Learning & Curriculum
William & Mary is adapting class delivery and curriculum choices to protect the health of our community and minimize travel. Built-in flexibility reflects W&M’s equity imperative — we provide options for community members with different health situations and changing family and financial circumstances. Our goals are to focus on what matters most in the Path Forward: excellence, mitigating stress and strengthening our community.
In response to student and faculty concerns about the fall's compressed semester, William & Mary did not shorten Spring 2021 and incorporated a modified spring break.
W&M continues to place first priority on the health of the community, including mental health. In order to provide restorative breaks while reducing travel, W&M offered individual spring break days in 2021, rather than a consecutive, five-day break. On these spring break days, classes did not meet and no due dates for assignments or exams were scheduled.
For undergraduates, there were six spring break days:
Graduate schools were in direct contact with students regarding spring break days and other academic calendar considerations.
William & Mary shifted scheduling for academic year 2020-2021, in response to the pandemic. The fall semester was accelerated to de-densify campus before the onset of cold weather and flu season. Spring was not condensed, but spring break days were adopted rather than a contiguous break. An enhanced summer session is designed to ensure student progress continues unimpeded. The university’s goal is to prioritize safety while offering as much in-person instruction as possible.
COVID-19 Protocols for Summer
W&M anticipates continuing to require face masks and physical distancing, along with other precautions intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19, during the summer months. With guidance from the Public Health Advisory Team, W&M policies and guidelines will be updated as more information becomes available from the CDC and VDH about mitigation strategies and the status of vaccinations. In addition, given that most 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.
Summer Work Expectations for Faculty and Staff
The President’s Cabinet will discuss the university’s needs as W&M moves toward a fall semester anticipated to be largely in person. The university recognizes that many employees will need to begin shifting from working primarily in a remote or blended manner to be prepared for the start of the fall semester. W&M is providing additional guidance for managers and supervisors in late spring.
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. 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. Consistent with W&M’s 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. 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
W&M remains focused on maintaining campus operations for university students, faculty and staff. Summer camps or other summer conferences and events typically offered prior to the COVID-19 pandemic will not be offered. The university is considering the potential to open some non-residential facilities to the general public later in the summer as public health conditions allow.
To protect the health of the William & Mary community, classrooms and learning spaces have been modified at W&M. Students, faculty and staff are required to wear face coverings indoors and are provided masks in a kit provided by William & Mary. Students are responsible for cleaning class desk space before and after use with disinfectant wipes provided, while professors are responsible for teaching space.
Many classes have moved to provide sufficient physical distancing. The deans’ offices work with faculty to decide classroom accommodations, after William & Mary inventoried large spaces available for instruction. Classes with fewer people are held in larger spaces to maintain at least six feet between participants, while those with large numbers of students are held remotely or in smaller groups. Hand sanitation stations have been placed across campus and new signage displayed. Classrooms and public spaces have been cleaned on an accelerated schedule, consistent with CDC and VDH guidelines.
William & Mary is using non-traditional space for classes, including outdoor canopies, available conference rooms and the like. The university has designated traffic patterns for spaces, including entrances and exits, and is using real-time technology to track density in high-traffic areas of campus.
Courses are delivered in a format that maximizes meaningful interaction between faculty and students and reflects William & Mary’s high quality of teaching and learning. Almost all courses are “blended” to some degree, with students learning in real time and instruction delivered both directly and via technology throughout the semester. Faculty are advised to prepare classes in a way that makes it possible to switch to fully remote learning on short notice if public health conditions require it. Instructional design support is available for technology-enhanced instruction; contact the Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation for details.
Led by the deans, each school chooses in-person and blended strategies, including but not limited to these options:
Wellness in the Classroom
Classrooms have been reconfigured to allow for at least 6 feet of physical distance between participants. Masks are required and disinfectant wipes are available for students and faculty members. Students, faculty and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate for 10 days, while those determined to be close contacts of a positive individual quarantine for 14 days. Positive community members, after 10 days of isolation, must be asymptomatic and cleared by a physician before they return to work or class. Following CDC guidance, W&M does not require a negative COVID-19 test to return.
