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COVID-19 Messages to Students

An archive of messages sent to William & Mary students about the university's plans and policies responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. View the 2020 message archive.

Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring

April 20, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

I write today with updates on student vaccinations and the CNU vaccination clinic, accommodating vaccination schedules and side effects, and student census testing. 

Student Vaccination Updates

  • As we near the end of the semester, we recognize that many students will be leaving the Williamsburg area for the summer.  
  • We are working with the vaccine clinic at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center to offer a student clinic the week of April 26.  
    • WATA has agreed to provide free transportation from the Sadler Center to the clinic site.
  • We anticipate having 500 dedicated doses of the Moderna vaccine for students who have not been vaccinated but wish to do so.  
  • If there is sufficient student interest, we will look to do a similar number the week of May 3.  
  • If you wish to receive notice of those clinics, please make sure that you have updated your information through Banner Self-Service so we can email you as we finalize vaccine availability over the next two weeks.
  • After that date, W&M will no longer be coordinating vaccination appointments, as they have become widely available to the general public.  

CNU Vaccination Clinic Information 

With the CNU vaccination clinic changing locations and management, we have heard some questions about scheduling a second dose for the COVID-19 vaccine if you received your first dose at that location. We offer some additional information:  

  • The Virginia Department of Health will contact you regarding the scheduling of your second dose. In addition, the card provided to some recipients at the CNU vaccination clinic explaining the change can be used at other vaccination locations to schedule a second dose. 
    • These communications will likely come a few days before you become eligible to receive your second dose. Please also keep in mind that the time frame to receive your second dose is within 42 days of the first. 
  • If you get to the 28th day after your first dose and have not heard from VDH, please contact [[HealthyTogether]]. We will work to get your second dose scheduled in the required time frame. 

Accommodating Vaccination: Please Remain Flexible

  • As we continue to work through vaccinating our community, I’m asking managers to remain flexible with your team members who may need to shift their schedules to accommodate vaccine appointments for themselves and loved ones.
  • In addition, the side effects of the vaccine vary widely, so if employees need to take time off following their vaccination, this can be done through regular sick days. If employees do not have sick time available, they can use Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL). 

Census Testing & On-Going Prevalence Testing

  • A reminder that W&M is currently conducting a round of student census testing for COVID-19. We anticipate results to begin returning this evening. 
  • We plan to continue prevalence testing for employees and students through at least the end of the semester:
    • To be exempted from census and prevalence testing, as well as from quarantine requirements as a close contact, please provide proof-of-vaccination to William & Mary. 
    • To do so, upload photos of the vaccination card you received when you were administered a COVID-19 vaccine. Kallaco Healthy & Technology has introduced the ability to upload proof in the Kallaco portal.
    • If you do not have a Kallaco account, create one by choosing “Forgot Password,” and do not use your W&M password.
    • Visit the Record section in Kallaco and follow the prompts to upload a photo of your vaccination card. You must complete this upload process for each vaccine dose on your card.

I remain hopeful that the steps we are taking toward higher vaccination and lower positivity rates create a path forward for us that more closely resembles normalcy. Thank you all for your continued efforts and dedication.  

Sincerely,

Amy Sebring 
Chief Operating Officer & COVID-19 Director

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Vaccine Update and Upcoming Census Testing

April 13, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

I write today with a time-sensitive update on vaccines as well as other COVID-19-related news.  

J&J VACCINES

This morning the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that the administration of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine be paused due to what the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) notes are “extremely rare” reports of a low number of recipients experiencing blood clots up to two weeks following injection.

Effective today, W&M has confirmed that all area clinics will switch to Moderna or Pfizer until the CDC has an opportunity to further review the J&J vaccine. The CDC, FDA and VDH continue to express a high level of confidence in the efficacy and safety of Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The review of the J&J vaccine reportedly has been triggered by six cases of adverse reactions out of the 6.8 million doses of J&J already administered nationwide.

The vast majority of W&M’s faculty, staff and students who have been vaccinated have received either Moderna or Pfizer. The Colonial Williamsburg clinic and the CNU clinic have been administering Moderna vaccines. Only those who were vaccinated yesterday through the York County partner clinic received J&J vaccines with W&M’s coordination. If you were among those, the CDC has issued advice on what to watch for in the next three weeks.

If you are scheduled for a vaccine today or later this week, there is no need to reschedule. Your appointment is secure, and the clinics have sufficient supply to provide you with a two-dose Moderna vaccination. 

  • If you receive your first dose this week, you will receive a card with your dose information. The card will indicate that you are eligible to receive your second dose four weeks from the date of your first dose, but that second dose can be administered up to six weeks beyond the first dose.  
  • For students who may have exams in mid-May or may be traveling home for the summer, you have some flexibility in getting your second shot. 
  • For Virginia residents, VDH has indicated that if you are not in the Williamsburg area at the time of your second dose, you will be able to present your vaccine card to other local area health districts in Virginia to schedule your second dose.
  • For out-of-state students, VDH is working with their state counterparts and federal partners, including major retail chains, to determine the best options for you to receive your second dose. You should also reach out to your home state health department for additional guidance if you anticipate not being in the local area at the time of your second dose.

VACCINE OPTIONS IN THE COMING WEEKS

With the Commonwealth increasing vaccine availability to all adults, we continue to work with our local clinics to connect as many of our faculty, staff and students who wish to be vaccinated with opportunities to do so. For students, we recognize that the spring semester is drawing rapidly to a close and that our time is short to assist you in getting vaccinated if you choose to do so. 

Here’s what we know:

  • Approximately 3,900 students have updated their personal information questionnaire (PIQ) in Banner. Of those, almost 75% of students reported that they’ve had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. We couldn’t be more pleased with the rate of vaccine acceptance among students.
  • Over half of our students have yet to respond. So, if you’ve not yet updated your personal information, please do so in Banner Self-Service.
    • Even if you are not interested in being vaccinated at this time, please update the PIQ so we are not using resources or reserving doses on your behalf.
  • This information is essential. The Commonwealth, W&M and local providers are working hard and quickly to provide student vaccine opportunities before the semester ends. 
  • We also know that transportation to clinic sites remains an issue for many of our students. We are working with the Colonial Williamsburg clinic to provide shuttle service for future clinics. We will provide more information as we finalize those plans.  

COVID-19 CENSUS TESTING

  • Tomorrow W&M begins another round of census testing for all students on campus and within 30 miles of the university.
  • Fully vaccinated students do not need to participate in either census or prevalence testing, and are exempted from quarantine requirements unless they are symptomatic.
  • W&M is using the CDC’s definition of “fully vaccinated,” which means that at least two weeks have elapsed since the final dose of either a one- or two-dose vaccination sequence. 
  • Additional details follow below, along with directions on providing proof-of-vaccination.

THINGS TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE BEEN FULLY VACCINATED 

  • As noted, W&M is following the CDC in defining who is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The day of the last dose is Day Zero; 14 days after that, you are considered fully vaccinated.
  • To be exempted from census and prevalence testing, as well as from quarantine requirements as a close contact, please provide proof-of-vaccination to William & Mary.
  • To do so, upload photos of the vaccination card you received when you were administered a COVID-19 vaccine. Kallaco Health & Technology has introduced the ability to upload proof-of-vaccination in the Kallaco portal.
    • If you do not have a Kallaco account, create one by choosing “Forgot Password” and do not use your W&M password. 
    • Visit the Record section in Kallaco and follow the prompts to upload a photo of your vaccination card. You must complete this upload process for each vaccine dose on your card.
  • While vaccination has ramped up in the Commonwealth the past few weeks, quite a number of our W&M community are not yet fully vaccinated. Consistent with CDC guidance, W&M continues to require fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks.  
    • Although we know vaccines are effective at protecting the individual who has been vaccinated from becoming severely ill, we do not yet know the extent to which individuals who have been vaccinated can spread the virus to those who have not yet received the vaccines.

In closing, I’d like to give a shout out to our students! We’ve seen a dramatic turnaround in our positive cases and in the number of students who are in quarantine as close contacts. The current numbers are reassuring and suggest that, as long as we remain diligent, we can meet our goal of having an in-person Commencement to celebrate the close of an unforgettable year.  

Sincerely,

Amy Sebring 
Chief Operating Officer & COVID-19 Director

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Update on Employee & Student Vaccinations

April 8, 2021

Good morning,

W&M continues to work with the two regional clinics when vaccines are available for major area employers and are hoping to expand more broadly to students. This email covers time-sensitive requests that will enable us to meet the vaccine needs of our community.

The headlines for you to know:

For Students: 

  • It is really important that students update their status in the Personal Information Questionnaire through Banner Self-Service as we continue to work with VDH and our local partners to identify opportunities to vaccinate all students who wish to be vaccinated before the end of the spring semester.
    • It is also critical that we know who has already been vaccinated so we can identify the number of vaccines needed to cover those who remain un-vaccinated.
  • The level of federal supply and its predictability remain the biggest hurdle, but we are hoping to begin scheduling students – potentially as soon as next week. We will update you as additional information becomes available.

For Employees: 

  • W&M has invited to one of the two clinic sites all faculty and staff who have indicated through Banner Self-Service that they would like to be vaccinated. 
  • If you have not yet been vaccinated and still wish to be, please make sure you have updated your information through Banner to reflect that so that we can extend you an invitation as vaccines become available.
  • If you have already been vaccinated or do not wish to be vaccinated at this time, it is also important that you update that information through Banner so we do not try to schedule you.

For Those Who Have Been Vaccinated:

  • Based on new CDC guidance, those who have been fully vaccinated will be exempted from W&M prevalence testing and quarantine requirements. To opt-out, upload to Kallaco your vaccination information, including an image of your vaccination card.  

Please read on for additional details about vaccination status in our community, how to get access and recent process changes for those already vaccinated.

Sincerely,
Amy Sebring
Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director 

Why Information About Your Vaccine Status is Important for W&M:

  • If you are seeking a vaccine, we may be able to help you find an appointment with one of the area clinics.
  • Based on new CDC guidance, those who have been fully vaccinated will be exempted from prevalence testing and quarantine requirements.
  • As more of our community gets vaccinated, we will make adjustments to our operations accordingly.

For now, here are our initial results as of Wednesday, April 7, from those surveys:

Initial Vaccine Survey Results:  Faculty & Staff

  • We have had 1,942 faculty and staff -- or approximately two-thirds of our employees -- update their status in Banner Self-Service. Of those who have responded:
    • 619 are fully vaccinated, 
    • 1,053 have had at least one shot,
    • 204 have not yet been vaccinated, but would like to be, and   
    • 66 have indicated that they do not wish to be vaccinated.
  • If you have not yet provided information through Banner Self-Service or if your status has changed, please add that information to the Personal Information tab.
    • W&M is approaching a shift away from obtaining vaccination appointments for faculty and staff. We aren’t quite at “last call,” but we aren’t far from it; please update your information so we can either work to get a slot for you or move on in our efforts to others who need it.
    • W&M is using the information only to allow us to advocate for vaccination slots, coordinate testing and quarantine exemptions and assess the level of vaccination in the W&M community in order to make plans for the fall semester.
  • These survey results are really important to helping us facilitate this process. To date, W&M has invited all faculty and staff who have indicated they would like to be vaccinated to one of the two clinic sites. While we know who we invite, we have no mechanism to know if they actually schedule the appointment or get vaccinated unless they report in Banner.   
    • We will also increasingly rely on these results to assess how many in our community have been vaccinated and the extent to which those numbers allow us to modify our operational practices.

