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William & Mary requiring masks to be worn on campus at all times

William & Mary sign
Posted at 7:24 AM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 07:24:45-04

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- After seeing an increase in reported cases of COVID-19 in students over the Labor Day weekend, William & Mary will require masks to be worn on campus at all times.

Masks must be worn both outdoors and indoors except when eating, drinking or physical distancing of at least six feet is possible. All campus dining will be to-go for at least the next two weeks, the university said.

As of Sept. 7, there were 107 active cases among students and three cases among employees. The university says everyone who tested positive reported mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.

William & Mary attributes the increase in cases to multiple social settings where people are unmasked. University officials added they have no evidence of spread within classrooms or administrative buildings.

Experts say COVID-19 doesn't spread in classroom settings when students and the instructor are vaccinated and are properly wearing masks.

University officials say they anticipated "a bubble of cases" once the semester started and say they have implemented steps to minimize the spread of the virus and protect the health and safety of the school's community.

Despite the increase in cases, William & Mary says they are not considering a move back to remote learning, with the exception of specific online courses. University officials say they "have a much better understanding of COVID-19" and that vaccinations have been highly effective.

Students who test positive for the virus must report their diagnosis at ReportCOVID.wm.edu so case managers can contact them with information about how to isolate themselves off campus for 10 days, continue their coursework and take the next steps.

While students and their families should plan for off-campus quarantine and housing this semester, William & Mary is providing a two-day hotel stay to "bridge the transition to their personal quarantine and isolation plan and funds to help students who need them." Officials say "very few" students who tested positive needed hotel stays.

After 10 days of isolation, COVID-19-positive students must be asymptomatic and cleared by a physician before they return to class and other group settings.

The university says they are seeing positive cases in both vaccinated and unvaccinated students. About 93% of students are fully vaccinated (96% if looking at students engaging in on-campus activity), and there have been only mild cases or asymptomatic positive cases.

In July, the university required students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of the fall semester.

Click here for more information on William & Mary's current cases.