Tuesday, Sept. 7, the College of William and Mary reinstituted policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after more than 100 students tested positive for the virus within a week of the start of classes.
These new regulations were communicated to students through an email from Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director for the College Amy Sebring. At the same time, the College’s COVID-19 dashboard was updated to indicate 107 active positive cases of the virus among students. This was an increase from the 11 active positives on Friday, Sept. 3. The email said the College believes most student cases to be a result of large, off-campus social gatherings where masks were not worn.
The College is instituting three main changes to the current COVID mitigation plan, which will remain in effect for two weeks while the College administration monitors case levels. Students, faculty, staff and visitors on campus are now required to wear masks outdoors unless they are eating, drinking or can maintain a physical distance of six feet. Additionally, beginning the morning of Sept. 8, all dining locations will suspend indoor seating, and opt for only to-go options. The College is also encouraging student organizations to not meet indoors and to rather meet in outdoor locations or utilize virtual meeting options. The increase in COVID cases already caused the first week of Panhellenic Sorority Recruitment activities to be moved to an entirely virtual format.
The College is not currently offering quarantine housing to students as they did in Richmond Hall in the 2020-2021 academic year. Per the current guidelines from the College, students who test positive must isolate for 10 days off-campus by following their emergency evacuation plan. Students also have the option to stay in a hotel off campus, and there are currently fewer than ten students who are isolating in local Williamsburg hotels.
The communication sent to students did not mention whether the 2021 Opening Convocation will still take place on Sept. 8. Convocation is expected to be attended by the majority of the Classes of 2025 and 2024, and it has previously been announced that masks would be required at this event due to a large number of expected attendees. Masks have also been required for all attendees at the College’s first home football game of the 2021 season against Lafayette on Saturday, Sept. 11.