Initial Vaccine Survey Results: Students

  • Response among students has been much lower, with only 1,783 -- less than 20% -- responding through the PIQ under Banner Self-Service. Of those who have responded:  
    • 384 are fully vaccinated, 
    • 1,007 have received one vaccine dose, 
    • 24 do not wish to be vaccinated, and
    • 368 would like to be vaccinated when there's an opportunity.
  • It is really important that students update their status in the PIQ as we continue to work with the Commonwealth to determine whether there are opportunities to vaccinate all students who wish to be vaccinated before the end of the spring semester.

The numbers are encouraging. We have also seen active cases drop and are continuing our robust testing protocols. We are six weeks away from Commencement weekend. I look forward to crossing the finish line Healthy Together!

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COVID-19 & Spring Break Update

April 2, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

As we head into what will be a holiday weekend for many, followed by two spring break days mid-week, we write to share information with you on the COVID-19 outlook on campus and new guidelines for faculty, staff and students who have been fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 Update & Outlook

  • W&M’s active COVID cases among students have declined slightly this week with 87 active cases as of this morning, down from a peak of 111 on Monday.
  • Active cases among W&M employees and affiliates have increased from four to nine.  
    • We sincerely appreciate the relentless work of the quarantine & isolation housing staff and others supporting our Health Logistics Squad.  
    • We also want to give a special shout-out to other faculty and staff who have volunteered to support meal delivery to our students in quarantine and isolation at Richmond Hall. Your help has provided needed reinforcement to a weary team!
  • The expanded testing of off-campus students who live within 30 miles of campus began this past Monday.
  • Chick-fil-A closed Tuesday after at least one employee tested positive for COVID-19. Originally planning to reopen with modified hours on April 5, Chick-fil-A will now remain closed through Sunday, April 11, to allow affected employees to isolate and quarantine. Normal hours will resume Monday, April 12.
  • Now that spring is here, the Historic Triangle is experiencing increased density in both indoor and outdoor public spaces. As a reminder, the Healthy Together Community Commitment extends past campus borders. We all affirmed that we would follow safe practices of masking, social distancing and hygiene to support “living, learning, gathering and working on campus and in the Williamsburg community.”

Spring Break Days and Next Round of Student Census Testing 

  • As we noted last week, W&M recommends that community members continue to refrain from high-risk activities, including traveling. If you must travel, please refer to the CDC guidelines, which may include quarantining when you return. If you are unable to quarantine, double-down on protecting yourself and others! Wear a mask, remain appropriately distant and practice good hand hygiene.
  • Of course, you need not travel! On Tuesday, April 6, enjoy over nine hours of fun wellness activities with “Wellness Your Way.” Options include boating on Lake Matoaka, running in a 5K, wandering in the wilderness, practicing yoga at sunset and black light dancing or cycling.
  • As a reminder to faculty, Spring Break days are to be respected as true respite days for students. It is absolutely critical that you do not schedule major exams, essays or other work the day after a scheduled break day.
  • The next round of census COVID-19 testing for all students within a 30-mile radius of campus will begin on Wednesday, April 14.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 or believe you are a close contact, you must visit ReportCOVID to work with a case manager on next steps and contact tracing. In addition to the service case managers provide for the person reporting, they are also vital in helping contain COVID-19 in the W&M community through rapid contact tracing and arranging isolation and quarantine.

Announcing Changes for Fully Vaccinated Faculty, Staff and Students

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider someone fully vaccinated two weeks after they have received their final dose of a one- or two-shot COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Consistent with the CDC’s guidelines for fully vaccinated people, William & Mary is exempting fully vaccinated faculty, staff and students from two requirements:
    • Participation in prevalence testing
    • Quarantine if identified as a close contact and asymptomatic
  • To be exempted, you must upload photos of the vaccination card you received when you received a COVID-19 vaccine. Kallaco Health & Technology has introduced the ability to upload proof-of-vaccination in the Kallaco portal
    • If you do not have a Kallaco account, create one by choosing “Forgot Password,” and do not use your W&M password.
    • Visit the Records section of the Kallaco portal and follow the prompts to upload a photo of your vaccination card. You must complete this upload process for each vaccine dose on your card.
    • Note that this is separate from the Banner Self-Service vaccine survey referenced in the next section.

Additional Vaccine Information

  • Good news on the vaccine front: Gov. Ralph Northam announced yesterday that COVID-19 vaccinations will be available to anyone 16 or older by April 18.
  • In addition, as William & Mary continues to facilitate vaccines for our employees as slots become available in area clinics, you should also fill out the vaccination questionnaire under the Personal Information tab in Banner Self-Service. This two-question survey allows William & Mary to identify those still needing to be vaccinated.  
  • Conversely, if you’ve already been vaccinated, please also fill out the questionnaire in Banner so W&M staff members aren’t trying to procure an appointment for you that they could be giving to someone who needs it!
  • Even if you have been fully vaccinated, you will be expected to continue practices that help protect others in the community. Please continue to wear a mask, practice physical distancing and good hand hygiene. It is still unclear whether vaccinated people can spread the virus, and people who are vaccinated bear responsibility to protect those who have not yet been given the opportunity. 

We hope this weekend and next week’s Spring Break days are restful and offer the opportunity to rejuvenate mid-semester.  

Be well,

Amy Sebring
COVID-19 Director and COO

Ginger Ambler
Vice President for Student Affairs

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Regarding Pass/Fail for Undergraduates

March 29, 2021

Dear students,

After considerable input and review, I am writing to affirm that William & Mary will not be expanding the undergraduate Pass/Fail policy this semester. I know that we have expanded the policy in the past two semesters due to exceptionally unusual circumstances and that some students hoped for a change this semester, even at this late point, but I want you to know ahead of today’s withdrawal deadline that our policy will not change this semester. I would also like to share the rationale for this decision.

The circumstances of the prior two semesters were highly unique. Spring 2020 was radically disrupted by the arrival of the pandemic and the sudden shift to fully remote learning; in that case, we made an extensive change to the P/F policy. During Fall 2020, the semester was significantly shortened and students and faculty were experiencing a full term of remote or partially remote learning for the first time; in that case, we made a less dramatic shift to the P/F policy to permit all undergraduates access to P/F for any two courses.

The current semester, however, was intentionally not shortened in order to reduce time pressure, and six wellness days were interspersed throughout the schedule to provide some ease. In addition, Spring 21 is our third (fourth, counting summer) semester with remote learning and many of the disruptions experienced during the first two semesters have been mitigated. I do understand that the persistence of the pandemic causes stress and strain, both in our general well-being and in the academic experience. Expanded academic, co-curricular and wellness support is available for you, and I urge you to seek out the resources you would find most helpful.

Please know that William & Mary cares very much about your well-being, and that we have given extensive consideration to the recent calls we have heard for expanding the P/F policy again this semester. Like many of our peer institutions across the state and country, we continue to believe that making another unusual change to existing grading policy would not be wise. The major concern from an academic perspective is that continued modification of our Pass/Fail policy is not in your best interest in the long-term – not only for overall knowledge acquisition of your current course material, but also for the necessary foundation of subsequent courses as well as for potential applications for graduate and professional schools.

Our faculty take their responsibility of mentoring students seriously, and so many have expressed concerns to me about continuing the P/F option since a decision made in the moment could have future long-standing negative consequences for your employment or with graduate admissions. 

If you need support this semester, please reach out – your faculty members, academic advisor, and staff in our support offices are among the many people who stand ready to assist. Here are some links that may be helpful:

Dean of Students Office 
Student Accessibility Services 
Office of Academic Advising 
Wellness Center  
Tribe Tutor Zone 

 

Sincerely,

 

Peggy Agouris
Provost
Addressing Increased COVID-19 Cases 

March 26, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

We have a number of updates for you today regarding the census testing currently underway, the planned response, mitigation measures for all of us to adopt and a forecast for the next few weeks.

Student Census COVID-19 Testing: Results

  • Today’s results confirmed continued increases in the number of students testing positive, with the final batch of results expected over the weekend.
  • We do not expect to exceed 2% in positivity rate, but the Public Health Advisory Team is also focused on the rate of increase, which can grow quickly. 
  • Data suggest that for every one person with COVID-19, two more become infected. 
  • In a close community, numbers can quickly swell, a situation we’ve witnessed on other campuses but very much need to avoid at William & Mary in order to prevent large-scale operational changes mid-semester.
  • The overwhelming majority (roughly 80%) of these cases are occurring in students who live off campus.

Public Health Response: Targeting COVID-19

  • Over the next few weeks, all students who live off campus but within 30 miles of the university will be tested twice. This will help detect COVID-19 in students who have been in close contact very recently and help W&M stop the spread.
  • Because the majority of COVID-19 cases involve students living off campus, the Public Health Advisory (PHAT) and COVID-19 Response (CRT) teams are not currently recommending additional restrictions on W&M’s in-person learning, dining, housing, university-sponsored events or activities, including athletics.
  • As noted in the university’s message yesterday, W&M continues to plan for a modified, in-person commencement contingent, of course, upon the COVID-19 conditions on campus and in the region at the time.

Your Role in Identifying COVID-19

  • We’ve had an increase in students who are reporting that they had symptoms of COVID-19 prior to receiving their positive tests results, but had mistakenly assumed that their symptoms were due to seasonal allergies.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms, we ask all students to check-in with the Student Health Center and employees to consult with their health care providers.
  • Additional undergraduate Spring Break days are scheduled for April 6-7. We continue to encourage students not to travel during the semester. If you must travel, you should plan to quarantine for five days upon your return. 
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact, you are required to visit ReportCOVID to be linked up with a case manager to help navigate quarantine or isolation, study, teaching and employment. This is mandatory for students under the Healthy Together Community Commitment; it is not optional.

Mitigation Measures: How to Help

  • For students living off campus, here are some ways you can actively reduce the spread of COVID-19:
    • Limit your social activities to those in your household. We have seen lower spread for students living on campus, in part because they are not visiting students in other dorms or on-campus housing.
    • If you must visit with others outside of your household, do so outside, physically distanced and with masks. Avoid situations where you are eating or drinking with others who are not in your pod.
    • Keep in-person social gatherings to a few close friends to limit the number of people who might be exposed should you become sick.

