Student Policies

Williams' COVID-19 vaccine requirements for students and for faculty and staff are designed to help us safely provide the core aspects of a Williams education: in-person learning, chances to socialize with friends and classmates, and opportunities to engage with your local community and the world.

Unfortunately, vaccination is not a panacea. We may need to shift our plans or policies in response to emerging concerns. If a change is necessary the college will let you know promptly and explain our reasons.

  • To inform our pandemic measures, the college monitors guidance from the CDC, state officials and our local health board, and consults with national public health experts. Please understand that we may need to shift to more restrictive policies for public health reasons at any time.

    As was the case last year, the college can and will take steps to create a safe environment. But no one can guarantee a risk-free campus. Students need to also take steps to protect your own health and safety.

    By enrolling at Williams, you have agreed that you will do your part, avoid endangering yourself or others and comply with the college’s rules and protective measures. As a reminder, all enrolled students have signed the Public Health Commitment and Acknowledgement attesting to this promise.

  • If you have already communicated about your positive result with Dean Sandstrom or Health Center Staff, please follow the directions provided to you.

    If you have not yet communicated with anyone about a positive test result obtained before returning to campus, please contact Sue Gaskell for guidance.

  • Get your first PCR test as soon as possible after you arrive on campus. Following that test, you should remain quarantined in your room until you receive a negative result.  During the time that you are waiting for your first test result, you can leave your room only to pick up to-go food from the dining halls and to spend time outside.  You should be completely masked when you leave your room, and you are not able to enter any other indoor locations.

    After you have received 1 negative test result, you are permitted to go into other indoor spaces (including classrooms), completely masked at all times. Please, don’t go to class in person if you’re feeling unwell in any way.

    Schedule your second arrival test 72 hours after your first. If you can accomplish this within the available hours at the campus testing site (Mon-Thurs from 9-4), please do so. If doing so would require you to wait for additional days beyond the 72-hour requirement, then you may schedule your tests 48 hours apart, instead. You may do this on the honor system: no formal request is required. Note that 48 hours is the minimum acceptable window between arrival tests.

    After you have received 2 negative tests, you may unmask in your own private common room if you live in a suite with an assigned common room attached.  Note:  this does not apply to common rooms that are not specifically assigned to suites. You must remain masked in all other indoor locations.

    Testing will be available Monday – Thursday from 9 am to 4 pm each day. Be sure to sign up for your Monday – Thursday testing appointments via CoVerified

    As noted in Dean Sandstrom’s letter of December 21, following arrival and for the foreseeable future, students will be required to test twice a week. Details on this process will follow.

    • You’ll be assigned to isolation or quarantine room. Once there you’ll be given an antigen (rapid) test on Day 5. If your result is negative you’ll be allowed to attend classes on Day 6. You’ll still have to adhere to strict masking requirements and take your meals to go until Day 11. If your Day 5 rapid test is positive, you’ll stay in isolation through Day 10 and will move back to your regular status on Day 11 instead.
    • If you live in a single room and test positive you will isolate in your current room.

    • If you live in a double and test positive you will relocate to a designated isolation room until you are medically cleared to return.

    • If you are the roommate of someone who tests positive, but you continue to test negative, you will stay in your current room.

    • If you and your roommate test positive at the same time, you will isolate together in your current room.

    Students who test positive and can get home via a personal vehicle may work with Health Services to determine whether you can complete isolation at home. Please speak with a Health staff member before leaving campus.

    • We have designated bathrooms in each building for use only by people who are isolating in place. These are prominently marked with signs, and are meant to minimize interaction and the risk of spread. The signs also indicate the times when those bathrooms will be cleaned, and there are cleaning caddies available for in-between use.

    • During isolation you will pick up your own takeout meals from the Dodd House dining room. The kitchen will be open for meal pickup between 11:30 AM and 1:30 PM daily. You will pick up your lunch and dinner at the same time, as well breakfast items for the next morning. Masking is required throughout the pickup process: Please wear the KN95 mask that has been provided to you in a kit from the Health Center when you isolated.

    • Students who develop serious symptoms will be provided with alternate meal arrangements.

    • Students who are isolating at the Williams Inn will receive meal deliveries and do not need to pick up your meals at Dodd.

    • The Student Health Services team will stay in regular contact with you to monitor your health, and will also explain the criteria for release from isolation.

    • Your professors can help you make arrangements to stay on track academically during your absence from the classroom. If you have to miss classes or assignments please contact them as soon as you can.

  • The Health Center will contact you if you have been identified as a close contact. You will be considered a close contact if you have spent 15 minutes or more (cumulatively within 24 hours) within six feet of a known positive, regardless of whether or not you were masked at the time.

    If you are a close contact who has been vaccinated, then you will not need to enter quarantine. You will remain in your original room, but will have to follow strict masking guidelines and take your meals to go for ten days. Vaccinated close contacts who are asymptomatic will not be provided with antigen tests; they will continue with the twice a week PCR testing schedule, and will be moved to isolation space if they test positive.

    If you are a close contact who has been provided a vaccination exemption or is significantly immunocompromised, then you will be required to move into a designated quarantine room. In this case you will be tested with a PCR test on Day 5. If the test is negative, you will be allowed to go back to your original room, but will have to adhere to strict masking requirements and take all meals to-go until Day 11.

  • Do not test go to the college testing site. You should immediately contact the Health Center so they can arrange a test in safe circumstances.

