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Latest about COVID-19 and the Path Forward for fall.

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Faculty & Staff

We are here for you.

William & Mary will be different this fall. We are adapting so you can do your best work.

Report Feeling Ill: If you're a student, faculty or staff member feeling sick and suspecting you've contracted COVID-19, please visit our resource page for instructions on seeking care during and after normal business hours.

Have a question? W&M's call center at (757) 221-7420 answers questions or reports concerns related to the fall semester. Staffed by W&M employees, the call center is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. After-hours, W&M students, faculty and staff email questions to [[COVIDResponse]] or report unsafe behavior at COVIDConcerns.wm.edu.

Learning & Curriculum

William & Mary is adapting the academic calendar, class delivery and curriculum choices to protect the health of our community, to minimize travel and to reduce campus presence in peak flu season. Built-in flexibility also 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.

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Academic Calendar

William & Mary will offer three semesters for academic year 2020-2021: an accelerated fall semester, plus spring and summer semesters. We will have no fall break.

The fall semester for undergraduates, Graduate Arts & Sciences, VIMS and School of Education began one week early on August 19 and will end before Thanksgiving. There will be no in-person, undergraduate courses until September 8. Some COLL courses may begin and proceed in person. There will be no fall break. The last day of classes for undergraduates, Graduate Arts & Sciences and VIMS will be November 13, and final exams will take place November 16-24. Students will move out of residence halls November 25. Grades are due December 7. Additional program schedules will be announced soon.

Due to the compressed schedule, five extra instructional days will be added, and we will have no fall break. Delivery options include Saturday, evening or online sessions. Each course syllabus will note how and when the extra sessions will be delivered.

Summer Semester

To ensure that our students have the opportunity to spend a full academic year on campus, a rich semester experience will be offered next summer. Summer 2021 will include courses that were not offered during the previous two semesters, courses that complement and expand our current programs and offerings, as well as unique programs that can be completed during the summer, such as the new Jump Start Data Science Program and Mason’s Summer Business Institute.

Each school will determine what they intend to offer during the summer, and the deans will work with the provost to ensure that the resulting summer 2021 is a fully coordinated and comprehensive semester. More details about summer 2021 will be announced.

Learning Spaces

The changes occurring this fall will require flexibility and creativity, including adaptations of learning spaces and modes of course delivery.

Most classes will need to be moved for sufficient physical distancing. The Deans’ offices will work with faculty to decide classroom accommodations. William & Mary has completed an inventory of large spaces available for instruction in the fall. Face coverings are required in all public or communal spaces, including classrooms, and will be provided by W&M. More frequent cleaning of classrooms will also be required.

  • For courses that are mostly face-to-face and synchronous, classrooms will hold the projected enrollment.
  • For courses that evenly blend in-person instruction with expanded remote delivery of instructional material, content and activity, W&M will base classroom determination on the maximum number of students in the classroom at once. For example, if a course with a projected enrollment of 120 is going to use a “flipped” approach, and only a third of the students will be meeting in any given session, the classroom capacity would need to hold 40 students, or one third of 120. Another option is for faculty teaching at the same day and time to share a classroom, which each would use while the other met with students remotely in a week-together, week-apart modality.
  • For courses that are mostly remote and asynchronous, the classroom assignment can be removed altogether.
  • For remote and synchronous courses, W&M will work with departments to find spaces that can accommodate receiving synchronous video from remote instructors. These sections will need TAs or other staff to handle technology. Some support will be available from the Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation. If no classroom is needed because students will receive the synchronous instruction remotely, faculty will inform their schools during the planning process.
Course Delivery

All courses will be 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 will be “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.

The Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation developed an online course to guide faculty through blended teaching and learning strategies useful in flexible course design. Participants will work with others teaching in a similar modality and identify creative solutions to instructional challenges. The studio also anticipates training student partners to support faculty members by developing educational media, facilitating synchronous Zoom sessions and troubleshooting issues with asynchronous teaching approaches.

Led by the deans, each school will choose in-person and blended strategies, including but not limited to these options:

  • Blended course design provides flexibility for faculty and students with both face-to-face and online learning experiences. Designing a course in this modality makes shifting to remote teaching more seamless for faculty and students, if necessary.
  • Modular design allows faculty to prepare syllabus blocks of varying length for in-person and remote delivery. Under this model, only one block would be delivered at a time, but the class would have the option to switch modes if conditions rapidly require it.
  • Split attendance allows only one cohort of a course’s students to attend in-person, with the remaining students participating online. Cohorts rotate throughout the semester, allowing all students the opportunity to have in-person instruction.
  • Date and time adjustments add class meetings to evenings and Saturdays, so that all cohorts of a class meet in-person each time.
  • Partner teaching has faculty members supporting each other in courses with traditionally larger enrollments. In addition to mixing in-person and remote delivery as appropriate, partner teaching provides further flexibility to faculty members’ changing personal or health circumstances.
Credit hours in shortened semester

