Students & Families FAQ

Answers to these questions will be updated as more information becomes available. Check Daily Messages for news of significant updates and changes. We will note when details are not yet known or when decisions are still being made. If you have a question that’s not answered on these pages, please submit it for consideration via our comment form.

Select a topic area below to view answers to frequently asked questions, and use keywords or terms in the search bar to narrow your search. To ensure that you can find what you need, FAQs are organized by audience and by general topics. As a result, you will see the same question and answer multiple times throughout the site.


  • The college has conducted a comprehensive review of campus buildings and spaces. Engineers measured airflow rates and are upgrading the filters in our heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems to a MERV 13 rating or higher. Wherever possible, they’re also adjusting building automation settings to meet or exceed ventilation standards established by ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers. In enclosed spaces, windows should be kept open as much as possible. These moves will help us ensure sufficient air exchange and filtration for everyone’s safety.

    To align with this guidance, occupancy of dorm rooms will be limited to the students assigned to each room, and occupancy of enclosed offices will be limited to one person at a time. Departments are developing reopening work plans that include provisions for office schedules, remote work and other strategies that will reduce the need to share enclosed spaces.

    Added 8/13/2020
  • Please see this letter for full testing details, including locations and times, scheduling, the testing process, and receiving results.

    Testing Upon Arrival:
    Testing will occur at drop-off and is required before students can access their rooms. All students are required to wear a face covering while waiting for testing; the site is designed to allow 6 feet between individuals. Staff at the testing site will wear face coverings and protective gear.

    Students will be asked to complete a quick symptom check to confirm they are feeling well. Next, they will sanitize their hands and complete a brief registration, confirming their identity. They will be given a specimen bag with a sterile swab and a specimen tube labeled with their name and date of birth.

    Students will then perform their own swab under the observation of a trained staff member (Note: Students under 18 year old will have the swab performed by a trained staff member.)

    Williams has contracted with the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for our testing kits and processing. Williams will staff our testing site. The Broad test is a RT-PCR test that is a high throughput version of the CDC 2019-nCoV Realtime RT-PCR test. This test uses nasal swabs in the lower nasal cavity (anterior nares swabs) and differs from the more uncomfortable test involving a swab placed deeply into the upper nasal cavity (nasopharyngeal swabs).

    Ongoing Testing:
    Initially we plan to test students twice per week. We will evaluate our testing protocols as the semester moves forward and determine pace and schedule in response to an assessment of conditions on campus.

    Students will be sent a scheduling link for Snapappointments to make appointments. We ask that you please enter your name only once a week into a time slot, as we need to make sure we have room for everyone to be tested.

    Professional EMTs will be on site to witness each test; students under 18 years of age must have their tests administered by an on-site EMT. You must bring your Williams College ID to the testing site, you cannot be tested without it. You must blow your nose just prior to testing, as solid matter will interfere with the test’s accuracy. Tissues will be provided at the entrance to all testing sites; if you have not blown your nose right before coming to the testing site, you will be asked to step aside and blow your nose.

    Only people who are asymptomatic should come to a testing site. Faculty and staff who are experiencing symptoms of COVID need to contact their PCP, and students need to call the Health Center 413-597-2206.

    It is imperative that students stick to their assigned testing schedule. They may not miss their appointments. Any student who misses more than one test will not be able to remain on campus. Their enrollment status will immediately be changed from in-person to remote, and they will no longer have access to any campus buildings or resources.

    Our testing protocol relies on communication via students’ mobile devices. Students must update their mobile phone information in PeopleSoft. To do so, log into PeopleSoft → Williams Student → Student Records → Personal Details → Contact Details → Phone → Edit Phone. Students who do not have access to a mobile device, or who have an international mobile phone number, should contact Cyndi Haley as soon as possible to discuss an alternative plan for communication.

    Updated 8/12/2020
  • Covid-19 testing will be required for all students returning to campus. Tests will be administered upon arrival and then twice weekly throughout the rest of the in-person term. We’ve arranged with the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to provide testing via a minimally invasive, self-administered nasal swab, conducted under the observation of a trained professional. All testing will be free.

    More information about campus arrival and testing can be found on the Campus Life website.

    Updated 8/6/2020
  • All students received a copy of the Student Community Health Commitment on June 30. Every student must sign this commitment in the Housing Portal prior to initial testing and check-in. Please be sure to read this document carefully.

