy can be found on Honorlock’s student site.
  • Integrity:
    • Remote proctoring provides a reliable process for identity verification and secure testing environments. The use of remote proctoring does not diminish, in any way, the Honor Code or students’ pledge to uphold it.

We wish you all the best in the remaining weeks of the semester and during the exam period. 


Marjorie Thomas, Dean of Students
Mark Hofer, Director of the Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation

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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 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

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Student Rebate Distribution

April 2, 2020

Good evening,

I am pleased to offer you a link to the W&M Student Rebate portal, where you will find individual information on your personal housing, meal and parking rebates as well as your dining dollars refund.

These funds will be posted to your student account no later than Friday, April 10, and applied to any outstanding balance owed to the university. Any remaining credit will be disbursed to you. If you have signed up for direct deposit, funds will be credited to your selected bank account. If you have not signed up for direct deposit, a check will be sent to your mailing address. I urge you to sign up for direct deposit through Banner’s eServices, if you have not already done so.

The portal will also give you the option to donate your remaining rebate balance back to William & Mary to support students in need. This option was provided at the request of fellow students who desired to forego their rebates. In order to donate, you must indicate your decision to do so no later than Sunday, April 5, which will provide W&M time to process the donation. Otherwise, we will assume that you do not wish to donate at this time, and you will receive the rebate credit.

If you are experiencing dire financial need this semester, the university may be able to help. Please contact for more information and to discuss your options.

Thank you again for your patience as William & Mary finalized the policy and processes that enabled us to issue student rebates. I hope your semester is going well and that you and your family are healthy and safe.


Amy Sebring
Vice President for Finance and Technology

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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

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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

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 for more details and upcoming dates.

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Student Rebate Eligibility from VP for Finance and Technology Amy Sebring

March 30, 2020

Good afternoon,

First, I want to thank you for your continued patience as the university finalizes the details that will allow us to issue student rebates. The global novel coronavirus pandemic has William & Mary exploring how best to acknowledge the necessary changes to our current learning and working environments. This remains a very fluid situation. With that in mind, I wanted to provide an update about what to expect in the coming days.

The William & Mary Finance Office is finalizing the process of distributing student rebates and will communicate specifics with students via email no later than Thursday, April 2. Having concluded this process, the university has made the decision to offer rebates to all students with a university housing contract, meal plan and/or parking pass, regardless of the use of institutional aid.

Housing Rebates – Students will receive a rebate based on their housing type as follows:

Main Campus – All Room Types $1,200
New Campus – Doubles & Triples $1,200
New Campus – Singles $1,350
Single Buyouts $1,350
All Graduate Housing $1,350
Tribe Square $1,350

Resident assistants will receive $1200.

Meal Plans – Students will receive rebates based on their spring semester meal plan as follows:

Gold 19 and Freedom Plans $ 460
Block 175 $ 420
Block 125 $ 340
Block 100 $ 270
Commuter 50 $ 100
Commuter 25 $ 50

In addition, any remaining balance of dining dollars as of March 25 will be refunded. Rebate amounts for meal plans reflect adjustments for university costs incurred.

Parking – Students with a 2019-2020 parking decal will receive a rebate of $54. Students do not need to surrender their parking decals to receive the rebate.

Rebates will be applied to your student account on or before Friday, April 10, through direct deposit or via check if you are not currently enrolled in direct deposit. To ensure a fast and secure refund, please sign up for direct deposit through Banner’s eServices.

Be well,
Amy Sebring
Vice President for Finance and Technology

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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 ( 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.


Katherine A. Rowe

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A Message to Students from Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler

March 23, 2020

Dear Students,

​This is not the spring semester any of us could have envisioned. We surely are living in unprecedented times, and I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge the uncertainty that many of us are facing due to the rapid pace of change occurring not only at W&M, but also in our local communities, nationally, and globally. Now more than ever, I trust that our powerful sense of community will help sustain us, even as we adapt to new ways of connecting, learning, and affirming belonging.​

​As the week begins here in Williamsburg, our top priority is supporting students as on-line learning commences and as we prepare for the closing of Residence Halls on Wednesday. Some of you have sought to understand better our decision not to keep any dorms open, especially for international students. We continue to be guided first and foremost by the advice of our local health authorities. Indeed, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our community. Given the growing number of Covid-19 cases in our surrounding area, including in our campus community, we recognized that our residence halls are unsuitable for long term self-quarantine and self-isolation, which will be necessary in the weeks ahead; additionally, we are not staffed to provide a high level of health care and living support for students under pandemic conditions.​

​Students who are having difficulty implementing their personal evacuation plans under these unprecedented circumstances, will be helped on an individual basis, and we will deploy emergency funds wherever possible to ease the financial burden as students await housing, dining, and parking rebates (detailed information about rebates will be sent soon in a separate message). A compilation of resources was created and shared last week with all students who had alerted us to their urgent need; the Dean of Students and Reves Center teams are following up with those students by phone today to determine what needs have yet to be met. All students who alerted us should be contacted by the end of the day. Many of you have reached out and expressed compassion and concern for your fellow students who may be in need -- please be assured that no student will be without shelter when the residence halls close on March 25. If you, yourself, are a dorm resident who is having difficulty with your plan for moving out by Wednesday and you have not notified the Dean of Students Office, please do so right away by clicking here.  ​