Forecast: Looking to the Future

  • Prior to the recent uptick in cases, CRT and PHAT had been working on a plan to reduce restrictions at William & Mary in alignment with the governor’s recent guidelines, beginning April 1. Because of the increased case counts this week, this is no longer the target date. All current protocols will remain in place until we see a significant and sustained decrease in positive cases.
  • We hope to allow Recognized Student Organizations greater freedom in meetings and activities in the coming weeks, if COVID-19 cases and the number of close contacts decrease sufficiently.
  • The ability of our graduating students to convene in person for Commencement also depends on the university’s public health position in the near-term.

This is a pivotal moment in the semester. The next two weeks will be critical in charting our course through April and May. Continue to wear your mask, wash your hands and resist the urge to gather closely or in large groups. We have the utmost confidence in the W&M community and our ability to respond compassionately and appropriately.   

Be well,

Amy Sebring
COVID-19 Director and COO
 
Ginger Ambler
Vice President for Student Affairs

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COVID-19 Census Testing Update

March 25, 2021

Dear W&M Community,

William & Mary is undergoing a round of census COVID-19 testing of all students living on campus and in the vicinity. With roughly a third of results received, the university has seen a significant uptick in positives within the student population. We continue to update the COVID-19 dashboard to reflect current results every weekday. We anticipate this number to grow as additional results are returned, which is why we are contacting you today.

The COVID-19 Response and Public Health Advisory teams are evaluating what, if any, operational adjustments need to be made to slow the rate of increase and help protect the health of students, faculty and staff members. More information will be forthcoming. Current data suggest that the increase in cases is attributable to off-campus activities associated with St. Patrick’s Day as mentioned in Tuesday’s message, with subsequent social interactions since that time. There is no evidence that in-person academic activities are involved.

As we noted earlier this week, now is not the time to let up. We need each member of the community to recommit to our Healthy Together guidelines so we can finish the semester strong. We must do all we can to take care of each other, and that includes following our guidelines on and off campus. We must reset to the actions that led to our success.

This week’s news and our response emphasize why W&M conducts weekly prevalence testing augmented with regular rounds of census testing; the university is actively seeking positive cases of COVID-19 in order to mitigate the effects of the ongoing pandemic. W&M’s case management and quarantine & isolation housing programs are robust and have adequate capacity to help ensure that affected students receive the healthcare they need and continue their studies remotely until they are able to resume in person. 

We ask every member of our community to be vigilant in your daily practices of masking, maintaining appropriate physical distance and washing your hands. A year into pandemic, we know how best to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Now is not the time to relax.

Be safe,

Ginger Ambler
Vice President for Student Affairs

Amy S. Sebring
COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring

March 23, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

We’ve come so far over the past year as a community, establishing shared norms and following guidelines that have allowed us to successfully advance our mission. That is why today I write with an important reminder about remaining vigilant in our commitment to each other. 

Over the last week we’ve seen a significant uptick in active student cases and close contacts. Many of those new cases are the direct result of off-campus social events around St. Patrick’s Day -- one of our designated spring break days. In addition to the rise in cases, we are seeing an alarming pattern of students not readily identifying close contacts, which is limiting our ability to provide a comprehensive public health response. As a reminder, part of our Healthy Together commitment is taking responsibility for our individual actions.

In addition, there is evidence that students are coordinating testing independently and may be testing too soon after a close contact to detect viral load, thus providing a false sense of security while the virus incubates. COVID-19 case managers, in coordination with the Student Health Center, can provide guidance around quarantine and testing timelines to make sure that we are identifying positive cases and limiting campus spread.

We have done so well over the past year and now is not the time to let up!  

Even with More Vaccines, It’s Not Yet Over

The recent increase in cases mirrors what we’ve seen at other campuses and in vacation destinations as we’ve grown weary of public health protocols.

  • As members of the community begin to be vaccinated, the changing patterns of behavior also reflect that individually we are at different stages in this pandemic. And yet the CDC guidance remains crystal clear on its COVID-19 homepage: “Keep it up!” Even if you are fully vaccinated, there are important caveats to keep in mind:
    • You can still get infected. The vaccines prevent serious illness and hospitalization, but they do not ensure you won’t get COVID-19.
    • You may be a carrier to others. Even if you don’t get sick, science has not yet determined whether you have the ability to transmit the virus to others.

Census Testing: Next Round to Inform April Actions

Fortunately, we had already planned to begin another round of census testing for students this week.  We expect to have most results by the end of the week.

  • Following guidance from the Public Health Advisory Team, William & Mary will analyze the results from this round of census testing and use it to inform our plans as we move into April.
  • I recognize that we are all ready to get back to a more normal way of living, but public health must remain at the forefront of these decisions as we study, learn and work together. 

Vaccine Eligibility: Update on Phase Classifications

We’ve received a number of inquiries on student vaccinations and vaccine classification.

  • On-campus housing does not qualify students under the 1B vaccination schedule. Although the CDC has provided guidance around health precautions for those living in congregate settings, including dormitories, the Virginia Department of Health does not consider people living in residence halls as eligible for Phase 1B. VDH includes correctional facilities, homeless shelters and migrant labor camps to be part of 1B, not students living in residence halls.
  • This means that if you are a student who wishes to sign up for a vaccine, you should not indicate that you are in phase 1B unless you have an underlying health condition that makes you eligible, or meet any of the other 1B designations.
  • If you have not yet been vaccinated, William & Mary continues working with our regional clinics as vaccines are identified for major employers in the area. Those clinics are also continuing to pull directly from the VDH pre-registration list to offer vaccines based on eligibility criteria.
  • We are also continuing to discuss the needs for student vaccines with state leaders in health and education.
  • If you are invited by W&M, the Commonwealth or a clinic to a vaccination appointment based on your eligibility, it is critical that you do not extend the invitation to others. Sharing the link can create vaccine shortages at the clinic and affect the university’s ability to extend vaccination appointments to others in the W&M community.

Voluntary Vaccine Portal Update 

We are asking faculty, students and staff voluntarily to provide information on their vaccine status.

  • For faculty and staff, after receiving some initial reports last week that the webpage was not loading, we have fixed the issue so that everyone should now be able to enter their information. Please respond by updating your personal information in Banner Self-Service.
  • Your responses will assist W&M in helping as many members of our community who wish to get vaccinated do so as quickly as possible.
  • In addition, updating your status once you have been vaccinated will allow the Public Health Advisory Team to aggregate the data and evaluate the level of vaccination in the W&M community as we make plans for the fall. 
  • For students, W&M has added a vaccine status question in the personal info questionnaire, identical to the question added for faculty and staff. Students can voluntarily update W&M on their vaccine status and their desire to be vaccinated.
  • If we are able to gather reliable data, we would like to provide vaccination-rate data on the COVID-19 dashboard. The survey helps us present accurately.

Public Health Advisory Team Update on Variants 

  • The Public Health Advisory Team’s weekly Epi Update, by W&M epidemiologists Carrie Dolan and Iyabo Obasanjo, discusses COVID-19 variants. The upshot: variants do not make people more sick, but they are more easily transmitted. Rising variant cases are one reason we continue to require masking and social distancing when we are together.  

Thank you for remaining committed to staying healthy together.

Sincerely,

Amy S. Sebring
COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Important Information on W&M Summer 2021 and a Preview of Fall

March 18, 2021

 Dear W&M Community,

 We know that our students, faculty and staff are beginning to plan for the summer – and that students are registering for summer and fall classes. With both planning needs in mind, this email includes details about the summer and a brief preview of the fall. As we look to summer, given the current public health landscape, we find ourselves still faced with having to maintain COVID-19 protocols as long as many of our community members remain un-vaccinated and we have students living on campus. So, with that, we have determined that our summer academic offerings will be largely remote with very limited on-campus housing.

 Why Summer 2021 Continues to Be Different

For over a year, W&M staff have worked tirelessly to create and support an environment responsive to the public health demands of a pandemic. More than 100 employees across Student Affairs, University Operations, W&M Athletics, University Advancement and Strategic Initiatives have supported case management, quarantine & isolation, testing and vaccine coordination. Many have routinely worked six or seven days a week, with virtually no scheduled time off during that period. Even during the winter break, while most at W&M were rejuvenating, we had a core team that continued to work every day. Their dedication has been nothing short of remarkable, but it has come at a cost. We recognize that those staff need a break and time to focus on the 2021-2022 academic year that we intend to be fully in person if the public health conditions allow.

 Also, we were unable to address routine cleaning and deferred maintenance in our buildings during Summer 2020, so we will use the summer months to refresh our facilities to be fully open in the fall.

Summer Academic Offerings

Courses will be fully remote with the exception of a small number of in-person graduate and professional programs that do not require on-campus housing. Summer registration for undergraduates opens at 8 a.m. on Monday, March 22, with registration for graduate programs being staggered through March and April. For more information, visit Summer 2021 Registration.

A robust summer has been programmed, including expanded academic offerings and jumpstart programs. In addition to the traditional two 5-week sessions, the university has added a 10-week option as well as non-standard “short courses.” For the first time, W&M is offering both COLL 100 and COLL 150 courses that allow freshmen who started in spring to complete their first-year courses and begin as sophomores in the fall. Additionally, financial aid packages, including Pell Grants, have been amended to provide for summer programs.

Finally, the Jump-Start Data Science Summer Program will again be offered, and joined by the exciting new Esports Level Up program.

No Student Housing & Dining Services

On-campus housing will not be available for students this summer. Residence Life will be in touch with Tribe Square residents to accommodate their summer housing needs. Consistent with our standard fall move-in, we are working with a number of university units, including the Reves Center and Athletics, on fall pre-arrival requirements for groups of students who need to be on campus prior to standard move-in dates in late August. Consistent with the general reset of activities in advance of the fall, Dining Services will not operate this summer at William & Mary.

Undergraduate Summer Research

Undergraduate summer research opportunities will be structured primarily around remote initiatives, as on-campus summer housing will not be available. Limited undergraduate student research opportunities on campus may be available for students who live locally or plan to live off campus. Coordination of these activities may be arranged with advisors and faculty mentors in departments or programs. Other opportunities for off-campus residents may be available through the Charles Center.

Other Summer Activities 

At this point, we remain focused on maintaining campus operations for W&M students, faculty and staff. We will not offer summer camps or other summer conferences and events typically offered prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are looking at the potential to open some non-residential facilities to the general public later in the summer as public health conditions allow. We will continue to update the community in the coming weeks. 

Summer Work Expectations for Faculty and Staff

Over the next several weeks, the President’s Cabinet will be discussing the university’s needs as we move toward a fall semester anticipated to be largely in person. We recognize that many employees will need to begin shifting from working primarily in a remote or blended manner so that they are prepared for the start of the fall semester. We will provide additional guidance for managers and supervisors later this spring.

COVID-19 Protocols for Summer

At this time, we anticipate that we will continue requiring face masks and physical distancing, along with other precautions intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19. With guidance from the Public Health Advisory Team, we will update guidelines as we get more information from the CDC and VDH about mitigation strategies and the status of vaccinations. In addition, given that most of our summer activities will be remote, we will provide limited prevalence testing for those remaining on campus and case management for positive cases. We will not offer quarantine and isolation housing; those staff members will have the summer to focus on preparing for the fall.

