Students & Families

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

Essential Information for Students - July 1, 2020

The well-being of the William & Mary community is paramount as we plan to return to campus in the fall. The university’s goal is to prioritize safety while offering as much in-person instruction as possible. To safeguard the health of our students, faculty, staff, alumni and the surrounding community, we are systematically adapting the physical campus, operations and curriculum. Every community member is responsible to one another, committing fully to honor these safeguards out of respect for our close community of learning and work. 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.

We are offering flexibility so the W&M community will have options in responding to their individual circumstances and no student’s path is interrupted. William & Mary emphasizes wellness, equity and community, focusing on the elements of learning, working and campus life that matter most. Student Affairs will follow up with students and families with detailed plans for returning to campus no later than July 1.

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. The university’s goal is to prioritize safety while offering as much in-person instruction as possible. 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 shift to three semesters for academic year 2020-2021: an accelerated fall semester, plus spring and summer semesters. We will have no fall break. The university’s goal is to prioritize safety while offering as much in-person instruction as possible.

The fall semester for undergraduates, Graduate Arts & Sciences, VIMS and School of Education will begin one week early on Aug. 19 and end before Thanksgiving. There will be no fall break. The last day of classes will be Nov. 13, and final exams will take place Nov. 16-24. Students will move out of residence halls Nov. 25. Grades are due Dec. 7. Additional program schedules will be announced soon.

Due to the compressed schedule, five extra instructional days will be added. Delivery options include Saturday, evening or online sessions. Each course syllabus will note how and when the extra sessions will be delivered.

Summer Semester

William & Mary will offer a summer semester as part of the 2020-2021 academic year so that both students and faculty may distribute their course loads in light of their individual circumstances and needs.

Summer semester 2021 will include courses not offered during fall or spring, complementing and expanding current programs and providing unique programs, such as the new Jump Start Data Science Program and the Summer Business Institute.

Each school will determine its summer courses, partnering with the provost to ensure that summer 2021 represents a comprehensive semester. More details will be announced in the spring.

In most cases, financial aid is intended to cover two semesters. For the 2020-2021 academic year, students may apply their aid to any two of the three available semesters (fall, spring and summer) as long as they maintain the enrollment level necessary to be eligible.

Learning Spaces

To protect the health of the William & Mary community, classrooms and learning spaces will be modified in the fall. Students, faculty and staff will be required to wear face coverings indoors and will be provided masks in a kit provided by William & Mary. Students will be responsible for cleaning class desk space before and after use.

Classes with fewer people may be held in larger spaces to maintain at least six feet between participants, while those with large numbers of students may be held remotely or in smaller groups. Hand sanitation stations will be placed across campus and new signage displayed. Classrooms and public spaces will be cleaned on an accelerated schedule, consistent with CDC and VDH guidelines. 

William & Mary is also planning to use non-traditional space for classes, including outdoor canopies, available conference rooms and the like. The university will also designate traffic patterns for the spaces, including entrances and exits, and may utilize real-time technology to track density on campus.

Course Delivery

Led by William & Mary’s deans, each school will choose in-person and blended strategies that support a resilient curriculum and offer flexibility reflecting W&M’s equity imperative — we provide options for community members with different health situations and changing family and financial circumstances. Faculty have been advised to prepare classes in a way that makes it possible to switch to full remote learning on short notice, in the event Virginia public health requires this.

Details of course delivery, including meeting times and remote aspects, will be designated in Banner and outlined in course syllabi. By July 15, courses will have been assigned attributes in Banner designating course delivery categories in the Open Course List. Not all courses will be available online. Students may need to adjust their schedules if they wish to take all of their courses remotely. No special permission is needed to take courses online. William & Mary is also developing a process for requesting alternate learning arrangements.

  • Blended course design provides flexibility for faculty and students as both face-to-face and online learning experiences are blended in course delivery. There are many variations of this model that include sections of varying length of synchronous and/or asynchronous remote instruction coupled with in-person experiences in the classroom. These course ease switching to remote teaching for both 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.
Banner Categories of Course Delivery

Faculty are assigning course delivery information to our fall classes in Banner. These categories will be added in Banner as class attributes by July 15. Visit the Registrar's Office for descriptions of high-level categories for course delivery:

  • FS: Predominantly face-to-face and predominantly synchronous
  • MIX: Blend of in-person instruction with expanded remote delivery of instructional material, content and activity
  • RA: Predominantly remote and predominantly asynchronous
  • RS: Predominantly remote and predominantly synchronous
Choosing Remote Instruction

By looking up course attributes in Banner, students will be able to craft a fully remote schedule for the fall semester if that is their preference. Not all courses will be available in a fully remote format, so students should seek academic guidance in advance to be sure selected courses support the student’s progress toward their degrees and majors.