​It is my sincere hope that each of you will tap into tools and resources that you have found work best for you during trying times. Below are some additional resources that you may find helpful as you transition to our new online educational environment:​

From Health & Wellness​

The departments of Health & Wellness have created a Virtual Health & Wellness site.  We have posted programs, videos and articles to enhance your wellness and resilience, including live wellness and fitness programs. Last week over 160 people join our first live, remote yoga class!  Our live programs will be recorded to be used at your convenience. Be sure to visit our Virtual Health & Wellness site where you will find an article by Dr. Kelly Crace on Flourishing during Unexpected, Uncertain, and Unwanted Change. And please download the W&M Wellness App to stay current on all events and resources.​

From the Dean of Students Office​

While William & Mary is operating on a modified academic schedule, all the departments of the Dean of Students Office are available via phone (757) 221-2510 and email. Additionally, we will have the capability of scheduling meetings with students remotely via phone or Zoom. We want to support your success as we transition online. If you need assistance, please do not hesitate to visit our website for a full listing of our departments to help in your success.​


In the days and weeks ahead, stay connected with us and with one another.  We will continue to reach out to you with updates and information we think you may find useful. Best wishes as W&M moves forward into this new virtual educational environment.  Remember that we are in this together -- all W&M offices are "open" and we are here for you.​


Ginger Ambler​

​Virginia M. Ambler, PhD​
Vice President for Student Affairs​
William & Mary 

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Readying for the Start of Classes, Student Rebates

March 21, 2020

Dear students,

We continue to be inspired by the resilience and compassion of the William & Mary community. I have heard from so many of you over the last week and our sense of shared purpose is strong. As we move through the many decisions that we face individually and as a community, our top priorities remain to keep teaching, keep learning, and keep helping each other to stay well.              

William & Mary faculty and staff are actively readying for the start of classes this coming Monday. Everyone is eager to be back in the classroom with you. Provost Agouris and the deans have encouraged teachers to approach this transition as a period of discovery, with students as our chief partners. Teaching and learning at a distance for the remainder of the semester will pose challenges, some we can anticipate and others we will encounter as we go.

So the deans, faculty, and staff are empowering each other to explore as many solutions as warranted for each discipline and each student’s learning situation. To support that effort, yesterday, Provost Agouris shared temporary adjustments to grading policy for this semester that provide options to undergraduate students in different situations. Please talk with your advisor as you consider the options that best suit you.

This week, we have also made progress on key decisions regarding room, board, and parking costs. We will continue to work through these and other consequential steps in measured ways. Even as we benefit from sharing wisdom with peer institutions in the Commonwealth and around the country, our decisions will reflect William & Mary’s unique culture and educational model.

Today, we are announcing rebates for the spring semester, for eligible students, as follows.

  • Room: Residential students will receive rebates based on their contracts. Most will receive $1,200; those with longer contracts will receive $1,350. These amounts reflect cost obligations of the university to support our housing facilities and critical personnel.
  • Meal Plan: W&M will provide rebates to students who have purchased a spring meal plan. The level of rebate will vary based on meal plan after reflecting contractual obligations to Sodexo, our valued campus dining partner. Dining dollar balances as of March 25 will be refunded. 
  • Parking: Student parking decal holders will receive $54.

The Bursar’s Office will credit the appropriate amounts to your student account. Working as swiftly as they can, they will apply eligible rebates no later than April 10.

Something I find quite moving: in recent days, so many students and families have asked how you can help peers in need. William & Mary is assisting members of our community during this difficult time, working with individuals on a case-by-case basis through the Dean of Students Office. If you choose, you may donate your rebate to the university for emergency relief funds for students. 

Please expect specific details about your rebate next week, from Amy Sebring, Vice President for Finance and Technology.  As we finalize this process we will continue to update our FAQS in response to questions you send us. Your questions are helping us immensely as we strive to be clear and responsive during this global crisis.


Katherine A. Rowe

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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


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 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 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

If you need for someone else to retrieve your critical items for you:
Email 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.


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.

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Letter of thanks to W&M students

March 16, 2020

Dear students,

As William & Mary comes together to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, we write as president, vice president and as members of the W&M community to express our gratitude. You and your families have been resourceful, understanding and patient partners with our faculty, staff and administrators. As we navigate this new territory together, that spirit of partnership will be essential. 

We are especially grateful for the partnership and shared purpose of Student Assembly President Kelsey Vita ’20 and the entire SA leadership team. The resilience and compassion of our student body inspire us each day. 

William & Mary offices closed to the public at noon today until at least March 23. This move was in accordance with the Governor’s directive to close executive-branch and state offices in the Peninsula Health District in a coordinated statewide effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Emergency Management Team will share additional details and guidance related to that action later today; please stay alert for that and please check our growing FAQ daily.

