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Health & Safety

The health and safety of our community remain top priorities at William & Mary. The university has developed guidelines and resources to facilitate a safe return to campus.

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Basic Safety Precautions

William & Mary is encouraging community members to follow physical distancing and health safety guidelines recommended by the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on campus:

  • Monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Not attending work, class or gatherings if you are symptomatic, including recording a fever 100.4°F or above. W&M has installed touchless thermometers on campus.
  • Maintaining the smallest footprint possible by using the same or designated entry and exit doors, bathrooms, etc.
  • Practicing appropriate physical distancing measures, such as remaining at least six feet from others at all times and holding meetings remotely.
  • Wearing a mask in all shared areas of buildings, including classrooms. See the CDC guidelines for care and usage information.
  • Disinfecting personal areas such as phones, keyboards, desks and offices frequently.
  • For residential students, wearing a mask or, preferably, leaving the room when a W&M facilities worker enters.
Face Covering Requirements

The COVID-19 Response Team has provided guidance regarding the required use of face coverings on campus. Compliance with these requirements is mandatory.

W&M community members share why masking up to keep campus safe is important to them.General Requirements:
  • University requirements for face coverings apply to all faculty, staff, students, contract workers, vendors and others who are on William & Mary’s various campuses or enter university owned or leased buildings.
  • Indoor public spaces: When in a facility, everyone should wear a face covering over the nose and mouth including building entry areas, classrooms and labs, libraries, conference rooms, hallways, elevators, restrooms, lounges and other shared spaces that allow for public interaction or gathering. The ability to physically distance within a space does not eliminate the above requirements.
  • Outdoor spaces: face coverings may be removed only when an uninterrupted 6 foot distance can be maintained between you and other individuals for the continuous duration of an activity.
  • Face coverings include cloth or disposable masks. Face shields and plexiglass are additional, valuable aids but may not be used in lieu of masks. Exceptions to this requirement are only considered and approved by the W&M COVID-19 Response Team at [[COVIDResponse]].
  • William & Mary will continue to require face masks as COVID-19 vaccines are distributed. While the vaccines protect the inoculated individual, it is currently unclear whether they prevent the person from further spreading COVID-19.
If you are a student:
  • All general requirements stated above apply.
  • You are required to wear a face covering when in a classroom, lab or other instructional space. The exact type of face covering may vary depending on the instructional environment (e.g., a university-provided face shield may be required in a lab).
  • All requirements apply to both indoor and outdoor co-curricular activities and spaces.
  • You are not required to wear a face covering when in your room or suite in your residence hall.
  • You are required to wear a face covering when in university housing hallways, other shared spaces and hall baths (except when actively washing, brushing teeth, etc.).
If you are faculty, staff, contract worker, vendor or other:
  • All general requirements stated above apply.
  • Faculty and instructional support staff are required to wear a face covering in indoor or outdoor classrooms, labs and other instructional spaces. Face shields and plexiglass are additional, valuable aids but may not be used in lieu of masks. Exceptions to this requirement are only considered and approved by the W&M COVID-19 Response Team at [[COVIDResponse]].
  • Faculty and staff are not required to wear a face covering while in their private offices or work spaces where a physical distance of at least 6 feet can be maintained. Open-floor plans can be enhanced through the reconfiguration of space, installation of plexiglass barriers, etc.
  • Face coverings must be used when interaction with others precludes physical distancing, such as conferring with colleagues, advising students, etc.
  • Employees who move throughout buildings, including private office spaces, to perform their work (e.g. IT, maintenance, dining, library staff, etc.) must wear face coverings at all times.
  • Employees working in outdoor spaces are not required to wear face coverings as long as a 6 foot physical distance from others can be maintained continuously during their activity.
Wellness Kits

William & Mary provides wellness kits to students and employees as they return to campus. These kits include two reusable cloth masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes. William & Mary also provides face shields and sneeze guards as necessary.

Physical Distancing

View a gallery of the W&M community finding creative ways to stay healthy and flourish.William & Mary has adjusted learning, living and work spaces to promote physical distancing that will help prevent widespread infections:

  • Limiting occupancy of physical spaces, including classrooms, residence halls, break rooms and offices
  • Wearing face coverings in all public or communal spaces, including classrooms
  • Posting reminders where individuals may congregate, such as entrances, eating areas and check-out lines
  • Reconfiguring work spaces to promote appropriate distance or installing plexiglass shields for employee protection
  • Limiting in-person gatherings such as meetings, conferences and training
  • Inviting speakers to campus remotely
  • Reducing the amount of time people are together in person
  • Reducing and spacing dining seating, promoting take-away options
  • Installing sneeze guard protection at point-of-sale and point-of-service stations as needed
  • Extending remote work as the norm where possible and adding options for alternative work schedules
  • Forgoing university-sponsored travel unless essential or required to meet obligations of externally sponsored research or state scientific advisory services
  • For residential students, wearing a mask or, preferably, leaving the room when a W&M facilities worker enters.
Know Your Number

Know Your Number (pdf)Know Your Number (pdf) is a useful communication framework developed by Carrie Dolan, W&M Epidemiologist and Assistant Professor in Kinesiology & Health Sciences.