W&M’s on-campus residency requirements notwithstanding, any freshman or sophomore student electing a fully-remote curriculum may be released from their campus housing contracts without penalty in order to reside at their permanent home address for the fall semester.

The following people are available for consultation and referral as needed:

  • Undergraduates: Shelly Laurenzo, Office of Academic Advising
  • Graduate School of A&S: Chasity Roberts, Assistant to the Dean
  • Graduate School of Education: Jim Barber for returning students, Dot Osborne for new students
  • Other graduate schools: Contact the school registrar
Student Accommodations

William & Mary students who need accessibility accommodations to fully participate in the fall semester, in campus housing, curricular offerings, or other areas, should contact the Office of Student Accessibility Services. Staff members in that office are experienced in supporting students who have accessibility needs, including students who are immunocompromised. We will work with students. and their faculty members as appropriate, to promote their success this fall.

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

To reconvene on campus with safety as a priority in the fall, the Path Forward addresses the realities of living and working together during the COVID-19 pandemic, including shifts to move-in, residence life, dining, establishing community on and off campus, reflecting our service ethic and looking past graduation. These shifts mirror our commitment to the William & Mary community and to each other’s health and well-being.

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. W&M is also installing touchless thermometers on campus. Symptomatic students may be tested and treated through the Student Health Center. At-will testing will be offered to students as they leave for the semester, as an additional precaution for their home communities.

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Self-Quarantine Before Arriving

All domestic students are expected to self-quarantine for eight days before arriving on-campus; students coming from international destinations must self-quarantine per CDC guidelines (currently 14 days). Quarantine may occur anywhere the student feels most comfortable, e.g. at home with family, at an apartment, at a hotel, etc. When traveling to Williamsburg, all students should practice prevention to mitigate risks of contracting COVID-19, such as wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance and washing hands often.

Campus Living

Residence Life is excited to share initial plans for welcoming students back to campus in August, and has started publishing details regarding move-in. Domestic students will be expected to self-quarantine for eight days before arriving. Students arriving from international locations may have additional guidelines specified by the CDC (current guidelines call for 14 days).

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.

Move-in will be a phased and scheduled process over several days to manage the density of individuals in each residence hall. New students are scheduled to move in Aug. 12-14, while returning students are scheduled for Aug. 15-18. It will necessarily be very different than you might have seen in the past, so please be prepared to adjust your plans and expectations accordingly.

At this time, W&M will be able to house all students who have completed a housing contract for 2020-2021. The university also has space reserved in Richmond Hall for isolation and quarantine if needed. Each student planning to live on campus will be required to sign an addendum to the housing contract that includes a Residence Life Health and Well-Being Pledge. Compliance with the expectations and commitments outlined in the contract addendum and pledge once students are on campus will be critical for the ongoing operation of the residence halls.

Living Spaces

W&M’s housing plan reduces residential density and establishes a number of community expectations targeting our shared responsibility of maintaining health and safety:

  • W&M will consider roommates, suitemates and apartment-mates to be Flexible Family Units.
  • W&M will set clear guidelines regarding sharing of bedrooms, bathrooms and other common living spaces.
  • W&M is increasing the distance from 30 miles to 60 miles for students who live locally and may wish to consider commuting from home.
  • W&M will hold space in Richmond Hall to address a potential need for quarantine or isolation housing. Active cases within the student population will be monitored through the Student Health Center under guidance from the medical director.
  • W&M is increasing cleaning in high-touch locations, such as bathrooms and doors.
Housing, Move-In and Orientation Details

All residential students received an email on June 17 from the Office of Residence Life outlining new expectations and policies for on-campus living during this upcoming semester. Please review the 2020-21 Resource Guide for more details. Confirmed move-in dates:

  • Aug 8-11: Returning Students Phase I
  • Aug 12-14: New Students
  • Aug 13-18:       Returning Students Phase II
  • New Student Housing Assignments will be available via the housing portal on July 8.
  • Student Affairs is managing returning student room change requests as quickly as possible. On-campus space is limited, so options for moves are few at this time.
  • On July 15, Student Affairs will email detailed plans for check-in and new student orientation.
  • Residence Hall check-in will take place by appointment. The process for making your check-in appointment will be shared on July 15. Students will receive a window of time during which they can log on and select a check-in appointment. This must be done in time slots, as the housing assignment system can only manage a specific number of people using it at a given time.
  • Students are advised to check their W&M email daily for updates and news.
  • Residential students will need to take good care of themselves and one another. Please read the Residence Life Resource Guide for changes to policies and expectations regarding managing in safe and healthy ways in our halls.
  • Freshman and sophomore students are still required to live on campus unless their permanent home address is within 60 miles of Williamsburg and they prefer to live at home and commute to classes on campus, or their fall coursework is fully remote and they wish to remain at their permanent home address.
  • Social class juniors, seniors and graduate students may request housing contract release without penalty.
Residential Quarantine or Isolation

Widespread and periodic testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic students will mean that at any given point in time, a number of William & Mary community members will be awaiting test results. Isolation of asymptomatic individuals awaiting test results is not recommended by public health authorities; they should continue the universal precautions and protocols that are expected of W&M’s community, remaining in their residences. In other words, asymptomatic students will await test results wherever they live.

Symptomatic individuals awaiting test results will need to self-quarantine, rather than remain in their assigned residence halls. Those students may choose temporary housing in Richmond Hall, which has been identified as suitable for isolation (with separate, exterior room doors, individual bathrooms, etc.) Students may also opt to return to their permanent homes or families as they await results.

Richmond Hall is also identified for housing any on-campus students with a positive Covid-19 diagnosis. Active cases within the student population will be monitored through the Student Health Center under guidance from the Center's medical director. Faculty will work with students isolating in Richmond Hall to ensure flexibility for completing course work. Meals will be delivered to students in isolation in Richmond Hall.

Student Accommodations

William & Mary students who need accessibility accommodations to fully participate in the fall semester, in campus housing, curricular offerings, or other areas, should contact the Office of Student Accessibility Services. Staff members in that office are experienced in supporting students who have accessibility needs, including students who are immunocompromised. We will work with students. and their faculty members as appropriate, to promote their success this fall.

New Student Orientation

William & Mary looks forward to welcoming all new students to campus in August. On July 15, Student Affairs will email detailed plans for check-in and new student orientation. In accordance with public health guidelines, William & Mary is adapting the orientation program and schedules. Undergraduate freshman and transfer students should watch for email updates and visit First Year Experience. A new student orientation will emphasize a community-wide commitment to promoting health and mitigating the risk of spreading Covid-19. New graduate students will receive communication from their schools and programs. We stand ready to help new students and families prepare for this exciting transition.

Dining

Meal plan registration for fall 2020 is now open. Students will be emailed more information about dining plans. Residential undergraduate students must select a meal plan by July 8 at 5 p.m. or will be automatically enrolled in the Gold 19 plan. Additional safety measures for Campus Dining were detailed in a recent message from the Covid-19 Team, and for more information on meal plans, visit www.wm.edu/dining.

William & Mary Dining is working closely with the university’s dining partner to follow restaurant guidelines administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health in the fall. Dining options may largely be take-away, with a reduction of self-service in the dining hall and adoption of touchless payment. Seating will be reduced or re-arranged in some dining areas, hours adjusted and food truck use increased but relocated to reduce gathering large numbers of community members at one time. Hand sanitation stations will be placed across campus and new signage displayed.

Athletics

William & Mary Athletics is working through several scenarios in order to welcome student-athletes back to campus as soon as we are able to under state and university guidelines. We are in the final stages of developing policies and procedures designed to promote the safety of our students, coaches, staff and fans, and allow us to return to training, practice and competition as soon as we are safely able to do so.

W&M Athletics is working in close coordination with the NCAA and CAA as we adjust  schedules to mitigate as much risk as possible while remaining committed to providing our student-athletes the best possible experience.

We will adhere to federal, state and university guidelines as we determine the capacity of our athletics venues and adjust policies and procedures related to ticketing, parking, tailgating and food & beverage service as necessary.

W&M Athletics will communicate broadly using TribeAthletics.com, social media channels, and directly through email with up-to-date information.

For Students 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.

Events & Campus Gatherings

The intentional work of creating community and cultivating deep human connections is front of mind for William & Mary. Campus events are a traditional building block of community; they will continue to be, albeit shifted in light of ongoing health needs in the community. Our campus has the ability to embrace and sustain the kinds of changes that learning together under pandemic will require. 

Gatherings
Campus gatherings, including university, school, department and student events and meetings will be subject to safety guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health and the governor of Virginia. Current guidance (pdf) limits campus gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, to 50% of a facility’s capacity or 50 people, whichever is less, so long as physical distancing can be maintained.