Because the semester has been shortened by a week of instruction, an additional 50 minutes’ worth of instruction per contact hour must be added. This can be scheduled as one or more additional in-person meetings or as technology-delivered content; any additional meeting dates and content must be listed on the course syllabus. Some examples for a three-credit course are listed:

  • Adding a single three-hour (150 minutes) session on a Saturday morning or a Tuesday evening.
  • Holding three 50-minute sessions, perhaps one each month.
  • Making available three hours’ worth of recorded lectures or other content through an approved learning management system.
Wellness in the Classroom

William & Mary is exploring a number of 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 will continue to emphasize remote work to the maximum extent possible this fall, we will be increasing in-person work for employees. This will be combined with adaptations to our physical plant and workplace practices that protect community health. Consistent with CDC and VDH guidelines for workplaces, we will systematically rearrange the physical environment to provide for physical distancing, install plexiglass barriers and signage, require appropriate personal protective equipment of employees — and provide ample opportunities for manager training and employee feedback. Under the supervision of Cabinet members and Human Resources, specific plans for each department or unit were developed and shared by managers the week of July 20.

William & Mary has developed a testing protocol in partnership with the VCU Health System that requires students to test for COVID-19 before arriving on campus, and provides employees optional testing services partially subsidized by the university.

W&M has also developed a a module within the W&M Mobile app allowing users to check for COVID-19 symptoms daily. Symptomatic students may be tested and treated through the Student Health Center. At-will COVID-19 testing will be offered to students and employees as they leave at semester's end.

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COVID-19 Testing for Students and Employees

In partnership with peers in the commonwealth, William & Mary is developing 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, will help William & Mary identify and control outbreaks.

William & Mary has developed a testing protocol in partnership with the VCU Health System that requires students to test for COVID-19 before arriving on campus, and  provides employees optional testing services partially subsidized by the university. 

W&M has also developed a a module within the W&M Mobile app allowing users to check for COVID-19 symptoms daily. Symptomatic students may be tested and treated through the Student Health Center. At-will COVID-19 testing will be offered to students and employees as they leave at semester's end.

All students are required to test for COVID-19 before the fall semester. Students received a self-administered, mail-in test kit prior to coming to campus. Test kits arrived in time for students to self-administer the test, mail it back along with the required consent form and get test results before they are due to arrive on campus. International Students received specific testing instructions in early August.

Community members who test positive for COVID-19 must self-isolate at home or off campus until they have a confirmed negative test. Students who test positive will be mailed a retest approximately 10 days following the initial positive result.

Prevalence testing (initial sampling of 5% of the student body and 2% of the employee/contractor population) will occur at least every two weeks. Testing frequency and population percentage will evolve based on campus trends and available testing methods.

Students who experience symptoms over the course of the semester should make an appointment with the Student Health Center for a clinical assessment and testing if necessary. The Student Health Center will provide instructions on necessary next steps.

William & Mary employees will have access to voluntary, at-will testing through the VCUHS for a $15 out-of-pocket copayment, with the university covering the balance. This is in addition to physician-ordered tests, which are covered under W&M’s medical plans. 

Employees or contract workers with positions that cannot maintain physical distancing, or where other work modifications to reduce virus spread are infeasible and impractical, will be tested prior to working with students. These employees were contacted in early August with instructions for testing before students returned to campus. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 will be expected to isolate and retest with a negative result before returning to work.

W&M is part of an active effort to partner with the Commonwealth on a testing network anchored in our three Virginia university medical centers: Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Virginia and Virginia Tech. Our testing and other public health protocols are based on ongoing epidemiological modeling with those centers.

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

Core On-Campus Functions

William & Mary’s primary goal is to continue providing students an exceptional experience adapted to the realities of operating in the midst of a pandemic. Many core functions require direct contact with students and employees returning to campus to support those interactions. At minimum, core functions may include:

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

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

Remote Work

For areas that don’t require on-campus work, W&M will continue to encourage employees to work remotely through December 31, 2020. Approval for W&M’s remote work policies have been temporarily expedited to enable remote work as determined by Cabinet members through the end of the calendar year. 

Individual Circumstances

An employee’s individual circumstances, such as child or elder care or medical condition, may require adjustments to their work schedules or modes of work. Faculty and staff should notify their department head if they have concerns about being able to work in the mode (on campus, remotely or a mix) designated in their department’s plan. The department head will coordinate with Human Resources and the appropriate Cabinet member, who will review the department plan and functional need in the employee’s domain of work.