The framework allows people operating in the COVID-19 pandemic to gauge their comfort with risk and communicate that in a non-judgmental way. Used honestly and openly, it helps people communicate their own and respond to other’s needs. At William & Mary it is particularly crucial for roommates and housemates, colleagues working together in person and students sharing space on campus.

The number system categorizes risk from one to five, with one being the most conservative and five being the most lax. Dolan encourages W&M community members to think deeply about where they fall in that range and have honest conversations with each other about their risk number.

Tracking, Testing, Tracing

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


William & Mary developed a multi-faceted COVID-19 testing protocol in Fall 2020 in partnership with the VCU Health System that includes pre-arrival, census, prevalence, wastewater and exit testings. These protocols continue in Spring 2021.

Learn more about COVID-19 Testing at W&M


The Healthy Together module within the William & Mary Mobile App allows students, faculty and staff to check whether they have developed symptoms of COVID-19 and to evaluate whether their daily behaviors reflect their commitment to the community’s health. The module also features real-time information about current occupancy of campus spaces, including dining halls and Swem Library; a connection to check COVID-19 test results; the ability to implement individual evacuation plans; a link to COVIDWISE, Virginia’s anonymous COVID-19 exposure notification app and additional health and safety information.


William & Mary has partnered with the Virginia Department of Health on contact tracing, notifying people who are qualified close contacts of a community member who has tested positive for COVID-19. The university's COVID-19 case managers have been trained as contact tracers in partnership with VDH, reporting back to VDH and helping close contacts arrange for self-quarantine or isolation. The CDC defines close contacts as those who have been within 6 feet of an infected individual for at least 15 minutes cumulative over a period of 24 hours.


The Virginia Department of Health is coordinating the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in the Commonwealth. William & Mary is partnering with local health districts for vaccine plans for faculty, staff and students as they are developed. 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.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations

Enhanced Cleaning & Disinfection

William & Mary is implementing enhanced cleaning and disinfection to reduce the likelihood of widespread infection:

  • Frequent disinfection of high-contact areas
  • Nightly spraying/fogging of classrooms
  • Personal disinfecting supplies provided outside each classroom
  • Sneeze guards installed on counters, desks and podiums
  • Use of certified COVID-19-effective cleaners and sanitizers by custodians
  • More-frequent cleaning of restrooms and public spaces
  • Reduction of self-service stations
  • Adoption of touch-free payment systems in dining halls
  • More than 200 hand sanitizer stations throughout high-traffic areas and residence halls
Wellness in the Classroom

William & Mary has configured classrooms, seminar rooms and lecture halls, as well as some traditionally non-instructional or outdoor areas, to place at least 6 feet between each student and from the instructor. Face coverings are required in all public or communal spaces, including classrooms. In cases where physical distancing cannot be maintained (e.g., some lab activities), face shields or plexiglass barriers may be required as added protection for both students and faculty.

All of these efforts are supported by an increased cleaning protocol focused on individual responsibility for personal space and more extensive and frequent cleaning of public spaces by the university.

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.

COVID-19 Case Management

William & Mary has established a network of case managers to help members of the community navigate living, study and work following a positive COVID-19 test result or notification that you're a close contact, while protecting the individual’s privacy.

The first step is to complete the positive case form at

The form asks basic questions about whether you are a student, faculty or staff member or contractor as well as whether you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. It also asks the dates of your COVID-19 test and when you received results; or when you were informed you are a close contact of an infected individual. In addition, the form asks for basic information about any areas of campus you frequent, in order to rapidly deploy cleaning and disinfecting crews.

Shortly after you complete the Report COVID-19 form, a case manager will contact you. For students, case managers serve as the main point of contact throughout the isolation period, helping with the transition to isolation or quarantine housing as needed, and arranging for cleaning and disinfecting of campus spaces, among other assistance.

For employees, case managers help transition to remote work or leave, coordinate notification to departments and arrange cleaning and disinfecting, among other help.