Fall Preview

We currently expect that improved public health conditions will allow W&M to resume in-person operations in the fall, with appropriate public health protocols. We will be communicating more details about how we anticipate returning to campus in the next few weeks.  

Sincerely,

Peggy Agouris, Provost
Ginger Ambler, Vice President for Student Affairs
Amy Sebring, Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director

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Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring

March 16, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

Here are this week’s updates as they relate to testing, mask compliance, outdoor activities, study space and vaccine information: 

COVID-19 Testing & Masking: Remain Diligent

  • We continue to experience low positivity rates for COVID-19 at W&M. Your hard work and commitment to keeping this community healthy are paying off.
  • While these COVID-19 rates have remained low, we are seeing early reports of reductions in mask-wearing across campus. Remember it is a part of the Healthy Together Community Commitment to wear a mask: 
    • In all indoor spaces (unless in your own room) 
    • Outdoors (unless an uninterrupted 6-foot distance can be maintained between you and others for the continuous duration of an activity), and 
    • In vehicles when traveling with other people. 
  • The advice from our Public Health Advisory Team is unchanged: mask-wearing remains the single most important measure for reducing transmission of COVID-19.
  • Unfortunately, we have seen a recent surge in cases at some nearby campuses in Virginia and in neighboring states. It is important that we remain diligent in our efforts to limit spread at W&M.

Outside Gatherings: Increased Opportunities to Be Together

  • I have heard from several sources, including survey responses from students and families, about a desire for even more opportunities to socialize safely. With the weather gradually turning warmer, we should all be looking for opportunities to do more outside.
    • Consistent with the governor’s recent guidance on outdoor sporting events, W&M will be hosting three home football games over the next several weeks. We have appropriate protocols in place that allow a limited number of students and other W&M guests to attend the games in Zable Stadium. Attendees are expected to socially distance and follow all other COVID-19 safety precautions, so this can be a great opportunity for members of the community to support our student-athletes. For more information, visit W&M Football.
    • Though indoor and outdoor social gatherings at W&M will continue to be limited to 10 people, university-sponsored or university-approved outdoor events can now extend to 25 people, per the Commonwealth of Virginia. 
    • With improving weather, we should all head outside for some fresh air, remembering to maintain appropriate distances and wearing masks to the extent possible.

Open Study Spaces: ISC Reopening After Hours

  • I’ve heard from a number of students since we closed access to ISC after hours. Clearly, ISC is a popular location for studying, and the loss of that space placed greater demand on other study spaces. Fortunately, we did not see an uptick in eating in other study spaces, so we have decided to re-open ISC with card access after-hours effective Thursday, March 18. 
  • Please note that students are still not permitted to eat in any classroom building. If eating in ISC becomes a problem again, we will close after-hours access to the building for the remainder of the semester. I ask that everyone refrain from eating in study spaces so that we are able to keep ISC open.

W&M Dining Services: Expanded Hours and Options

  • At the request of a number of students, we are expanding dining services.
  • As of March 28, W&M Dining Services is extending hours for the remainder of the semester at several locations: 
    • Dinner at Commons (The Caf) will be extended from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday – Thursday.
    • Sadler Express will open two hours early on Sundays at 3 p.m. Made-to-order pasta dishes and the Simply to Go grab-and-go items will be available for a meal swipe.
    • Late Night at Sadler will return during finals from 9 p.m. to midnight, May 9– 13, May 16 and May 17.
  • Additionally, the Simply to Go offerings in the Tribe Market and Student Xchange have been expanded to provide students with a grab-and-go meal swipe option until 10 p.m. FoodTruck Fridays, currently located at Lemon and Hardy halls, will continue with special menus created by the W&M Catering team and are available for a meal swipe. Follow @wmdining on Facebook and Instagram for the latest menu and special event information. Faculty and staff are welcome to sign up to the monthly dining email that students receive.

Census Testing: Next Round to Inform April Actions

  • We continue to receive requests for additional work activities or social gatherings. I know we are all anxious to get back to many of the activities we enjoyed prior to the pandemic and to start some new traditions.  
  • As tempting as it is to drop our guard, we don’t have to look far to see surging cases on campuses or in areas that have become less diligent. 
  • The Public Health Advisory Team (PHAT) has recommended we stay the course. We will re-evaluate additional changes after W&M completes its next round of student census testing, beginning March 22. Results from that round of testing will help inform our plans as we move into April.

Vaccine Update: Helping Speed Inoculation in Our Community

  • In addition to our ongoing work with the Williamsburg-James City County vaccine clinic, we are now also working with the clinic administration at Christopher Newport University. Close to 100 W&M employees received vaccines there on Friday and we hope to be able to invite more faculty and staff in the coming weeks.
    • If you are contacted via W&M Healthy Together to schedule a vaccination appointment through W&M, you must not forward the email or scheduling link. W&M is given specific slots for faculty and staff members on lists submitted in advance.  
    • Last week, we were informed that some at W&M forwarded their vaccine link to others. This action jeopardizes our clinic partnerships and our compliance with VDH phasing guidelines. Most importantly, it jeopardizes our ability to ensure that our most vulnerable faculty and staff members are vaccinated as soon as possible.
  • Faculty and staff also received an email from W&M Healthy Together last week with instructions to voluntarily update W&M on their vaccine status and their desire to be vaccinated. We heard from a number of you, but ask that if you intend to respond but have not, please do so by updating your personal information in Banner Self Service.  
  • While it is not mandatory to report, your responses will assist W&M in helping as many members of our community who wish to get vaccinated do so as quickly as possible. In addition, updating your status once you have been vaccinated will contribute to the PHAT’s assessment of the virus in the W&M community and enable informed decision-making as we make plans for the fall.
  • We will launch a similar tool for students next week.

Thank you all for your continued support and commitment to keeping one another healthy.

Stay well,
Amy S. Sebring
COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring

March 9, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community, 

Here are this week’s updates as they relate to the COVID-19 vaccine, testing and other efforts going on at William & Mary. 

Survey from PHAT

  • W&M’s Public Health Advisory Team (PHAT) has asked IT to add a voluntary survey to the personal information tool in Banner Self-Service, asking all members of the W&M community to let us know about their vaccination plans. This feature will remain accessible so you can make status updates as you receive your vaccination(s). While it is not mandatory to report this information, your responses will assist W&M in helping as many members of our community who wish to get vaccinated do so as quickly as possible. Keep your eye out for an email from our Healthy Together team announcing the launch.

Vaccine Update

  • We can report great progress regarding vaccination opportunities for members of our community. Last week alone, we assisted over 500 people with getting their COVID-19 vaccination! 
  • The COVID-19 Response Team and PHAT continue to work with the Williamsburg-James City County clinic to provide vaccines to our 1B employees.  In the coming weeks, we may be able to partner with other clinics in the region to expand opportunities for vaccines to additional faculty and staff.  
  • We also know that some in our community are being directly contacted by VDH and their local health districts. The local clinics continue to work with W&M as one of the region’s major employers. VDH and the Peninsula Health District notify those clinics when vaccines can be allocated for W&M. We will continue providing information for employees who qualify in each phase, but as vaccine supply improves, it is increasingly likely that you will be contacted directly by VDH.  
  • I recognize that the uneven rollout of the vaccine has been confusing and frustrating. I want to reiterate that the vaccine landscape is ever-changing. W&M is working in every way possible to make sure that we are providing our community with the latest information, and we appreciate your patience and understanding as we do so. 
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued new guidance for individuals who have been fully vaccinated. All of William & Mary’s COVID-19 policies remain in effect; we do not yet have enough of a critical mass of fully vaccinated students, faculty or staff to adjust our operations.
  • If you are interested in getting vaccinated and are contacted by either W&M or VDH, please respond. The state database will be updated as you are vaccinated and your updates in Banner Self-Service will ensure that we are updated as well.  
  • If you are contacted and wish to be vaccinated, please schedule your appointment.  The faster we get the community vaccinated, the better!

Census Results & Testing

  • We continue to see great results in our prevalence and wastewater testing. Last week, we tested over 1,000 students and employees distributed across three different labs. We’ve received all but about two dozen test results and have had NO new positives reported. The results are truly astounding.
  • Likewise, we continue to see levels of the virus drop in our wastewater testing, providing additional reassurance in the trends.
  • This low positivity rate is entirely due to your commitment to following health and safety precautions.

It is not lost on me that the reason William & Mary is able to remain open throughout the pandemic is directly linked to our community’s ability to remain compassionate and caring. The Healthy Together Community Commitment is a reflection that we have a shared responsibility to one another. Time and time again, we have come together to prove that we are a resilient, and now even stronger, W&M community. 

Sincerely,
Amy S. Sebring
COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Updates and Highlights from COO Amy Sebring

March 4, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

This week we close in on a full year of living with the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., an anniversary that is prompting reflection and grief on top of “pandemic fatigue.” We’ve learned so much in the past year, but experts rightly remind us that knowledge alone won’t protect anyone unless it translates into the right actions. At William & Mary, that means steadfastly maintaining our Healthy Together Community Commitment (HTCC). Relying on the good habits and norms we’ve established over the past year is what will get us through.

Reminders

  • Visit ReportCOVID if you have COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive or are a close contact. For students especially, it’s critical that W&M helps coordinate your isolation or quarantine, and identify others who might have been in close contact. It is the job of W&M case managers and medical staff to coordinate these efforts; don’t feel it’s necessary or appropriate to take it on yourself. 
  • Do not eat or drink in classrooms during the day or after hours. Water bottles are OK. See the next point for an important update on ISC.
  • If you witness HTCC violations or unsafe behavior, we encourage you — whether student, faculty or staff member — to address it promptly. Reinforce the HTCC expectations in a manner that doesn’t shame the individual, but underscores our collective responsibility to one another. Last fall, the COVID-19 Response Team released a video that offers useful tips on having these conversations; find How Courage Keeps Us Healthy Together on W&M’s YouTube channel. 

ISC Closed for After-Hours Study

Unfortunately, we have fielded too many complaints about eating in the Integrated Science Center, so beginning today, W&M is closing the ISC to after-hours study access. Scheduled classes will continue, but students will no longer be able to swipe in to study in open classrooms at night. We will continue to evaluate the use of the other classrooms as needed. With temperatures improving, eating outdoors will become much more appealing over the next few weeks.

Vaccine Update

Increasingly, the local COVID-19 vaccine clinic is relying on the statewide registration system, rather than employers such as William & Mary, to coordinate booking. W&M remains engaged with the clinic administration and continues to help coordinate vaccination opportunities for our 1B faculty and staff members when there are “extra slots” or unanticipated increases in vaccine supply. In addition to appointments scheduled directly by VDH, W&M was able to help coordinate about 650 unanticipated first-dose appointments for employees meeting work or age requirements for Phase 1B. In order to ensure that you are notified as soon as possible, please register with Vaccinate Virginia if you wish to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

If you are contacted by the Virginia Department of Health or W&M about a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, we encourage you to get vaccinated. Please do not forward the appointment emails or texts to others; their appointments will be canceled and their attempts to register interfere with the commonwealth’s vaccination cadence.

