UPDATE: Masks are no longer required outdoor as of September 21. In addition, dining will resume normal operations on September 23. Masks are still required indoors.
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Officials at William & Mary have implemented several temporary measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 among the student body.
The university continues to see a significant increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases among students. Officials say they currently have more than 100 active cases among students that appear to have been spread through unmasked social interactions.
In a message to students, school leaders acknowledged that 93% of their students and 90% of their employees are already fully vaccinated.
Currently, there are only three active cases among staff.
“This is the third semester in which William & Mary has offered in-person activities since the COVID-19 pandemic began, and we’ve seen a spike in cases at the beginning of each semester,” said Amy Sebring,
Chief Operating Officer and COVID-19 Director. “Swift action has resulted in those case numbers coming down, even as conditions continually shift. We remain confident that we have the tools to navigate this effectively.”
The university hosted a community conversation at 6 p.m. Thursday night about the updated policies. During the meeting, they discussed the new rules and remarked on how William & Mary students care about protecting the community, which is why so far they’ve seen success with students wearing masks.
10 On Your Side spoke to several students about the increase in COVID-19 cases on campus. A majority said the number of positive cases went up quickly.
“I checked the site again and it went up to like 120,” said freshman Alex Lichty. “I’m like ‘what in the world? Where did that come from?'”
School officials emphasize that there is no indication of spread in a classroom.
“We are not seeing any indication of spread inside our academic buildings or classrooms,” said Suzanne Clavet, William and Mary Director of News & Media. “The spread we are seeing is largely attributed to
students in unmasked social gatherings.”
Effective immediately, the following mitigation measures are in place for the next two weeks:
- Masks outdoors will be required for all students, faculty, staff and visitors on campus unless you are eating, drinking, or can maintain appropriate physical distancing of at least six feet. Masks are still not required in dorm rooms nor single-occupancy offices.
- All W&M dining will be “to go” dining for two weeks. Starting with breakfast tomorrow, dining at Sadler Dining Hall, Commons and Marketplace will be solely a to-go program, closing all indoor seating for two weeks beginning September 8, 2021. Meal Swipes can also be used in Sadler Express, Tribe Food Truck, Tribe Market and Student Xchange for a to-go meal. Retail dining locations will also offer to-go dining for two weeks.
- Student organizations will be encouraged to use virtual formats or outdoor settings for meetings and activities. Sorority recruitment has already been moved to an online format this week.
“Vaccination rates on campus are high and the vaccines are working in reducing the level of severity of cases,” added Sebring. “Masks remain an important line of defense, particularly with the delta variant.”
The mandatory indoor and outdoor masks rule also applies to athletics competitions and tailgating.
Classes will remain in-person.