Health & Safety

As William & Mary phases back into open campus operations, the health and safety of our community remain top priorities. The university is developing these guidelines and resources to facilitate a safe and healthy return to campus. 

William & Mary is also collaborating with Virginia’s health and education departments, and aligning plans with the governor’s (pdf) and City of Williamsburg’s phased reopening plans. Increasingly detailed health and safety measures for students, faculty and staff, and alumni and friends will be updated over the summer.

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.

Shared Commitment to Health

Each member of the W&M community shares a responsibility to the health and safety of us all, and will be asked to commit to specific safeguards currently being developed to protect one another’s health, including wearing face coverings indoors and in shared spaces. Students, faculty and staff will be expected to self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, stay home or out of class when sick, maintain physical distance in public spaces and follow other basic hygiene practices. The university will provide each person with a personal protective equipment kit, while classroom, learning and other university spaces will be modified to help protect the health of the community. A new student orientation will emphasize a community-wide commitment to promoting health and mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19. Online training may also be required to support this effort.

Wellness Kits

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

Tracking, Testing, Tracing

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 is developing a testing program that will likely require students be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, and will allow employees to take advantage of optional testing services partially subsidized by the university. W&M will also provide a symptom-tracking app to community members that will issue a daily prompt to assess symptoms. Symptomatic students may be tested and treated through the Student Health Center. Finally, at-will COVID-19 testing will be offered to students as they leave at semester’s end.

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.

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 is installing 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. Campus remains closed to the public through July 31.
  • Wearing a cloth face covering 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.
Physical Distancing

William & Mary is adjusting 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 telework as the norm where possible and adding options for alternative work schedules
  • Forgoing university-sponsored travel unless required to meet obligations of externally sponsored research or state scientific advisory services
Enhanced Cleaning & Disinfection

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

  • Disinfecting high contact areas
  • Reducing self-service stations
  • Adopting touch-free technology payments in dining halls
  • Installing 200 hand sanitizer stations in high-traffic areas
Wellness in the Classroom

William & Mary is configuring classrooms, seminar rooms and lecture halls, as well as some traditionally non-instructional or outdoor areas, to place at least six 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 will be supported by an increased cleaning regiment 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.

Quarantine and Isolation

William & Mary is developing 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 will be expected to self-quarantine for eight days. Students arriving from international locations may have additional CDC requirements (current guidelines call for 14 days).

Symptomatic students may be tested and treated through the Student Health Center. For residential students who test positive for COVID-19, separate housing for quarantine and isolation will be made available in Richmond Hall. William & Mary is planning to provide course flexibility that will allow students to continue classwork remotely, as feasible and appropriate. Active cases within the student population will be 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 test negative. 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 fall.

Newly admitted undergraduates, both first-year and transfer, are advised to contact Undergraduate Admission. Returning undergraduate students seeking a leave of absence for the fall 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. Additional guidance for such cases will be forthcoming from Human Resources.