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Williams College Welcomes Students Back for COVID-Restricted Semester
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
03:49AM / Tuesday, August 25, 2020
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Williams personnel welcome students to the mandatory testing facility near Cole Fieldhouse on Monday.

A red outline on a Google Maps image provided by Williams College defines what areas will be accessible to students through at least the month of September.
 

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College on Monday began the phased return of its student population for the fall semester with a mandatory test and quarantine period.

Students will be restricted to their dorm rooms for five to seven days, until they have received their second negative test for COVID-19.
 
The students are coming back to campus on a staggered schedule with several hundred returning each day.
 
All testing by the college is being reported out on a dashboard on Williams' website.
 
As of Monday morning, Williams had administered 925 tests of faculty and staff in the first seven days of testing with zero positive results for the virus.
 
That tracks with the local numbers reported by the state and the non-profit group covidactnow.org, which Monday reported that Berkshire County had 0.7 new daily cases per 100,000 people.
 
After Williams students receive a second negative test, they will be allowed to use the campus freely but will be restricted to an irregularly shaped area bounded roughly by Cole Field to the north, the Taconic Golf Club to the south, Water Street (Route 43) to the west and the Clark Art Institute campus to the east.
 
The college does not plan to issue the students who have received a second negative test result a card or other documentation to that effect for "logistical reasons," school officials said on Monday.

"In addition to robust Covid testing, a key part of Williams' plan is our Community Health Commitment, which was implemented to create an environment that keeps everyone in the community healthy," Williams spokesperson Gregory Shook said. "It's our intention for all members of the Williams community to hold themselves and each other accountable to these guidelines, and you'll see in the health commitment that corrective action will be taken for those who violate the guidelines.

That restriction is scheduled to continue at least through September.

"Students will have access to Spring Street, Taconic Golf Club, and any space within the area defined by the map, and they'll be able to exercise or hike outdoors in the surrounding area (via walking or biking), with appropriate masking and social distancing," Shook said. "However, going to Stop & Shop, Walmart and other off-campus destinations are prohibited during this time."
 
Meanwhile, non-students and non-staff will not be allowed access to Williams College buildings, including the main library, or athletic facilities, including the tennis courts.
 
Students will be required to be tested regularly for the novel coronavirus — initially twice per week — according to an email to the student population from Dean of the College Marelene Sandstrom earlier this month.
 
"Any student who misses more than one test will not be able to remain on campus," Sandstrom wrote. "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.
 
"We recognize that this policy is strict and does not provide flexibility; this is the only way to ensure that our testing and contact tracing can work effectively. Thus it will be students' responsibility to make sure they are tested as scheduled."
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