William & Mary is also exploring ways to mitigate the stresses of teaching and learning during a global pandemic. These initiatives include limits on course overloads with a process for approving exceptions, curriculum changes, empowering units to partner with students to develop guidelines for reducing stress, developing new ways to strengthen community through academic programs and promoting increased accountability for one another’s health.
Living & Working
While W&M continues to emphasize remote work to the maximum extent possible, the university has increased essential, in-person work. Consistent with CDC and VDH guidelines for workplaces, William & Mary has systematically rearranged the physical environment to provide physical distance, installed plexiglass barriers and signage, required appropriate personal protective equipment of employees — and provided ample opportunities for manager training and employee feedback.
Summer 2021: Phasing To In-Person Work
Intellectual community, learning in the company of others – these are the core components of W&M’s mission calling remote employees back. The key verb is convene: “William & Mary convenes great minds and hearts to meet the most pressing needs of our time.”
Students have made clear that the experience of college they seek is in-person, on W&M’s beautiful campuses in Williamsburg, at VIMS and in Washington, D.C. The benefits of in-person learning for many have been thrown into stark relief by pandemic. For all of these reasons, William & Mary plans to be at full capacity for in-person teaching and learning in Fall 2021. Our public health expectations reflect that goal.
Read: W&M President Katherine A. Rowe’s Full Message to Employees on Returning In-Person
Gains To Carry Forward
Whether working in person on campus, remote or some combination of the two, W&M’s dedicated employees made this year possible for our students. Over the past year, we learned so much and want to carry those gains forward. The ways W&M employees work and interact changed – with improvements in collaboration, efficiency and flexibility that are important for staff, faculty and the university as a whole. The university adopted new tools and gained new fluencies; formed new teams across disciplines and units; expanded capabilities for remote and hybrid education, which will serve W&M well in addressing the specific needs of those who cannot return to campus, such as international students still awaiting visas.
W&M’s Phased Return: Through June 30, 2022
Over the next 14 months, in the five phases outlined below, W&M will determine the appropriate modes of work to accomplish the mission of each office and academic function. As employees return, safety and well-being will continue to be top priority.
Cabinet members will assess the optimal work modes for different functions and disciplines, to carry forward gains in efficiency and flexibility. Their goal is to identify appropriate kinds of flexibility that benefit the university and employees, while advancing W&M’s mission of teaching, learning and research in a predominantly in-person context.
The provost and deans will share academic plans as the summer unfolds, and the chief operating officer will communicate regularly with staff. As always, W&M will continue to adjust university policies to align with state and federal guidance.
Phases of Return
May 24-June 5: Phase I. Campus Slow-Down
June 6-July 15: Phase II. Campus Open For Employees. Remote Learning. Phased Opening to Public
July 16-September 1: Phase III. Begin to Return to In-Person Work
Fall Semester 2021: Phase IV. Predominantly In-Person. Decisions on Functional Work Modes
Spring Semester 2022: Phase V. In-Person. Adaptations Determined by Cabinet
William & Mary has developed solutions for symptom-tracking, testing and contact-tracing for COVID-19 among members of our community. These efforts, including symptomatic and prevalence testing, along with case management, are helping William & Mary identify and control outbreaks.
Exemptions: Consistent with the CDC’s guidelines for fully vaccinated people, William & Mary is exempting fully vaccinated faculty, staff and students from participation in prevalence and census testing and quarantine if identified as a close contact and asymptomatic. Visit the W&M COVID-19 vaccination page for more information.
The university has developed a COVID-19 testing protocol in partnership with the VCU Health System that includes pre-arrival testing; prevalence and census testing of students; wastewater testing; voluntary, at-will testing for faculty and staff; and exit testing at the end of the semester. Additionally, the W&M Mobile app allows users to check for COVID-19 symptoms daily.