Census Results & Testing

Some great news this week: After the weather-related shipping delays, we received results from the on-campus student census testing conducted last week. Of 5,998 tests, only 13 returned positive. All but four of those cases were already known – in the case management system as symptomatic or close contacts.

Due to the shipping delays, the Public Health Advisory Team (PHAT) is confirming the low student infection rate this week through a heavier-than-normal round of prevalence testing, which is in progress. We are also piloting a new system for testing that uses student mailboxes and a drop-site for saliva tests. So far, that is proving successful and convenient for students.

Governor’s Orders

As you may have noted, last week Gov. Ralph Northam loosened some restrictions in Virginia. The Public Health Advisory Team is considering how William & Mary should appropriately respond, as the Virginia Department of Health continues to signal concern about the potential of community spread on college campuses.

Through March, PHAT has advised that we not ease restrictions at W&M. The factors guiding our epidemiologists’ thinking are explained further in their weekly Epi Update: Local COVID-19 rates always lag behind state rates, which trail national rates, so they want to ensure that local and W&M-specific rates of infection remain low enough over time that they are unlikely to reverse. PHAT will continue to evaluate throughout the month and is considering some changes for April.

It has been a challenging year. We are so proud of the work and commitment shown by all of our students, faculty and staff members, affirming William & Mary as an incredibly caring community in which to study and work.

Sincerely,

Amy S. Sebring

COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer 

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Updates and Highlights from COO Amy Sebring

Feb. 23, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

I’m happy to report that this week I am light on updates. That said, I do have a few items related to vaccinations and masking that I’d like to share.

Vaccination Information 

  • Virginia has launched a statewide registration system for COVID-19 vaccinations. All faculty, staff and students interested in receiving the vaccine should register in the state system. If you have registered previously with the local health district and/or if William & Mary has previously included you in its list of Phase 1A or Phase 1B employees, the website allows you to check if you are already in the database and if not, to register. 
  • Please check your registration status even if you have already received your first dose. W&M continues to work with vaccine clinic administration at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center on vaccine coordination. As vaccines become available at more locations, however, it will be beneficial to be registered in the statewide database, so please be sure to register yourself and any loved ones in order to be in the system as soon as possible. 

Federal Mask Study

  • W&M is participating in the CDC’s Mask Adherence Observation Study. Student volunteers are working with principal investigator Dr. Carrie Dolan, W&M epidemiologist and director of Ignite Global Health, to collect 400 observations per week on campus mask use and compliance. The first week of results is impressive, with 97% of our campus community wearing masks at the observation sites. For more information on this study and COVID-19 cases, please see the weekly public health online update

Reminder: No Food or Drink in Classrooms

  • As a reminder, food and drinks are not permitted in classrooms or academic buildings. Last week, we heard reports of students eating after-hours in those spaces. If we continue to see evidence of food and drink in those areas, we will reassess whether those spaces should remain available for studying and small group work during evenings and weekends.

Special Thanks

A shout out this week goes to the folks in Athletics who have been transporting COVID-19 tests for people in quarantine to VCU Health in Richmond. With the country-wide weather conditions shutting down central hubs for shipping, our general census testing capabilities slowed, but the people in Athletics have been going the extra mile (literally) to make sure those in quarantine are receiving their test results.

Sincerely,

Amy S. Sebring

COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Updates and Highlights from COO Amy Sebring

February 16, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

We knew this semester would be different. So, today, I write in that context of what’s different as we look at COVID-19 cases in the W&M community and new trends in close contacts. I also provide a brief update on vaccines and a new statewide registration process.

What’s different with COVID-19 Cases this semester?

We started in a different position. We opened the semester amidst record-high COVID-19 cases in the region, state and nation. Through pre-arrival testing, we identified students and employees who were positive prior to returning to campus. As expected in both cases, the number of pre-arrival positives is higher than what we experienced in the fall.

For those who returned to campus, we have also seen a higher number of positive cases. As of this morning, we have had a total of 100. That’s 100 students who have tested positive for COVID-19 since we began tracking in early January. Likewise, we’ve had 11 total campus employee positives over the same time period. Fortunately, the number of active positives -- those who tested positive in the last 10 days and remain in isolation -- is much lower: 28 active student positives and two active employee positives. The numbers are trending in the right direction, as noted in the Public Health Advisory Team’s online update.

Although the trend is encouraging, the next few weeks are critical to putting us on a path to success again this spring. In the fall, we started with low positivity rates and maintained them. This semester, our numbers began higher. If we are diligent, we expect that we will once again be able to keep transmission low. If we relax too soon, we face a semester that will be much more challenging.

What’s different about close contacts?

The student cases we’ve seen this spring have more close contacts and close contacts are more often testing positive. In the fall, students that were quarantined as close contacts often did not catch the virus.

This semester, we are seeing a higher number of close contacts test positive after the incubation period. So today I want to focus on what it means to be a close contact and what the potential implications are for a close contact who later tests positive for COVID-19.

  • What is a close contact?  The CDC defines a close contact as someone who was “within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period.” Close contacts are those who come in contact within two days prior to someone testing positive or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  • What happens if I am a close contact? If you are a close contact, you must quarantine for 10 days. If you live on campus, you will quarantine at Richmond Hall or the Woodlands (local hotel).
  • What if I feel okay during my quarantine? If you are asymptomatic, you will be tested after seven days, and if you do not develop symptoms you can return to normal activities after 10 days. 
  • What if I test positive while in quarantine? If you test positive at Day 7, the clock starts over for isolation. You will be required to isolate for a minimum of 10 days and can only return to normal activity if you are not experiencing any symptoms at the end of those 10 days. So, even if you are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, that means that you will be restricted from your normal activities for a total of 17 days. Of course, if you get sick, it may take you considerably longer before you feel well.

I provide this timeline not as a scare tactic, but for information. One of the attributes that makes W&M a special place to learn, live and work is the care that we have for those in the community.  None of us wants to be the one that puts our friends and colleagues in a position that requires them to be out of circulation for 17 days. As we each make decisions in our daily activities, we should be asking ourselves, “Is this activity important enough that I’m willing to potentially be sidelined for 17 days in quarantine and isolation? Is this activity important enough that I’m willing to be responsible for someone else having to do the same?” 

These are tough questions. But there are good answers:

  • When you’re in person, commit to limiting your close contacts to no more than two, three or four people routinely -- that means that you should eat, socialize and study with the same small group of people whenever possible. When you are together, continue to wear a mask (see updated recommendations from the CDC), maintain appropriate distance and wash your hands.
  • Look for opportunities to engage more broadly with friends and colleagues through virtual events, gatherings and exchanges. Remaining connected to the community is important and doing so in ways that reduce close contacts will accelerate our opportunities to be together in person as a community again.

Vaccines

Late last week, the Commonwealth of Virginia announced that it would be launching a statewide registration system that would bring together information previously held by each health district. If you have already registered with the Peninsula Health District or other local health district, you do not need to register again. If you have not yet registered and would like to be vaccinated, please visit the VDH COVID-19 vaccine page this week as the registration system is launched. W&M continues to work with vaccine clinic administration at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors Center to notify them of employees that meet the criteria for Phase 1B. As vaccines become available at more locations, however, it may be beneficial to be registered in the statewide database.

Special Thanks

I’d like to give a shout out to the facilities maintenance staff in groundskeeping, building services, and operations and maintenance that have worked for the last two weekends to remove snow and ice from campus. They, along with the W&M Police Department and those in emergency management, are dedicated to providing a safe environment for W&M students, faculty and staff no matter what the weather!

Financial Update on the Horizon

My last few updates -- including today’s -- have focused on COVID-19 in an effort to provide information in a timely manner as conditions continue to evolve. In the coming weeks, I will also provide a financial update to campus now that we are well past the halfway mark of the fiscal year and are beginning to develop projections for FY22 in light of ongoing discussions with the Board of Visitors and pending actions by the General Assembly.

Sincerely,

Amy S. Sebring

COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Updates and Highlights from COO Amy Sebring

February 9, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

Here are the important pieces of information to know as they relate to COVID-19 and university operations:

Vaccines:  In response to Gov. Northam’s guidance that vaccine distribution should be allocated 50% to individuals qualifying under Phase 1B due to work responsibilities and 50% to individuals qualifying based on age, the local vaccine clinic administration asked William & Mary to add contact information for our employees who are over 65. In addition, the clinic administration expanded the definition of essential workers. As supply becomes available, the COVID-19 Response Team is working across all areas of campus to update that information to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

If you meet the expanded criteria, the university will ask you to provide a personal phone number to ensure we can reach you quickly.  Although you are not required to provide a personal phone number, doing so will help to speed up the process of vaccinating our community, as vaccines may become available on short notice and you may be asked to sign up within a couple hours of the vaccination time.

As a reminder, if you believe that you are eligible for a vaccine under Phase 1B due to an underlying medical condition rather than work requirements or age, please go to your local health department’s website to register and consult with your healthcare provider. You may also want to consider registering with your pharmacy, as major chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart expect to begin vaccinating customers in the coming weeks.  

Regardless of where you get vaccinated, you will not be charged for the vaccine.  Some locations may charge a fee to administer the vaccine, so you may want to check before you arrive. If you are vaccinated at the local clinic at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitors’ Center, there is no charge.   

As we continue to push through the vaccination process, inevitably members of our community will get vaccinated at different times and from different locations. Although the lack of a clear process is frustrating, I want to reiterate that anyone being vaccinated has a positive impact on the rest of the community.   

In addition, I want to remind those who have been vaccinated that W&M expects you will continue to uphold the Healthy Together Community Commitment. The vaccine protects the individual vaccinated, but the science is not yet clear on the level of protection it provides to others in close contact. Those vaccinated may still be carriers of the virus with the potential to infect others. So, continue wearing your mask, maintaining distance, washing your hands and engaging remotely with friends, family and colleagues when you are able.

Focusing on Science and Data: Over the past week, we have seen concerns circulating regarding possible outbreaks at different locations on campus. Throughout the pandemic, we have learned several key pieces of information, and one of these is that reliance on data and science will get us through this. The Public Health Advisory Team reviews daily -- often multiple times a day -- data from COVID-19 testing, ReportCOVID.wm.edu, case management reports and local, regional and national COVID-19 data. They use these data to look for patterns of transmission or other indicators that inform W&M’s operational decisions. 

Although it is tempting to focus on fear and rumors, we continue to provide daily updates through the the COVID-19 Dashboard, which provides a high-level snapshot of key data points. In an effort to increase community awareness, the Public Health Advisory Team will begin providing periodic updates on its approach and process to assess the trends we are seeing. I will provide that information as part of my regular updates and we will post them online.