    We will hold all students accountable to our public health guidelines—this includes students living in our residence halls as well as students who are enrolled as in-person and living nearby, in off-campus housing. If we learn that students are not upholding our guidelines regarding face covering and social distancing, we will initiate a conversation with a dean. Any continued infractions will result in removal from campus. Students’ enrollment status will be changed from in-person to remote, and they will no longer have access to campus buildings or resources.

    Some health violations are so egregious that a single (first) violation will result in immediate removal from campus. These include but are not limited to: not following all rules of quarantine or isolation when required to do so by health professionals, not adhering to travel restrictions, inviting/hosting individuals who are not members of the Williams community onto campus, purposefully exposing others to or threatening others with the fear of contagion, or hosting/attending a gathering or party where the number of guests or social distance between guests violates the public health guidelines. This policy applies to both on- and off-campus residences. Both hosting and attending such gatherings pose untenable risk, and we cannot allow students who behave in these ways to remain on campus.

    In addition to removal from campus, repeated or egregious violations will likely result in formal disciplinary action. Please note that the list above is not exhaustive. We reserve the right to remove any student from campus if they violate our health guidelines and expose the community to risk.

    Updated 8/6/2020
  • Yes, students need to make an appointment. For the safety of all students and staff, the Health Center requires students to call the Health Center at 413-597-2206 to be pre-screened by a Registered Nurse (RN) for the appropriate care.

    Student Health and Wellness Services will be relying heavily on telemedicine for the fall semester. If a provider deems that the student needs to be seen face to face and that it is safe to do so, they will schedule an appointment for the student. Students requiring more significant care will be transported to a local urgent care or emergency room.

    Many appointments are available the same day or next day.

    Please see the Integrative Wellbeing Services website for more information on accessible services.

    Updated 7/1/2020
  • For more information on how to request permission for an emotional support animal, please contact the Office of Accessible Education or click here.

  • Yes, we will provide a process to request housing on campus in the event that a resurgence of Covid-19 requries us to evacuate the campus.

  • Updated July 27, 2020: Students enrolled in the Student Health Insurance Plan for the 2019-2020 academic year and who choose to take a personal leave from the college will be able to buy a continuation plan for health insurance coverage. The continuation plan will extend coverage through Jan. 31, 2021, and at a cost of $1,145.

    Please note that the premiums will be the student’s responsibility, and payment should be made directly to the broker, AJG Inc. The payment can be made through the portal when selecting coverage.

    Find more information about student health insurance for the 2020-2021 academic year on the Health and Wellness Services website.

    Updated 7/6/2020
  • In keeping with public health recommendations and state requirements, everyone will be required to wear a mask on campus, whenever we’re indoors (except when in a closed office or in one’s student pod) or within 6 feet of other people, even when outdoors.

    Masks must be either multiple-layer fabric face masks with a tight weave or paper surgical masks, and they must fully cover both your nose and mouth. Studies indicate that bandanas, neck gaiters and buffs, and exhalation valves don’t prevent droplet spread, so they are not allowed as substitutes.

    The college will distribute three reusable fabric face coverings to all students, faculty and staff working on campus. You’re welcome to augment these with your own personal masks, as long as they meet the standards noted above.

    Updated 8/13/2020
  • Upon arrival, students will be quarantined in their dorm rooms until they have received two negative Covid-19 tests. The initial quarantine could last a minimum of five to seven days. During this time, students may only leave their rooms to use the bathroom and to go to the testing site for their second test. All meals will be delivered into a central dorm location for pickup during quarantine.

    In addition to the initial in-room quarantine, students are required to remain on campus at least through September. This means that going to Stop and Shop, Walmart and other off-campus destinations—even within Berkshire County—are prohibited during this time, although students may exercise or hike outdoors in the surrounding area, with appropriate social distancing.

    Once the on-campus quarantine ends (if the health conditions permit), students will not be permitted to travel outside of Berkshire County for the duration of the fall semester. The only exceptions to this policy are medical or family emergencies. All travel outside the county must be cleared in advance by the Dean of the College and will likely require some level of quarantine upon return to campus. Students who travel without advanced permission will not be permitted to return to campus.

    Updated 8/6/2020
  • If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, call 911 (or 9-911 if calling from a campus phone).

    If you are experiencing an urgent psychological crisis, call Integrative Well-Being Services at 413-597-2353 and select option 2 to speak to the on-call clinician.

    You can also call Campus Safety at 413-597-4444 to be connected with crisis services.