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Health & Safety

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

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 in order to begin the 2020-21 academic year in-person and on campus, 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-related health and safety rules as articulated by university leadership generally, and the COVID-19 Planning 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. May we each commit to doing our part to mitigate risk, 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 will be updated over the summer.

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 will have an opportunity to review and affirm the Healthy Together Community Commitment through the Personal Information Questionnaire. Employees will receive a copy of the Healthy Together Community Commitment along with their PPE kits, and they will be asked to affirm the commitment as part of the required online COVID-19 training that will be 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.

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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 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 developed a Healthy Together module within the William & Mary Mobile app that 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 team is expanding the module to include real-time information about current occupancy of campus spaces, including dining halls and Swem Library; a connection to check your COVID-19 test results; the capacity to implement individual evacuation plans; a link to Virginia’s anonymous COVID-19 exposure notification app; and additional health and safety information.

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 will receive a self-administered, mail-in test kit prior to coming to campus. Test kits will arrive 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.

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 will be contacted by early August with instructions for testing before students return 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.

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 remote work 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 implementing 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 and are required to be tested for COVID-19. Students arriving from international locations may have additional CDC requirements (current guidelines call for 14 days). 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.

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.