Even with that information, it is critical that each of us does our part. We rely on the community to make sure that we have up-to-date information. If you test positive whether through a test administered on campus or in the community, or are identified as a close contact, it is critical that you complete ReportCOVID.wm.edu. If you are concerned or have questions about others’ behaviors or activities, please fill out the COVID-19 Concerns form

Healthy Together Community Commitment: Another reminder that all employees – faculty and staff – must reaffirm the HTCC through Cornerstone Learning no later than this Wednesday, February 10. Students have already completed that affirmation. For those of you working with vendors on campus, please reinforce the HTCC principles and the expectation that they adhere to our protocols at all times on campus. Sanctions for violating Healthy Together Community Commitments are being taken seriously and are enforced quickly. 

Limited Return to Indoor Dining: With in-person classes resuming this week, we will also be providing limited indoor dining options to facilitate students grabbing meals before and after classes. Indoor dining will be limited to two people per table and all diners are encouraged to meet with roommates or others with whom they are already in close contact. Outdoor dining -- again with limited two per table gatherings -- or to-go dining in your residence or office remains the preferred option from a public health standpoint. If you do choose to eat indoors, please make sure that you continue to wear your mask when you are not actively eating and drinking, and that you limit your time in the dining spaces to the extent possible. For more information about dining locations and operations, visit the William & Mary Dining webpage

COVID-19 Testing:  We resumed prevalence testing for students and employees the week of January 18. We will conduct full census testing of the student population living within 30 miles of campus beginning Thursday, February 11, with the bulk of the testing occurring the week of February 15. Students should look for additional information later this week. In addition, we will continue offering free at-will testing for W&M employees via VCU Health clinic at 332 N. Henry Street. Please go to the at-will testing portal to schedule an appointment if you’re interested. 

In closing, I continue to marvel at the small wins that we are accomplishing together every day.  So with that, I provide a quick shout-out to all of the staff who continue to support the COVID-19 Response Team’s Health Logistics squad, including those involved in testing logistics, vaccination rollout, wastewater testing, case management and quarantine and isolation housing. As a group, these individuals are working seven days a week, along with the Public Health Advisory Team, to monitor and adjust with a singular goal of continuing to be healthy together. 

Sincerely,

Amy S. Sebring

COVID-19 Director and Chief Operating Officer

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Public Health Requirements and W&M Sanctions

February 5, 2021

Dear Students,

If you have been watching William & Mary’s COVID-19 dashboard, you know that we are seeing more W&M students testing positive now when compared to our enviably low numbers at the start of the fall semester. While numbers remain low overall compared to the surge nationally, this pattern remains very concerning as we don’t yet have all of our undergraduate students back in residence. Sophomores and juniors return this weekend. 

Thus I write to be sure you keep the following imperatives top of mind, so that we can remain healthy together. It is critical that each of us: 

  • as individuals, do everything possible to follow CDC, Virginia’s Department of Health, and W&M guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. 
  • as members of a wider community, do everything possible to promote the health and well-being of those around us. 
  • as an institution, do everything possible to reinforce stated guidelines and to respond to violations swiftly, and with sanctions as warranted. 

The situation we face is serious, and we must respond in kind. The health and welfare of our community depends on it, and so does our ability to remain in person and on campus for the spring semester.

Limit Your Number of Close Contacts

COVID-19 spreads most rapidly among individuals who are in close contact with one another. Limiting your number of close contacts (people with whom you are within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period) is key to limiting the spread of COVID-19. That is why we are serving meals to-go. That is why students are limited to entering only the residence hall where they live. That is why there are restrictions to the number of people who can gather (no more than 10, per the governor). Wearing masks and maintaining a 6-foot physical distance from others is the best way to keep from creating close contacts. Do spend time with friends – those social connections are so important to your well-being, but understand that you must follow the guidelines.

The Importance of Masks

Wearing a mask must be our everyday habit. Wear a mask indoors (unless in your own room) and outdoors (unless an uninterrupted 6-foot distance can be maintained between you and others for the continuous duration of an activity), and when in vehicles when traveling with other people. Advice from our Public Health Advisory Team – wear a mask everywhere you can. Remember, too, that mask-wearing signals care and concern for others.  

Abide by the Healthy Together Community Commitment

I must be clear – there will be consequences for violations of the Healthy Together Community Commitment (HTCC). I urge you, therefore, to review and fully re-commit to the expectations outlined in the HTCC. W&M remains committed to due process in responding to violations. At the same time, given this global crisis in public health, we cannot permit students to remain on campus and behave in ways that endanger the safety and welfare of others. Please review the updated HTCC policy, procedures, and sanctions on the university website and reach out to the Dean of Students Office with any questions. NOTE: The HTCC policy applies to all students, regardless of whether or not you have been vaccinated already. Reports of concerning behavior should be directed to [[COVIDConcerns]]. Rumors often circulate on campus – know that we cannot take any action unless concrete information pertaining to violations of our policies is reported to us.  

Prevalence and Census Testing

Prevalence testing has already begun, and we continue to follow the guidance of the Public Health Advisory Team in how we approach that testing. Data-driven in their work, regular analyses include trends in viral spread and the results of wastewater testing. The week of Feb. 15 we will begin another round of census testing – all students living within 30 miles will be required to be tested. More details will be shared next week by the testing coordination team. By way of reminder, compliance with the HTCC includes following all testing requirements, instructions from medical professionals, and guidance regarding quarantine/isolation.

Seeking Medical Care & Reporting Positive Diagnoses

If you are experiencing health symptoms consistent with COVID-19, please seek medical attention right away. You can visit the Student Health Center on campus, or see a provider of your choice in the community. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 is required to notify the university at ReportCOVID.wm.edu. This will help us provide support for the student who is ill (including assigning a case manager to serve as a personal resource). It is also critical to identifying close contacts who may also be at risk of infection. As always, our primary goals are to support those who may be ill and to limit the spread of the virus. 

I cannot overstate how critical this early spring window is – each decision we make as individuals and collectively has a powerful impact on others and will affect our ability to complete the semester safely. W&M rose to the occasion last semester. Our continued vigilance will be what carries us through the end of this most challenging academic year.

Sincerely,
Ginger Ambler

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Updates & Highlights From COO Amy Sebring

February 2, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

As many of you are aware, I became director of W&M’s COVID-19 Response Team in December, in addition to maintaining my role as chief operations officer. With the fluidity of the public health landscape, I plan to provide you with periodic highlights related to COVID-19 developments as well as share brief updates related to university operations. 

Important Updates:

Vaccines: W&M is working closely with the City of Williamsburg, the Peninsula Health District and the Three Rivers Health District (VIMS campus) to offer vaccines to employees, including student workers, who meet the criteria for Phase 1A or Phase 1B based on their current work responsibilities. Determination of eligibility rests with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH).

To date, we have been able to schedule vaccines for roughly 170 employees, with another 320 to be scheduled as soon as vaccines become available, potentially as early as this week. If you believe you are eligible to receive a vaccine in Phase 1A or Phase 1B due to non-work criteria (e.g., age or underlying health criteria), please go to your local health department’s website to register and consult with your healthcare provider. [Ed. note: In response to Gov. Northam’s guidance that vaccine distribution should be allocated equally under Phase 1B between work responsibilities and age, the local vaccine clinic administration asked William & Mary to add contact information for our employees who are over 65. See the Feb. 9 message for more information.]

Some may feel they should wait or may even feel guilty about the opportunity to receive the vaccine before other community or family members. It’s important to remember that anyone being vaccinated has a positive impact on the rest of the community. Each administered vaccine offers more protection to all of us.

Health Protocols: Given current vaccine supply, it is likely that our entire community may not be vaccinated until summer or even fall. With case levels high in the surrounding communities and the emergence of new variants nationally, it is critical that we be more vigilant than ever in wearing face masks, maintaining appropriate distance and washing our hands. We need to make sure not only that we are wearing a mask, but that we are wearing it over our mouth and nose at all times.

We also need to be cognizant of those with whom we are in close contact and limit those number of close contacts routinely. All of the actions we are taking are intended to reduce close contacts on campus – whether indoors or outside. As much as we long to share a meal with one another or gather socially, adhering strictly to our health protocols now will ensure that our care systems are not overwhelmed and speed up our ability to gather together in the future.

Travel and Remote Work: W&M continues to restrict work-related travel to only essential trips that cannot be accomplished remotely or deferred to a later date.  Following a work-related trip, employees are required to work remotely for five days before returning to in-person work.

Although the university cannot require remote work following personal travel, we encourage you to work remotely for five days after you return home if your work responsibilities allow for that. Please work with your supervisor to schedule your work accordingly.

Healthy Together Community Commitment: All employees – faculty and staff – must reaffirm the HTCC through Cornerstone Learning no later than February 10. Students have already completed that affirmation. For those of you working with vendors on campus, please reinforce the HTCC principles and the expectation that they adhere to our protocols at all times on campus.

COVID-19 Testing: Over the next week, we will complete our pre-arrival testing for students and employees in high-contact roles. We have begun weekly prevalence testing for employees and students; prevalence testing is mandatory if you are selected. In addition, we will continue offering free at-will testing for W&M employees via VCU Health at the clinic at 332 N. Henry Street. Please go to the at-will testing portal to schedule an appointment if you’re interested.

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A Spring Welcome from Student Affairs

January 29, 2021

Dear W&M students,

On behalf of all of us in Student Affairs, I am delighted to welcome you back as we kick off our spring semester at William & Mary. Classes are underway and student groups are coming together again (albeit virtually), and together we can look forward with hope and in anticipation to the days growing longer, the weather getting warmer, and vaccinations becoming more widely available.

As we head into this first weekend of the semester, I must stress how critical it is for you to adhere to all public health practices and the Healthy Together Community Commitment (HTCC). Our behaviors and choices in these first weeks will impact our ability to complete a Spring semester on campus. Even as we look ahead to brighter days, current pandemic conditions in our region require that we be more vigilant than ever in our public health practices. Our Public Health Advisory Team continues to guide our decision-making in light of all that science is revealing about COVID-19 and its spread (e.g. indoor dining without masks and without physical distance is a high-risk activity).

The keys to staying healthy together

Each of us – students, faculty, and staff – must continue to follow these essential best practices:

  • Always wear a mask, indoors or outdoors and in vehicles if traveling with multiple people.
  • Maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from others at all times.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people (per the governor’s order).
  • Do not visit campus until after you’ve received your negative test results and self-quarantined for 8-10 days; doing so is a violation of the HTCC
New policies for the near term

Until the community is notified otherwise:

  • Dining will serve to-go meals only (at least through Feb. 10).
  • Resident students still may only access the dorm in which they live.
  • No food or beverages are allowed in academic buildings.
  • Special guidelines remain in place for recognized student organizations.

Our earnest hope is to open dining halls again once we begin in-person classes on Feb. 10. We anticipate that student groups will begin meeting in person after that date. We know that students want very much to visit each other’s residence halls as soon as it is safe to do so. While that is not yet allowed under our Healthy Together Community Commitment, the more careful and consistent you are during these early days of the semester, the more swiftly we will be able to move to fewer restrictions in the weeks and months ahead.