    In vaccinated people, the Delta and Omicron variants can cause a sore throat, congestion, sniffles and other upper respiratory symptoms. This means they can easily be confused for a common cold. So please, do not take chances by assuming you have a cold: if you develop symptoms, put on a mask right away and contact the Health Center immediately to arrange a test. Please avoid in-person interactions until you have been tested and know the results.

  • All members of our community should be boosted by February 1. However, if you are eligible, please schedule a booster shot as soon as possible. To facilitate booster access to the Williams community, we will offer another all-campus booster clinic the morning of January 14. Southwestern Vermont Health Center in Bennington, VT, is also offering walk-in and scheduled appointments. See the SVMC registration site for details.

    If you have received the booster already, please upload your information as soon to your Ephs Patient Portal.

    • Log into the portal using your Williams username (email address not including the e.g., ezw21) and password
    • Select the “Upload” tab and from the dropdown menu
    • Choose “COVID Test Result”
    • Then proceed with the upload

  • As you finish quarantine you will immediately begin your routine twice weekly testing. Beginning the week of January 10, 2022 students must observe the following testing protocol regardless of vaccination status:

    Students with last names beginning with A through L will test every Monday and Wednesday
    Students with last names beginning with M through Z will test every Tuesday and Thursday

    Since all campus test sites will be closed on Martin Luther King, Jr., Day, for the week of January 17 all students should test on Tuesday and Thursday. If you’re usually a Monday-Wednesday tester, please ignore any automated reminders on Monday. Starting the following Monday, January 24, you’ll return to your usual schedule.

    We recognize that students' schedules may not align perfectly with these assigned testing dates. You may opt to test different dates if absolutely necessary, but please be aware that you will still receive reminders to test on your originally assigned dates - the reminder system cannot be adjusted. We also understand that occasionally missed tests will happen. If you do miss your assigned day please test on the next available day (for Thursday tests this is Monday), then return immediately to your regularly scheduled days. All testing will take place at Greylock Hall 2nd floor (please note the new location), and all appointments should continue to be scheduled through the CoVerified app.

    Please note that students who will not be on campus for some or all of Winter Study due to participation in 99’s, internships, thesis, or travel courses should email Cyndi Haley so you can be removed from the testing schedule when not on campus. This is NOT the same as switching to remote in CoVerified, so please contact Ms. Haley if you will not be on campus.

  • As of 1/3/22, you must mask in all indoor locations until we successfully navigate the Omicron surge. If you have to move into isolation then the college will provide you with appropriate masks.

    • Wear a KN95 mask or else double-mask: We recommend KN95 masks if possible. As an alternative, you can double-mask by combining a cloth mask with a surgical mask under it. Note that a cloth mask alone won’t stop the virus. See the CDC’s Masking website for more information. (We don’t currently recommend the use of N95s. Despite the similarity in names, they’re designed for more specialized uses than the KN95s.)
    • Stay masked indoors: It’s a rule, except when you’re in your dorm room with the door closed. You can unmask while in the shower.
    • Don’t assume that an empty room is therefore virus-free. We don’t know who was in there before you, and the virus can hang around in the air for quite a while. Our masking rules are meant to protect you against such unknowns, among other things.
    • Wear your mask while socializing outside, too. Omicron is so contagious that being outside doesn’t offer as much protection as it did against other variants (outside is still better than inside, though!). We suggest—and it’s a suggestion—that you stay masked even outdoors if you’re within six feet of others.
    • If you see someone else not wearing a mask, or not wearing it properly, please offer them a friendly reminder.

  • Given the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, it is unwise to gather in large groups, even while masked.  For now, you should limit your gatherings to very small groups and remain masked at all times.  The only places where students can be unmasked are in their own bedrooms (alone) and with suitemates in small common rooms that are explicitly assigned to their suite. See these details for RSO gatherings.

  • We ask you to keep travel to a minimum to protect yourself and the community. Berkshire County has had a relatively low rate of COVID compared to elsewhere in the state and country. So leaving the county likely increases your risk of exposure.

    If you’re on campus during Winter Study and thinking about whether to take a trip before Spring Semester starts, just know that you’d then have to re-quarantine when you returned. Whereas if you stay on campus during that interim period you’ll just continue to test in the campus program, but won’t have to re-isolate before the new term starts.

    For public health reasons, any student who travels outside Berkshire County must:

    Before leaving campus

    • Complete a travel form
    • Notify roommates or suitemates that you will be traveling outside the county
    • If you will miss a required Covid test during your trip, change your CoVerified setting to "Go Remote": this will ensure that you are not flagged as skipping a test. If you have a Covid vaccine exemption and will miss a test, you must also inform the Health Center directly.

    During your trip

    After you return

    • Get tested ASAP
      • If you were out of the county for four or fewer days, you must test 1-2 days after returning to campus and again 72 hours later (or as close as possible, given hours at the testing site)
      • If you were out of the county for more than four days, you must test immediately after returning to campus and again 72 hours later (or as close as possible given hours at the testing site)
    • Wear a mask everywhere indoors (including residence halls, except your own bedroom) until you receive two negative tests 72 hours apart
    • Eat all meals outside the dining halls until you receive the two negative test results. Before that, you may not eat or unmask in the dining halls.

  • Off-campus guests not enrolled at Williams may not enter any residence hall unless the college has granted an exception.

  • All meals will continue to be take-out only during the week of January 9 through January 16. Seating areas in the dining halls will be closed. If you haven’t informed Dining Services of your allergies or dietary restrictions yet, please do so right away. This will protect you in case you test positive and need to have meals delivered to you in quarantine.

    Please see the Dining website for more information.