Employees who experience COVID-19 symptoms should make an appointment with their health care provider for a clinical assessment. Employees who test positive or have been identified as a close contact are 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.
Facilities & Work Spaces
To promote health and help prevent the spread of infection, employees are responsible for maintaining their personal offices and work spaces. William & Mary provides cleaning materials. Masks are required in all communal indoor spaces, including classrooms. Students and faculty members are responsible for cleaning class desk and lecture space before and after use.
Faculty and staff members need to take their personal trash to a public space for disposal, which prevents custodial staff from needing to enter individual offices and facilitates more frequent cleaning of public, high-touch areas. Faculty and staff members are advised to partner with Facilities Management for physical adjustments to public-facing areas and areas where physical distancing cannot be maintained.
William & Mary has designed signs for use around campus to promote safe practices. Please contact Kristen Fagan, risk manager for university operations, to arrange for consistent signage.
The need for physical distancing in classrooms requires that instruction expand into spaces ordinarily available for student or administrative use. William & Mary has worked on a system of centralized scheduling of spaces to support instruction.
As members of the university community, each faculty and staff member is expected to adhere to William & Mary’s safety guidelines and protocols:
The university is providing each employee with a wellness kit that includes face masks, hand sanitizer and wipes, plus additional cleaning supplies for individual work spaces.
Remote work agreements for staff that were used in the fall automatically extend through the spring semester, unless modified by a member of Cabinet. Staff working remotely that have not completed the form should do so via Banner Self Service (Employee tab > Employee Forms > Telecommuting Work Agreement).
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread widely throughout the United States and in countries around the world. William & Mary’s overarching guidance remains to work from home wherever that is possible, and to obey strict university guidelines in the conduct of any other assigned duty. Strict limitations on university travel, both domestic and international, continue to be warranted. In order to protect the health of the university and greater Williamsburg community, non-essential William & Mary travel has been suspended until conditions change.
W&M leadership recognizes that in a limited number of cases, university travel may be essential. Accordingly, the following details the exceptions for faculty and staff that will be considered and the processes for review of requests for such exceptions. In all cases, overnight travelers will be required to self-quarantine for at least 5 days and/or to obtain two negative tests for COVID-19 upon return to Williamsburg as a condition of approval for travel and for re-entering the W&M campus prior to or during spring 2021.
There will be no approval for faculty or staff attending professional meetings in person; the guidance below only relates to faculty or staff performing research or essential university work that requires in-person presence.
Faculty and Graduate Student Travel
Recognizing the need to travel in delivering essential academic, research and business services – and that such travel can be done safely – authorization for W&M staff travel may be requested through the relevant dean for faculty and staff working in one of the five schools, and for all others through the appropriate Cabinet members, under the following conditions:
Staff travelers must submit a pre-approval request through Chrome River for all travel, including day trips and meals. Pre-approval will be routed to the appropriate dean or other Cabinet member. Delegates may not approve on behalf of the Cabinet member.
Undergraduate Student Academic Travel
Events & Campus Gatherings
Campus gatherings, including university, school, department or student events and meetings, are subject to public health guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Virginia Department of Health and the governor. William & Mary's requirements limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people. External events and those with visitors should be converted to virtual gatherings. Exceptions include a small set of university traditions, approved by the President’s Executive Leadership Team. Campus buildings remain closed to the public.
The health and well-being of W&M student-athletes, coaches and staff, as well as the full campus community that supports them, remains top priority. W&M Athletics is part of the overall educational mission of the university, and providing an environment that ensures the greatest opportunity for academic instruction to occur for all students is paramount. Find the latest information on the W&M Athletics website.
Employee Support & Wellness
Residential universities uniquely intertwine service work and knowledge work. To the extent that W&M can adapt to sustain this unique model, we can also sustain our economy and workforce through the shocks of a pandemic. As much as possible, W&M has an obligation to ensure the prosperity of our employees and region. W&M Human Resources offers multiple resources to support employees, both on and off campus. Wellness resources may also be found on the Health & Wellness website.