Page last updated: 3/13/2020
There are no known cases of COVID-19 in the Williams campus community.
Williams College will end in-person classes on Friday, March 13, and dismiss students for spring break on Saturday, March 14, a week earlier than planned. We will be moving to remote learning beginning on Monday, April 6. Read the full update from President Maud Mandel.
For campus and family questions about coronavirus and changes to Williams’ spring semester, please use our comment portal or call 413-597-2111, Monday-Friday, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. EST. If you are calling outside of these hours, you may leave a voice message, and your call will be returned as soon as possible.
Common signs of COVID-19 infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. The that symptoms usually emerge 2-14 days after exposure. Cases in healthy individuals are often resolved by treatment similar to that recommended for the flu. Rarely, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome or kidney failure. Older people and individuals who are immune-compromised or have other health issues are considered at greater risk for severe effects.
The infection is most often to spread between people in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) via the respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby and be inhaled into their lungs. At this time, the CDC regards it as possible that a person could get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick yourself.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. If no tissue is available, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Try not to cough or sneeze into your hands, since you could then transmit the virus to anything you touch.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe. This includes cellphones and touchscreens.
- The CDC does not recommend wearing a facemask to protect yourself from COVID-19 if you are currently healthy. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19, to help prevent the spread of the disease. They are also essential for healthcare providers and other professionals who may come into close contact with infected individuals.
The CDC website has on prevention and treatment, including factsheets in English, simplified Chinese, and Spanish.
The odds of infection increase every time you come into contact with others. Travel is one potential vector, and the college recommends avoiding non-essential travel until the outbreak has subsided. See the section on travel on the FAQ page.
Because COVID-19 symptoms closely match those of the flu and other respiratory illnesses, self-diagnosis is unreliable. Williams students that have been allowed to stay on campus should call at 413-597-2206 with health concerns. To limit the risk of contagion, Health Services is not currently accepting walk-ins. Instead, please call to report your concerns first, and the staff there will instruct you.
Faculty and staff, please call your healthcare provider to report any concerns and ask their advice. Do not walk into a doctor’s office, ER or urgent care facility without calling first.
We are currently strongly recommending that all community members on study away in countries with a should leave those countries immediately. Most providers are cutting such programs short on their own initiative and offering students online courses as an alternative for completion of academic credit. If your study away provider has canceled your program, please start by talking to them about what options they offer for completion. You can also contact Williams Director of International Education and Study Away Christina Stoicu for assistance.
See the FAQ page for more information and updates for students studying abroad.
Beginning Monday, March 16, the college campus will be closed to the public and all events canceled until further notice. We are continually reviewing the situation and will inform the campus community if it becomes necessary to extend or amend this policy. Previews, our campus program for admitted students and families, has also been cancelled, and there will be no admission tours or info sessions during this time.
Faculty event organizers with questions should please contact the , while students should reach out to the . Staff points of contact will vary, so please work with the appropriate liaison for your particular program.
Spring athletics, both practices and competition, will be canceled beginning Monday, March 16. The NESCAC presidents have met and unanimously concluded that conference competition, including championships, will be cancelled for the 2020 spring season.
Williams is tracking the spread of the disease and taking steps consistent with advice from public health experts, while also planning our response to emerging concerns. To stay abreast of the latest developments, the college is tracking news and recommendations from the following sources: the (WHO), the (CDC), the , and the (DPH). We are also in regular contact with area hospitals and healthcare providers, and are incorporating recommendations from professional associations with expertise in areas including food preparation, sanitation, etc.
President Mandel has been meeting with a small executive team to review the rapidly-developing situation and direct updates of college policies or protocols as needed. The team includes Vice President for Campus Life Steve Klass, who previously led the college’s H1N1 response; Chief Communications Officer Jim Reische, who helps supervise Williams’ emergency communications; and Chief of Staff Keli Gail.
Working groups have then been charged by the steering group with conducting in-depth analysis and making recommendations in four broad areas:
- The academic group looks at potential impact on the curriculum and academic program, and options for ensuring continuity. This group includes John Gerry, Associate Dean of the Faculty; Barron Koralesky, Chief Information Officer; Marlene Sandstrom, Dean of the College and Hales Professor of Psychology (chair); Christina Stoiciu, Director of International Education and Study Away.
- The business continuity group looks at preparedness and resilience in college-wide administrative systems like payroll, student accounts and purchasing. This group includes Temesgen Araya, Director of Dining Services; Danielle Gonzalez, Director of Human Resources; Barron Koralesky, Chief Information Officer; Frederick Puddester, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer (chair); Christina Sanborn, Executive Director for Facilities Operations; Matthew Sheehy, Associate Vice President for Finance.
- The communications group develops communications strategy, including both public information/prevention messaging and emergency communications. This group includes Jim Reische, Chief Communications Office (chair); Greg Shook, Director of Media Relations; Robert White, Director of Parent and Family Programs.
- The operations group looks at essential functions including housing, dining and transportation. This group includes Temesgen Araya, Director of Dining Services; David Boyer, Director of Campus Safety and Security; Deborah Flynn, Director of Medical Services; Dan Levering, Assistant Director for Custodial Services and Special Functions; Doug Schiazza, Director of Student Life; Matthew Sheehy, Associate Vice President for Finance (chair); Tony Sinico, Associate Director for Emergency Management.