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William & Mary releases plan for returning students and faculty

William & Mary will offer three semesters, fall, spring and summer, to provide maximum flexibility for students.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Some colleges and universities are physically bringing students back to campus this fall. That includes William & Mary.

On Thursday, city council members wanted to hear what steps the college is taking to protect the William & Mary community and greater Williamsburg community from the COVID-19 pandemic.

William & Mary shared its plan for returning students to Williamsburg for the fall semester.

Students have to self-quarantine for eight days before coming to Williamsburg. They also have to test negative for COVID-19 before returning to the city. 

During the semester, 5% of the student body and 2% of the faculty will be randomly selected for prevalence testing every two weeks.

On-campus students who test positive during the semester will be quarantined in single room settings. Off-campus students who test positive can quarantine at their residence, or return home. 

Faculty who test positive will be required to isolate at home until they are symptom-free and test negative. Testing will be available to all students and faculty at any time.

The entire W&M family (students and faculty) will be required to sign a “Community Commitment” that establishes normal practices for behaviors designed to minimize the continued spread of COVID-19. 

This Commitment will be applied to time spent on and off-campus, and all will be held accountable to its tenants.

Council members heard from the head of the COVID-19 planning effort for William & Mary, Sam Jones. Jones said the campus gave students kits with masks, sanitizer and wipes, and educational pamphlets.

City Council also adopted William & Mary's "Healthy Together," a community commitment establishing standard behaviors to protect the Williamsburg community from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Freshman, transfer, international and graduate students will be the only students in on-campus housing until after Labor Day. Student leaders, RAs and OAs began arriving over the weekend, but the bulk of those students started arriving Wednesday.

Move-in will be a phased process this year. Freshmen move-in, for instance, is being spread over three days and students are required to have a move-in time they pre-registered for. Classes start Aug. 19.

William Dracos is coming to William & Mary from Atlanta, where they have their own COVID-19 concerns. After a possible exposure to the coronavirus, a Georgia school district temporarily shut down one of its hardest-hit high schools.

“I'm excited, a little anxious,” Dracos said. “But I think people know to wear masks and stay away from others.”