The COVID-19 management form generates a case number (unrelated to student/employee 930 numbers) that will be used as an identifier internally to protect the privacy of the COVID-19-positive community member. William & Mary will not identify the names of people who have contracted COVID-19 publicly or to the greater campus community.

Quarantine and Isolation

For more information about quarantine and isolation housing at William & Mary, please visit the Case Management & Housing page.

William & Mary has developed plans to appropriately respond to COVID-19 infections within the community and to prevent widespread infection, including increasing the university's capacity to provide healthcare on campus.

Before arriving on campus, domestic students are expected to self-quarantine for eight days and are required to be tested for COVID-19. Students arriving from international locations have additional CDC requirements. Traveling to Williamsburg does not require a student to “reset” the quarantine clock upon arrival, as long as they quarantined for the appropriate time and practiced transmission prevention during travel.

Pre-arrival, 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 on or after January 26, the U.S. requires a negative test result prior to boarding an airplane headed to the U.S. 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. 

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.

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.

Symptomatic students are tested and treated through the Student Health Center; visit the resource page if you feel ill and suspect COVID-19. For residential students who test positive for COVID-19, separate housing for quarantine and isolation is available. William & Mary has provided course flexibility that will allow students to continue classwork remotely, as feasible and appropriate. Active cases within the student population are monitored through the Student Health Center under guidance from the medical director.

Employees who test positive for COVID-19 are expected to isolate at home until they are symptom-free and are cleared by a physician to return. W&M’s Office of Human Resources can advise employees about leave options, including public health leave, sick leave or annual leave.

For Those Unable to Return

William & Mary is committed to flexibility in accommodating students who are either unable to return to campus or have compelling reasons not to be on campus for the spring.

Newly admitted undergraduates, both first-year and transfer, are advised to contact Undergraduate Admission. Returning undergraduate students seeking a leave of absence should contact the Dean of Students Office. International students — especially those in countries affected by travel limitations — should explore immigration and possible local in-country study options through the Reves Center for International Studies. Graduate and professional students are encouraged to work directly with their schools or programs.

William & Mary understands that some faculty and staff members are more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. Employees who belong to a more vulnerable group and have concerns about returning to work should first talk with their supervisors. Return-to-work plans were approved during summer 2020 and will automatically extend through spring 2021 unless amended by a Cabinet member.

Healthy Together: A 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 our mission during this pandemic will require each member of the community, without exception — faculty, staff and students — 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.

By signing onto this Healthy Together Community Commitment, you affirm that you understand what is required in order to be physically present in our community this year and that you will fully comply. You also acknowledge that an inability or failure to comply with our Healthy Together Community Commitment may impact your ability to remain on campus and/or participate as a member of the William & Mary community. Accordingly, there will be consequences for non-compliance, for both employees and students.

Having affirmed Flourishing as a core institutional value, “we create conditions that ensure William & Mary will thrive for all time coming, and we empower those who live, learn, and work here to make choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life.” This value takes on even more meaning as we consider what it means for W&M and its people to flourish in the midst of a pandemic. We must each commit to doing our part to mitigate risk, in order to actively demonstrate our care for the physical and emotional well-being of others and to complete a successful year — together.

William & Mary is also collaborating with Virginia's health and education departments, and aligning plans with the governor's and City of Williamsburg's phased reopening plans. Increasingly detailed health and safety measures for students, faculty and staff, and alumni and friends have been published.

The Healthy Together Community Commitment

As a member of the W&M community I affirm that I will comply with all stated expectations for living, learning, gathering and working on campus and in the Williamsburg community.

  • By my actions, I will mitigate risk of transmitting COVID-19, including by wearing a mask, by observing an appropriate social distance from others, by washing my hands frequently, by participating in testing protocols, and by staying home when I am sick.
  • Through these actions, I will demonstrate care and concern for the physical and psychological well-being of others and create a supportive environment for hallmates, classmates, colleagues, teachers, students, staff members, neighbors and members of the wider Williamsburg community.
  • In committing to these actions, I will support W&M’s mission by making it possible for us to “convene great minds and hearts to meet the most pressing needs of our time.”

Students have an opportunity to review and affirm the Healthy Together Community Commitment through the Personal Information Questionnaire. Employees received a copy of the Healthy Together Community Commitment along with their PPE kits, and they have been asked to affirm the commitment as part of the required online COVID-19 training made available by Human Resources via Cornerstone.

The wellness and safety of our community are part of the governing themes guiding the university's return to campus. These themes also include flexibility, equity, collaboration, innovation and service.