Great plans in the works

We encourage you to take advantage of new student activities, to attend events planned for these first weeks of the semester, and to embrace the outdoors together! (Note: If you don’t have hardy enough cold-weather clothing, please contact the Dean of Students Office for assistance).

  • Discover "20 in 21," an event series that features 20 events over 21 days; visit the TribeLink event site for more information.
  • Fire pits are coming to the Terrace and areas around the Sunken Garden to support warm gatherings despite chilly temperatures (7-10 p.m.).
  • Tents continue to provide covered outdoor space to gather appropriately.
  • Look for outdoor winter offerings planned by Campus Recreation.
A focus on wellness

This spring we remain fully committed to supporting the mental health needs of our community. That is one reason W&M did not opt for a shorter semester – we heard what a stressor that was for students in the fall. We hope you will enjoy “Wellness Your Way” through our six spring break days. Spring break days are designed to be true days off, to use however you wish. Professors have been asked not to have major assignments due just before or just after those days. Most importantly, we have expanded our direct mental health and wellness services; W&M News offers a good roundup of offerings and how they help.

Accountability and mutual respect

Remember, studying and living together at William & Mary means we bear a special responsibility to care for one another. It is imperative that all members of our campus community abide by the Healthy Together Community Commitment (HTCC) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 here and in our town. Only with strict adherence to these strategies can we help ensure one another’s safety. Each of us on campus will be held accountable for following the HTCC, a commitment all students, faculty and staff must have affirmed as we start this new semester. We ask that you hold to these standards and support each other to do so, in a mutually respectful way. In addition to the public health practices noted above, remember that the HTCC also includes compliance with requirements for COVID-19 testing and all instructions provided by health professionals and COVID-19 case managers.

I am enormously proud of the thoughtful, caring, academic community we continually create and nurture at William & Mary. And I have full faith that, working together, we can make it safely to those sunnier days ahead. I wish you all the best for this semester and look forward to seeing you both virtually and on campus this spring.

Sincerely,
Ginger Ambler

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

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Welcome and updates from CRT

January 25, 2021

Dear W&M students, faculty and staff,

Welcome back to the spring semester. As students return to W&M’s residence halls and campus activity increases, I write on behalf of the COVID-19 Response Team to reinforce practices that contributed to our success in the fall. This email also summarizes additional measures to mitigate COVID-19 at William & Mary this spring.

Coronavirus case numbers continue to surge nationally. The local and state landscapes are not much better. The Public Health Advisory Team continues to monitor health information daily, informing the university leadership as we operate under pandemic conditions.

One of the lessons we learned from the fall was that our shared commitment to protecting our community’s health allowed us keep positivity rates below that of other communities. So, under the current conditions, it is now more important than ever that we each maintain our diligence and support others in doing the same. Each student, faculty and staff member plays an important role in this effort. I’m confident we will build on the lessons we’ve learned and double-down on our health practices.

I have important updates in four areas today: Vaccinations, Reporting Violations and Concerns, After-hours Building Access, and the Healthy Together Community Commitment and Daily Health Check.

Vaccinations

Phase 1A and Phase 1B

William & Mary is working with local Virginia Department of Health districts to identify W&M and VIMS employees who have job responsibilities that qualify them for vaccination in Phase 1A or Phase 1B. Many of our employees with direct patient-care responsibilities – such as those working in the Student Health Center or in dedicated quarantine and isolation housing – qualify for Phase 1A distribution and have already received their first vaccination. Police and other essential workers are eligible for Phase 1B distribution and we are working to get them scheduled for vaccines. If you fall into one of those categories, you will be contacted directly with instructions on when you can schedule your vaccination, should you choose to be vaccinated.

We will continue providing information to the local health districts on employees meeting job-related criteria for 1A and 1B vaccinations as more vaccines become available through the health districts and the City of Williamsburg, with whom W&M is closely partnered in this effort.

Phase 1C and General Population

The majority of faculty and staff members, because they work in Virginia higher education, qualify for the 1C distribution schedule. At this time, the local health districts have not begun offering vaccines to individuals in Phase 1C. We anticipate most of our students will be vaccinated with the general population following Phase 1C. We have not yet received information on the timing of vaccinations for either Phase 1C or the general population. We will update you as we know more.

We recognize that students, faculty and staff who do not qualify for vaccinations at present due to their job responsibilities at W&M may have additional circumstances that qualify them for a different phase of distribution. For example, students, faculty or staff members with underlying medical conditions or meeting certain age criteria may qualify for the 1A or 1B distribution schedule. At this time, William & Mary, as an employer, has been asked to forward information to VDH for those with job functions that fit into the early phases of vaccination.

If you believe you qualify for Phase 1A or 1B due to your age or underlying medical condition(s), you should follow up with VDH and your physician or healthcare provider. VDH has launched a portal to assess your status and sign up for vaccination alerts at VDH COVID-19 Vaccination Response. Click “Find out which phase you are eligible for” to access the portal.

As vaccines become more widely available, we will continue to work with our regional partners to advocate for access for those W&M students, faculty and staff seeking to be vaccinated.

Vaccine Requirements

Because the current COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed under an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, they are not currently required of any faculty, staff or students. However, in the future, when the vaccines are approved beyond emergency use, they may be included among the other vaccinations the Commonwealth requires of students who attend W&M or for employees. W&M will continue working with state officials on those determinations as more information becomes available.

Reporting Violations and Mutual Respect

William & Mary continues to monitor the [[COVIDConcerns]] email address for reports of instances of unsafe behavior in our community. You should feel empowered, as a student, faculty or staff member, to report persistent concerns; the COVID-19 Response Team refers the reports to the appropriate academic, student or HR department or division for investigation, follow-up and action, including discipline.

Let me stress the importance of non-judgmental stances with respect to reporting and compliance. William & Mary community members must strive not to shame others as we create shared norms and habits. We all make honest mistakes as we continue to adjust to living, working and learning under pandemic conditions; many of these can be addressed on the spot with a respectful reminder of the community standard. When you think that won’t work, please don’t hesitate to ask a colleague or friend for thoughtful support or report the unsafe behavior.

After-Hours Building Access

Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 27, some academic buildings supporting Arts & Sciences will be accessible to all students, with swipe access, for evening study hours. Monday through Friday, select buildings will be accessible from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. [Weekend hours updated. -Ed.] Students may remain in the facilities until midnight, but will not be able to swipe in past 10 p.m. The William & Mary Police Department will periodically patrol the facilities during this time.

  • Tyler Hall
  • Tucker Hall
  • Morton Hall
  • Jones Hall
  • Integrated Science Center (except the third floor)
  • Blow Hall (third floor)
  • McGlothlin-Street Hall

Please note that not all spaces within a building will be available and that all university health and safety guidelines apply for after-hours use of these facilities. No food is to be brought in, ordered or consumed in these spaces. Masks that cover both nose and mouth are required, as is maintaining at least six feet of distance. Access to these spaces brings with it an obligation to sanitize the space when you come in and as you leave.

Healthy Together Community Commitment and Daily Health Check

W&M students are required to affirm their agreement to the Healthy Together Community Commitment again this spring. We are also requiring all faculty and staff to reaffirm the Health Together Community Commitment by watching a 10-minute video recapping the highlights from our video series this fall and again attesting to the commitment in Cornerstone no later than Wednesday, February 10. These will be available for faculty and staff in Cornerstone Learning no later than February 1; visit the “My Transcripts” tab to access the videos and agreement.

The Healthy Together Daily Health Check is available through the W&M Mobile app or m.wm.edu. We highly recommend that you continue to use it; however, we will not be requiring its use this semester. When we originally introduced the tool, general understanding of COVID-19, risky health behaviors and potential symptoms were not well understood. After six months, we recognize that we all have a much better understanding of the virus, so the mandated daily reminder is less useful. If you need a refresher or are concerned about potential symptoms, it may provide a first check to help you determine whether you need to modify your actions or reach out to a health care provider for a diagnostic assessment.

Please remember now that we are in the midst of winter and with spring allergy season on the horizon you should not attend in-person classes or come to campus if you are not feeling well.  Do not assume it’s only a cold or allergies. Rather, assume you may be infected and seek medical guidance before continuing to study or work in person. We want to make sure that you’re getting the care you need and that you are not inadvertently putting others at risk.

As a final note, this past weekend we welcomed new undergraduate freshmen, transfer and international students to move-in, along with freshmen who studied entirely remotely in the fall. We recognize that these students have been oriented to W&M’s health and safety protocols, but don’t yet have a successful semester under their belts in terms of our shared norms and expectations. They will be looking to all of us – students, faculty and staff – for guidance, modeling and mentorship. We know the first semester of college can be challenging and stressful for students under normal conditions – so much more during a pandemic! I know that we will all do our best to help our students develop the habits and norms that will help protect themselves and others throughout the spring semester.

Sincerely,
Amy Sebring
W&M COO, COVID-19 Director

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Expectations for Spring 2021

January 14, 2021

Dear William & Mary Community,

I write to share William & Mary’s expectations for the spring semester, with planned adjustments that reflect current public health conditions. Through the break, staff and faculty have been intensively preparing for a spring semester that will be different. In early January, the United States is experiencing the fiercest spread of COVID-19 to date. At the same time, hearts are lifted by the vaccines being distributed to frontline healthcare workers and our most vulnerable community members – thanks to extraordinary efforts by scientists around the world.

Here is what has not changed
  • William & Mary’s goals remain: to do everything we can to safeguard our community’s health – transforming the campus and establishing shared norms and values – so that we can sustain our mission of teaching, learning and research.
  • We continue to make decisions in a phased way that allows us to move forward with the best data and scientific evidence available and adjust to changing public health conditions.
  • And we continue to offer as much flexibility as possible for our students, so each can choose the learning environment that gives them the best chance of success in this time of ongoing uncertainty.
  • Finally, we will communicate steadily as conditions change, creating as much certainty as we are able to.

From a successful fall, we know that campus communities can work, live and study together as long as we remain committed to protecting ourselves and others. On campus, that will mean re-creating our shared norms around mask wearing (indoors and out), physical distancing and other measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. So too, actions taken off campus have an impact on the W&M community. For those in Williamsburg, a wholehearted embrace of our shared norms is needed wherever we are, on campus and off. At the beginning of the semester, outdoor temperatures will remain low in Williamsburg; we will spend more time indoors, and need to exhibit steadfast resolve. The W&M community is known for its conscientious care, and I’m confident in our commitment to one another.

Headlines for spring 2021
  • William & Mary is implementing every adaptation and adjustment that proved successful in the fall.
  • Anticipating that early winter would bring a pandemic surge, we have planned significant additional steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • In the fall, William & Mary succeeded in our goals to take care of each other, and to protect our community, because of the close partnerships we built within and beyond the university: partnerships with student, staff and faculty assemblies’ leadership; city and state health officials; colleagues at other institutions; and drawing on the expertise of our own people. Those partnerships remain crucial to a successful spring.

