In a time of uncertainty, the College of William & Mary are preparing its students to return to campus during the coronavirus.
The university updated its policies about mask use around campus, mandatory testing for students prior to returning and social distancing measures.
But what about the students who plan to dorm on campus? What will happen if the school closes early?
Well, there’s a clause for that.
In the students’ housing contract for the school year, the university added a new clause, which included the words “pandemic” and “act of God” as wiggle room in case the college needs to close and send students home earlier than expected.
“The University may terminate this contract and your occupancy rights in the event of fire, earthquake, flood, hurricane, or other significant weather event or natural disaster, act of God, strikes, work stoppages or other labor disturbances, riots or civil commotions, litigation, war or other act of any foreign nation, plague, epidemic, pandemic, power of government or governmental agency or authority, state of emergency, or any other cause like or unlike any cause mentioned above, whether natural or man-caused, which is beyond the control or authority of the University,” according to the additional terms and conditions added to the university’s housing contract. “In the event of such circumstances, all refunds of housing fees will be offered on the following schedule according to the academic calendar for undergraduate classes.”
Students will get some housing fees back depending on which week of classes the university decided to close. The refund fees range from 60 percent if the school closes on before the 3rd week of classes ends to 5 percent if the school closes after the 8th week of classes.
“In the event of a residential hall closure during the fall 2020 semester, charges for the spring 2021 semester will only be billed if the residence halls re-open.”
With that, the students are also expected to pack a little lighter this year.
“Every year we encourage people to pack light and not bring their entire wardrobe,” Erin Zagurksy, spokeswoman for the college, wrote in an email. “Due to the shortened term, with move-out being Nov. 25, we specified it by weeks.”
The packing guidelines also recommend students to not bring all of their winter clothing in August or additional furniture like shelves or futons and to limit the amount of decorations in case the campus does close.
Zagurksy said there is no housing deposit at William & Mary.
Raman Khanna, secretary for academic affairs for the college’s student assembly and rising senior, said many students want to go back to school in the fall and take in person classes.
“Everyone wants to be back on campus and I think the university is adapting with the understanding that Zoom…isn’t a replacement of education,” the finance and data science major said. “But also understanding you can’t go back to full lectures and people sitting two inches away from each other.”
Khanna, who lives off campus, said students just need to trust the administration and the college is acting in the students’ best interests during this time.
“Obviously, our institution is founded on the honor code,” he said. “I think it just comes down to to trusting the administration is very careful and very deliberate.”
“I think a lot of students don’t know yet a lot of the care and planning and equipment that’s going towards this effort and so yeah, I kind of think it comes down to trusting that the administration is going to be making the best decision for us,” he added.
The university announced Monday its plan to push the 2020 in-person graduation ceremony until May 2021 due to coronavirus concerns.
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