WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College on Thursday issued updated, more stringent regulations for students returning this month.
And the dean of the college noted that violations of the school's COVID-19 safety protocols could lead to "probation, suspension or expulsion."
In a letter to students posted on the college's website, Dean Marlene Sandstrom cites "shifting national conditions" and updated guidance from the commonwealth for changes to the rules that will govern students returning to the college.
One day after Smith College in Northampton announced that it will be going fully remote for the fall semester, Williams told students that they will be quarantined in their dorm rooms until they have received two negative COVID-19 tests.
When Williams first announced its return to school plan, it included a requirement that students quarantine until after their initial test came up negative. Students were told to anticipate being kept in their dorm rooms for a couple of days.
"Initial quarantine is expected to last a minimum of five to seven days," the Thursday letter reads. "During this time, students will only be allowed to leave their rooms to use the bathroom and to go to the testing site for their second test."
Students will be required to remain on campus "at least through September." "Off-campus destinations — even within Berkshire County — will be prohibited during this time."
The college will begin the year in a "campus quarantine" until at least the end of September, Sandstrom wrote. She specifically mentioned the Stop & Shop, just over the town line in North Adams, and Walmart as off-limits destinations.
Students will not be allowed to use their personal vehicles, though they can "exercise or hike" in the surrounding areas.
If health conditions permit, Williams College students will be able to visit off-campus sites in Berkshire County only, except in the case of medical or family emergencies, and students now will initially be tested once per week.
"Any student who misses more than one test will not be able to remain on campus," the letter reads. "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."
In another change, the college is now asking students to self-quarantine for 14 days before their arrival on campus, and the school "strongly recommends" that family members do not accompany students to campus.
Sandstrom notes that "an increasing number of faculty members (more than half so far)" are planning to teach their courses remotely, and that number could go up. She notes that even students living on campus will be attending "all or a significant number" of classes virtually.
Sandstrom repeated a message delivered by President Maud Mandel when she announced the original return to school plan earlier this summer: In-person instruction only will work if everyone follows the rules.
"Our ability to welcome students back to campus is possible only if all community members act in a manner consistent with our protective measures," Sandstrom wrote. "We are holding all students accountable to our public health guidelines — this includes students living in our residence halls, as well as students who are enrolled in person and living nearby in off-campus housing."
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