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 challenges during the fall's compressed semester, William & Mary is not shortening Spring 2021 and has 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 offers individual spring break days in 2021, rather than a consecutive, five-day break. On these spring break days, classes will not meet and no due dates for assignments or exams will be scheduled.
For undergraduates, there will be six spring break days:
Graduate schools are 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.
An enhanced summer experience will be offered for undergraduate students. Summer 2021 will include courses that complement and expand our current programs and offerings, unique programs that can be completed during the summer, such as the new Jump Start Data Science Program and Mason's Summer Business Institute, and broader co-curricular activities.
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.
COVID-19 Testing for Students and Employees
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.
William & Mary 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. Visit COVID-19 Testing for more information. Additionally, the W&M Mobile app allows users to check for COVID-19 symptoms daily.
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 public or communal 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 will automatically extend beyond December 31, 2020, for the spring semester, unless modified by a member of Cabinet.
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
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.