For the fall, events at William & Mary that can be postponed until the spring are advised to do so, as departments and groups focus on programs and activities supporting the teaching and research mission. Virtual gatherings, a blended model and multiple sessions expand options for gathering safely. Additionally, public access and programming is expected to be limited and seating assigned or ticketed. Campus remains closed to the public through July 31.

Traditions
We love our William & Mary traditions. We will continue to take a “joyful and different” approach to them, no matter what COVID-19 restrictions may require. Students at William & Mary in the fall will likely co-create new approaches to our traditions, adaptations which may carry forward for “all time coming.”

Our top priority for the Class of 2020 remains an in-person Commencement, with all the ritual, celebration and convening with friends that our graduates long for and deserve. Based on Virginia’s early summer projections, Oct. 9-11, 2020, falls within the governor’s loosening of in-person gatherings. If pandemic conditions prohibit convening in number, William & Mary has reserved alternate dates for May 23-25, 2021. William & Mary will make a final decision on the timing of Commencement 2020 by July 31.

William & Mary plans to celebrate winter graduates in November, before students leave campus. While not a formal cap-and-gown ceremony, our Winter Graduates event is an intimate and joyful ceremony that allows us each year to recognize and celebrate those students, graduate and undergraduate, who are completing degrees in the fall semester.

Family Weekend 2020 will be re-imagined as a fully virtual event over Sept. 25-27, 2020. Please check email, social media and the Family Weekend website as the summer progresses.

Invited Speakers
To minimize travel and further limit the spread of COVID-19, speakers invited to William & Mary in the fall will appear in a virtual format. This policy extends to speakers invited university-wide as well as those invited by a school, department, specific course or student group. 

Co-curricular Activities
W&M is committed to supporting student activities and co-curricular life as best we can under pandemic conditions. Student Affairs staff, together with student leaders, will develop guidelines for safe gatherings and meetings. There will be health and safety modifications to co-curricular life, just as to life in residence halls and in classroom and laboratory experiences. In the coming weeks, William & Mary will communicate additional details about what to expect this fall.

Athletics
William & Mary Athletics is in the final stages of developing policies and procedures designed to promote the safety of our students, coaches, staff and fans, and allow us to return to training, practice and competition as soon as we are safely able to do so.

W&M Athletics will adhere to federal, state and university guidelines as we determine the capacity of our athletics venues and adjust policies and procedures related to ticketing, parking, tailgating and food & beverage service as necessary. W&M Athletics will communicate broadly using TribeAthletics.com, social media channels, and directly through email with up-to-date information.

Calls to Service

A team at William & Mary dedicated to facilitating service projects for the Path Forward generated more than 130 ideas in a short time, reflecting how deeply rooted is a commitment to caring for others and our community at the university. The team identified projects that would have wide appeal to the entire W&M community, addressed needs of vulnerable populations, built on the university’s strengths and would have immediate, measurable impact. 

Community Commitment
All members of this community are expected to commit to specific safeguards for one another’s health. We will call each other in: to these shared commitments and to awareness of vulnerabilities that may be hard to see. Because we respect and value one another's different contributions to W&M’s mission, when we lapse, we will immediately correct our course with goodwill and renewed dedication.

Experiential Learning
William & Mary is pursuing experiential learning and service opportunities for every student. The university is developing an integrated program to address questions of inequity under pandemic. This includes a new credit-bearing (up to 3 credits), omnibus course, open to all schools, that will enable each student to engage in creative, pragmatic problem-solving for our community and region.

Immediate Service Opportunities

Opportunities in Development

  • An online platform to facilitate connections to service and experiential learning opportunities
  • Internships with local community organizations 
  • Pandemic adaptation service opportunities for our campus community and beyond, for example students training to be contact-tracers through the Virginia Department of Health and virtually by Johns Hopkins
  • Connecting W&M talent and resources to local community needs through expanded partnerships

Supporting Our City

  • Limit attendance to athletics and other campus events while adding virtual participation
  • Adjust visiting hours, suspending or converting programming at cultural and arts venues to virtual delivery
  • Aligning with city planning and guidelines
Career Pathways

William & Mary is acutely aware of the economic, social and health challenges facing students graduating into a landscape deeply affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic. In response, a planning team has been formed to accelerate success for our graduates. The team is working to elevate experiential learning for all students and promote design thinking over the course of a student’s life. Other ideas being pursued include a W&M professional development bootcamp and promoting a “One W&M” initiative that features the university’s talents, cultivates research opportunities and embraces lifelong learning.