College alters fall 2020 schedule, postpones in-person classes

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The College of William and Mary announced a revised fall 2020 semester schedule Friday, July 31, postponing the beginning of in-person classes as well as move-in for returning students. COURTESY PHOTO / WM.EDU

The afternoon of Friday, July 31, the College of William and Mary announced several updates concerning the university’s reopening plan in anticipation of the fall 2020 semester. In the wake of rising COVID-19 cases throughout the Hampton Roads region, which includes Williamsburg, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced new restrictions for gatherings and curfews in the area earlier this week.

College President Katherine Rowe sent out new information in an email to the campus community shortly after 5:30 p.m. Friday, announcing an updated extended move in plan and the postponement of in-person classes while also reiterating anticipated regulations for staff and students.

Most notably, the updated plan pushes back the start date of in-person classes and postpones move-in schedules for returning on-campus students until after Labor Day. Rowe’s announcement detailed that all online classes in both graduate and undergraduate courses will maintain their original start date of August 19, but that all classes designated as in-person will begin on September 4. The semester is still intended to conclude by November 25.

Due to the push-back in student move-in, the College will adjust the cost of room and board to reflect the semester’s abbreviated time frame. The plan described a continuing of phased move-ins that will begin in late August and early September. As of Friday evening, it is unclear when some returning students will specifically be permitted to come back to campus.

Students and returning members of the College’s community are still expected to quarantine for eight days before their arrival, and COVID-19 test kits are still being utilized to ensure that students do not return to campus if they receive a positive test result.

Along with these updates, Rowe emphasized the importance of students following new guidelines and restrictions in-place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and she referenced the need for all community members to abide by the ‘Healthy Together Community Commitment’. These commitment principles include obeying social distancing protocols, wearing face-masks and coverings, and following campus buildings and resident halls regulations. Disregard for these restrictions will be sanctions will be punished accordingly, with Rowe stating that a failure to abide by these rules may result in dismissal from campus.

This plan is among the College’s most recent efforts to prepare for an in-person fall 2020 semester, which was announced last month. Despite continuous difficulties seen in creating a safe and reasonable reopening plan, the university hopes to provide all students with positive learning experiences in the months to come.

In closing, Rowe described the College’s hopes to maintain a safe community as students begin to move in, and reminded everyone of the adjustments will have to make througout the semester ahead.

“Yet to fulfill our commitment to safeguarding the health of this community, it is imperative that we respond appropriately to changing pandemic conditions,” Rowe said in an email. “In this as in other respects, Fall 2020 will be very different at W&M. As we continue making decisions with the best information available, adjustments like the ones announced today will be part of the semester.”

This is a breaking story that may be updated. Last updated 9 p.m. Friday, July 31.