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

A clear, fair and consistent policy regarding expectations of faculty presence on campus for in-person teaching is being developed by the provost in consultation with the deans, Human Resources, Office of Diversity & Inclusion and Faculty Assembly.

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 will provide cleaning materials. Masks are required in all public or communal spaces, including classrooms. Students will be responsible for cleaning class desk space before and after use.

Employees are asked to take their personal trash to a public space for disposal, which will protect custodial staff from needing to enter individual offices and facilitate more frequent cleaning of public, high-touch areas. Employees are advised to partner with Facilities Management for physical adjustments to public-facing areas and areas where physical distancing can not 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 will require 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.

Individual Responsibilities

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

  • Mandatory participation in COVID-19 training
  • Participation in W&M's prevalence testing program
  • Maintaining proper hygiene
  • Self-monitoring of symptoms
  • Reporting if experiencing symptoms or directed to quarantine
  • Wearing mask in classrooms, in public and other designated spaces
  • Maintaining appropriate distance from students and colleagues
  • Cleaning personal work spaces routinely to reduce transmission and allow housekeeping staff to focus on more intensive cleaning of public spaces
  • Complying with additional guidelines as stipulated by the university, state or federal government

The university is providing each employee with a wellness kit that includes face masks, hand sanitizer and wipes, plus additional cleaning supplies for individual work spaces.

Events & Travel

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. Current guidance limits indoor and outdoor campus gatherings to 50 people, so long as physical distancing can be maintained. External events and those with visitors should be converted to virtual gatherings. Exceptions will include a small set of university traditions, as approved by the President’s Executive Leadership Team.

Campus remains closed to the public. For fall 2020, use of space is dedicated to core mission activities – teaching, learning, research, student groups and activities – and restricted to the campus community.

No university-sponsored travel will take place this fall unless required to meet obligations of externally sponsored research or state scientific advisory services.

Commencement
Our goal is to host a grand celebration in May 2021 for the Class of 2020, with all the joy and the cherished traditions that make W&M Commencements special. We are considering the optimal timing, keeping in mind that the Classes of 2020 and 2021 will each have their own ceremonies and celebrations. The university will announce exact dates in a few weeks so families can plan accordingly. Detailed information about the schedule of Commencement events will be shared early in the spring semester.

Health & Safety

While on campus, all members of the W&M community are expected to commit to specific safeguards for one another’s health. 

Masks are required in all public or communal spaces, including classrooms. William & Mary is providing wellness kits to employees as they return to campus. These kits include cloth masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes. Hand sanitation stations are placed across campus. COVID-19 training is mandatory.

Many W&M employees working remotely are encouraged to continue through December 31, 2020. Extending remote work into the fall as the norm for employees whenever possible is one step in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Realizing that more staff will return to campus along with our students, supervisors will determine the flexibility for units and individuals to work remotely as the campus reopens. For those required to work on campus, options for alternative work schedules and physical distancing within the workplace will be deployed where appropriate.

William & Mary has developed a testing protocol in partnership with the VCU Health System that requires students to test for COVID-19 before arriving on campus, and provides employees optional testing services partially subsidized by the university.

W&M has also developed a a module within the W&M Mobile app allowing users to check for COVID-19 symptoms daily. Symptomatic students may be tested and treated through the Student Health Center. At-will COVID-19 testing will be offered to students and employees as they leave at semester's end.

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

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

William & Mary employees will have access to voluntary, at-will testing through the VCUHS for a $15 out-of-pocket copayment, with the university covering the balance. This is in addition to physician-ordered tests, which are covered under W&M’s medical plans. 

Employees or contract workers with positions that cannot maintain physical distancing, or where other work modifications to reduce virus spread are infeasible and impractical, will be tested prior to working with students. These employees were contacted in early August with instructions for testing before students returned to campus. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 will be expected to isolate and retest with a negative result before returning to work.

Prevalence testing (initial sampling of 5% of the student body and 2% of the employee/contractor population) will occur at least every two weeks. Testing frequency and population percentage will evolve based on campus trends and available testing methods.

Employees who belong to a more vulnerable group and have concerns about returning to work should first talk with their supervisors. Additional guidance for such cases will be forthcoming from Human Resources.

All employees should continue to monitor their own health. Do not come to work if you are sick, have COVID-like symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who may have the virus. If this is the case, tell your supervisor and contact a healthcare professional.

William & Mary is coordinating the COVID-19 response with leaders in the City of Williamsburg and Virginia Department of Health, and we are following public health guidelines (pdf) for university reopening. As public health officials improve our understanding of how to safeguard communities while returning to in-person life and work, we will evolve our practices.

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

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 McLeod Tyler Wellness Center website.