I ask everyone to read carefully our key updates for spring.

The Path Forward website is updated regularly, includes a detailed timeline, and is the best source for the most current information on:

  • Phased return to campus / phased return to in-person classes
  • Academic building access
  • Latest vaccine information
  • Adjustments to campus services, such as carry-out dining
  • Guidelines for student organizations

We launch the spring semester during a moment of deep uncertainty about the national public health picture in the coming months. So I am delighted to share that I will host Dr. Anthony Fauci for a Community Conversation on January 26 at 3 p.m. I encourage you to submit your questions regarding the national public health landscape for Dr. Fauci in advance. We hope to address the most pressing interests of this community in that conversation.

We also begin this semester at a moment of national reckoning, a moment in which many are deeply concerned about the future of our democratic processes. William & Mary remains focused on our responsibility to prepare the future leaders of our democracy, businesses and organizations. And we remain committed to providing a safe learning environment for debate, discussion and disagreement.

As we did in the fall, we are counting on each of you to help us navigate these unprecedented times. We are in this together. Your questions, feedback and insights help inform our path forward, so please continue to use the online form and we will endeavor to be responsive.

Your patience, dedication and creativity are William & Mary’s most powerful strengths, and we are enormously grateful.

Sincerely,
– Katherine

Katherine A. Rowe
President

Phased Return to Campus

William & Mary is again phasing move-in and return to in-person classes, in order to de-densify campus and establish healthy norms from the start. The spring course schedule includes in-person, blended and fully-remote sections. The spring academic calendar is not shortened; we have adopted spring break days throughout the semester. Details are available in the spring calendar announcement and the University Registrar’s website.

Move-in
  • New students, including transfer, freshmen and international students, as well as freshmen who studied remotely in the fall January 22
  • Returning freshmen and international students January 23-24
  • Seniors January 30
  • Sophomores and juniors February 6-7
Classes
  • Law School January 19
  • Full-time MBA, flex MBA, MAcc and MSBA programs January 25
  • Undergraduate classes begin remotely January 27
  • Graduate arts & sciences, marine science and education January 27
  • In-person and blended undergraduate classes begin convening February 10
Building access

The Law School will reopen to faculty, staff and students with card access beginning January 19. All other W&M academic buildings will reopen for use by students, faculty and staff on Thursday, Jan. 21. This includes expanded classroom access as student study space; no food or drink is permitted in these spaces. As a reminder, students must have a negative COVID-19 test before coming to campus.

Coronavirus Response
Vaccine information

The Virginia Department of Health is coordinating the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in the Commonwealth and is currently in Phase 1A. As VDH partners with William & Mary to develop distribution plans for our population, some 1A qualifying members of the W&M community will begin receiving doses this week. The Commonwealth has designated the bulk of higher education faculty and staff as essential workers in Phase 1C. William & Mary is partnering with our local health districts for vaccine plans and will announce details for faculty, staff and students as they are further developed.

Mask use

Masks will continue to be required, indoors and outdoors, in the spring, with some exceptions, including within dorm rooms and outdoors when proper distance can be maintained. Specifics are available on the Path Forward website. We anticipate continuing to wear masks even as vaccinations become more widespread. While the vaccines protect the inoculated individual, it is currently unclear whether they prevent the person from further spreading COVID-19.

Dining

At the launch of the semester, all dining options will be to-go only. We encourage students, faculty and staff to eat outdoors as weather permits. If positivity rates remain reasonable, W&M plans to transition to limited indoor seating with the start of in-person undergraduate classes on February 10.

Daily menus are available for review in the BiteU app that can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play. For quick selection and reduced wait times, students can review before arriving. Students may also use the BiteU app for mobile-ordering at Marketplace, Cosi, Qdoba and Sadler Express.

Students may make eligible changes to meal plans by visiting mealplan.wm.edu before February 5.

Guidelines for Recognized Student Organizations

To ensure the health and safety of individuals and the collective W&M community, Recognized Student Organization (RSO) activities will continue to operate with a limited scope that promotes the Healthy Together Community Commitment. The established guidelines and expectations from the fall will continue as we begin the Spring 2021 semester. These are subject to review and change throughout the semester. We hope to be able to expand the scope of activity as pandemic conditions improve. More detailed information can be found on the Student Leadership Development website. The following are general guidelines:

  • A moratorium on all in-person RSO events and activities will be in effect between the time residence halls open and the start of in-person classes.
  • In-person RSO events and activities must have an event/activity plan in place that ensures safety for members and participants.
  • RSOs will be responsible for tracking attendance at all in-person events and activities (TribeLink and Mobile Check In are the recommended tools). Tracking through TribeLink will be required for space reserved through SUE Events.
  • A physical distance of 6 feet between participants must be maintained.
  • Facial coverings must be worn at all times.
  • No food or alcohol may be served or provided by RSO’s at organization events or activities.
  • RSOs will abide by specific limitations affecting meetings, activities and events.
International student self-quarantine

All students are advised to self-quarantine for 8-10 days before beginning their travel back to campus. Those students traveling from outside the continental U.S. must take their self-administered COVID-19 test once they arrive. They should allow for an additional 2-3 days of self-quarantine while they await their test results.

For students traveling by air, the U.S. will begin requiring a negative test result prior to boarding an airplane headed to the U.S., effective January 26. Visit the CDC website for more information on the new requirement. Students will be able to upload their negative test results in the Kallaco portal in lieu of taking W&M’s self-administered test.

Additional Measures
Testing

As in the fall, W&M is implementing a robust coronavirus testing program that includes pre-arrival testing as well as wastewater, prevalence and at-will testing throughout the semester. As a reminder, participation in the university’s testing program is mandatory; if you are contacted to participate in prevalence testing, you must respond.

W&M will exempt community members from pre-arrival and prevalence testing for 90 days after receiving a positive test result. To provide documentation of the positive, visit the Kallaco portal Records menu and follow prompts to Upload Record.

Quarantine

In response to a change in CDC guidelines, William & Mary’s Public Health Advisory Team has recommended a 10-day self-quarantine or isolation for those who test positive as well as students, faculty and staff who have been identified as close contacts.

Contact Tracing

William & Mary has also developed detailed contact tracing and case management systems that help students, faculty and staff navigate a positive diagnosis. The university additionally reserves Richmond Hall as dedicated quarantine & isolation housing for students and has overflow dedicated quarantine housing available, if needed, for those living on campus. For those who live off campus, the university has developed a resource guide. Find details at the Path Forward website. If you do test positive for coronavirus, please visit ReportCovid.

Healthy Together Community Commitment

One of William & Mary’s greatest strengths is our sense of community. As we face the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic and plan ahead to mitigate risks, a commitment to community-wide actions is absolutely essential. Our ability to advance during this pandemic requires each member of the community, without exception, to comply with all COVID-19 related health and safety rules as articulated by university leadership generally and the COVID-19 Response Team in particular. Please visit the Path Forward website for more information about the Healthy Together Community Commitment.

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Return to Campus Testing - Spring 2021

January 8, 2021

Dear William & Mary Students, Faculty & Staff,

As William & Mary moves into a new semester, the COVID-19 Testing Coordination Team provides the following information on testing efforts for the Spring 2021 semester.

William & Mary is continuing to partner with the VCU Health System (VCUHS) for expanded medical services, including COVID-19 testing for students and employees. We continue to work closely with Kallaco on testing logistics, partnering with Clinical Reference Laboratory for return to campus testing.

In coordination with those partners and in consultation with W&M’s Public Health Advisory Team, we will continue to modify our testing program to reflect current public health conditions and use appropriate testing options based on the data and science available. For now, I write to provide an update on our current testing plans as we approach the start of the spring semester.

Student Testing

All students  living in campus housing or within a 30-mile radius of campus, 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. The timing of initial testing depends on when a student has been approved to return to campus:

  • Students will receive an email 10 to 12 days prior to return asking them to confirm their order for a self-administered, mail-in saliva COVID-19 test kit prior to coming to campus.
    • Students must confirm the order no later than 8 days prior to their planned return to campus through their Kallaco portal in order for the test kit to be mailed. Test kits will arrive in time for students to self-administer the test, mail it back and receive test results before they are due to arrive on campus.
    • Consistent with current VDH and CDC guidelines, we recommend students self-quarantine for 8-10 days prior to arrival.
    • For the first 10 days after arrival, close contact should be limited to roommates or housemates.
  • Tracking information for returning the test to the lab is not available in the portal, so you will need to record the tracking number provided on the return label so you can track it through the FedEx website.
  • International students must send their test to a stateside address. They should plan to self-quarantine off campus while they await the results of their test (2-3 days). If they do not have a stateside address to mail the test, they can be mailed to and picked up from the Student Health Center at:  
William & Mary
Student Health Center
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you must isolate at home and the Student Health Center will work with you on your return to campus plans. You must also complete the form at Report COVID to initiate case management that will assist with isolation requirements and help you navigate classes and study.
  • If you are in quarantine as a close contact, you must finish your 10-day quarantine at home prior to returning to campus.
  • Similar to the fall, W&M will conduct mandatory prevalence testing (sampling at least 5% of the student body) weekly and census testing of the full student body based on guidance from the Public Health Advisory Team and our healthcare partners.
  • Students who experience symptoms over the course of the semester should make an appointment with the Student Health Center or a private healthcare provider for a clinical assessment and testing if necessary.
Employee Testing

As we did in the fall, employees in high contact positions that are not able to sustain masking, distancing or other health provisions due to the nature of their jobs may be required to test before the university welcomes returning students to campus. You will be notified by your supervisor or the Testing Coordination Team if you have been identified.

  • Voluntary at-will testing through VCUHS will resume the week of January 25 by appointment only. A reminder message with the link to book an appointment will be sent the week prior.
  • Mandatory prevalence testing (sampling at least 2% of the employee population) will continue weekly.
  • Employees who experience symptoms should make an appointment with their health care provider for a clinical assessment.
  • If an employee tests positive or has been identified as a close contact, they are also required to complete the form at Report COVID. They must remain off campus until cleared to return by their assigned case manager, who may ask for documentation from a physician or health care provider.
Testing Exceptions and Return to Campus for Individuals who Recently Tested Positive for COVID-19

Tests can continue to detect viral material in those who have previously tested positive after they are no longer infectious. Following CDC guidelines, W&M will exempt students, employees and dining workers from pre-arrival and prevalence testing for a period of 90 days after the date a positive test was administered, upon documentation of the result. To provide documentation of the prior positive test result, please visit the Kallaco portal Records menu and follow the prompts to Upload Record.

Will there be testing at the end of the Spring 2021 semester?

Depending on the timing of vaccinations, William & Mary may again offer voluntary testing for students and employees who wish to be tested prior to returning home for the summer. We are working with our local health district and will provide information on vaccines as information becomes available.

We will continue providing update information in the coming days and weeks. Thank you for your diligence and commitment to keeping William & Mary healthy together.

Sincerely,

Amy Sebring, COVID Director and Chief Operating Officer

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