We remain committed to the four goals shared last week and will continue to support those students who are unable to leave campus.

Every institution has continuity plans with scenarios for epidemics, W&M included. Yet it is one thing to plan for hypotheticals and another to make decisions in real-time, under ambiguous circumstances, adjusting as new information arrives hourly. That is the territory we are in now, together. 

We have confidence in each of you and great trust. We will chart a thoughtful path forward – stronger in the future because of the dedication and creativity of our students, faculty and staff and because of the relationships that we forge in the coming weeks.

With gratitude,

Katherine A. Rowe, President
Ginger Ambler, Vice President for Student Affairs

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Update for Students from Vice President Ambler

March 16, 2020

Dear Students,

Below I share the additional details and guidance promised earlier today in the message you received from President Rowe and me related to directives from the Governor’s Office. As previously noted, we strongly advise all students to physically leave campus if they can. During the period of time where the university and its campuses are not open to the public, we will continue to provide essential services as best we can. 

Please keep the following in mind: 

All Students

Questions About COVID-19 Response. The best source for updated information regarding the university’s response to COVID-19 remains the online Q&A by the university at  

Additionally, if you have questions directly related to the impact of COVID-19 in the Williamsburg/Peninsula area, state and local health authorities have set up two Call Centers:

  • The Peninsula Health Department call center at 757-594-7069 
  • The Southside Health Department call center at 757-683-2745

Pass/Fail Expansion. As we prepare to change our instructional delivery modes starting next week, we are expanding the pass-fail option for Spring 2020. Degree-seeking academic juniors and seniors may elect Pass/Fail grading for up to two normally-graded courses; academic freshmen and sophomores may elect to take one normally-graded course on a Pass/Fail basis this semester. If you intend to select Pass/Fail, you must do so in Banner during the extended withdrawal period, which now ends on Monday March 30 at 11:59 pm. See the student FAQ section at for additional details. 

Room Selection. At this time room selection for returning students for the 2020-2021 Academic Year will proceed on schedule online, including Priority Housing. 

If you have direct questions for Residence Life, all communications have been sent to student W&M emails and shared via our Residence Life website. Please know that although the Residence Life office is closed to the general public they will still be responding to emails sent to However, please expect delays in responses due to high volume. 

Wellness Resources for You. Our Health & Wellness team is working to create a Virtual Wellness Center that includes a variety of wellness and fitness resources for students to access online. From exercise, personal training, and yoga videos to mindfulness and creative art, we will be offering a wide range of resources to help you manage the stress and emotions that are a part of this new challenge. For those who want to use this time to deepen their learning on various wellness areas, we will be providing educational resources on a wide range of topics, including managing cabin fever. Give us a couple more days to complete and compile our videos and then check in frequently on our main website,, or download our new W&M Wellness App! Simply browse our wellness departments' resource pages or our App and dive into something that speaks to you. For instance, this may be a great time to learn about our online training modules on mental health via SilverCloud  (

Students Away from Campus

Access to personal items. In accordance with the governor’s directive, access to residence halls for pick-up of personal items left over spring break is temporarily suspended while the campus and campus offices are closed to the public. Faculty will be flexible about academic materials (textbooks and the like) that you do not have access to. Barnes & Noble, through VitalSource, has made arrangements for students to have free access to eTextbooks. Here are two web resources that provide additional information:

Connecting remotely to campus IT resources. We are working to identify and support any students who might have equipment, connectivity or other assistance needs in accessing online instruction. Please contact the Dean of Students Office for assistance.  Additionally, if you do not have WiFi connectivity or access to the internet and currently have a cellular phone, you may want to contact your carrier to determine if your phone has the ability to serve as a mobile hotspot.  

IT has set up the web resource that may also be helpful,

Students Remaining on Campus Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Group Gatherings. We are asking residents who remain on campus due to extenuating circumstances not to gather in groups. Medical advice at this time is that interaction is limited to immediate circle groups only. In our residential setting, we interpret this as roommate/suitemate groups. Do not gather socially in larger groups in your residence halls, across campus or in locations in the community. Remaining on campus and utilizing university resources while practicing social distancing - remaining 6 to 8 feet from other individuals is preferred.

Building Access. Carry your keys and ID with you every time you leave the room. Residence Life staff will be unable to respond to lockout requests. You are responsible for locking your doors and carrying your keys. In an emergency situation, WMPD will help with a lockout, but we need this to be a last resort.

Building Hours. Please note new hours for the Post Office in Sadler and the Student Health Center:

  • The Post Office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and is accessible from the west door of the Sadler Center.
  • The Student Health Center remains open to students by appointment only. Students should call ahead to schedule an appointment.

Dining Services. Commons is set up as a to-go option only and no self-service.  Food is either pre-packaged or boxed by dining staff and is available 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tribe Market is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Chick-fil-A is to-go only, no indoor seating. 

Duty Office Hours. Duty Offices in Residence Halls will remain closed at this time. 

Emergencies. Emergencies need to be directed to the W&M Police at 757-221-4596.

Thank you for your patience and support as we move through these challenging days together.


Ginger Ambler

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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 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


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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