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Fall 2020 Plan for Williams College: A Return to Campus But No Fall Sports

June 30, 2020, 10:15 a.m. (ET)

Content Courtesy of Williams College Athletics

President Maud S. Mandel announced on June 29 that "Williams plans to convene an in-person semester for fall 2020. Our plan includes extraordinary public health measures for everyone's protection, options for people who are unable to come to campus because of medical or other concerns and a full curriculum of hybrid and remote courses. These measures will provide flexibility for all as well as protections for international students and those from vulnerable populations, and for everyone residing on or working on campus. I'm eager to welcome our community back."

Williams College COVID-19 website.

Virtual Town Hall Physical Education and Athletics
Williams has scheduled a series of virtual town halls for the campus community to learn more about our plans for the fall and to ask questions. Links to each meeting will be added as they are available, and log-in information will be emailed. All meeting times are Eastern Standard time. Recordings of each town hall will be available on this page. We welcome questions or comments via our comment portal.

Physical Education and Athletics
Wednesday, July 1, 2:00 - 3:30 p.m.

Williams College Athletics and Physical Education FAQs

Intercollegiate Athletics
Will there be fall sports?

Teams will be able to practice in small groups to begin with. Fall sports teams will not participate in competition this fall.

Will fall athletes return early to begin pre-season?

No, athletes will arrive on campus with other students.

When will decisions be made about winter sports?

We are hopeful winter teams can begin practice on Oct. 15. A decision about when teams can return after Winter Break will be decided later in the fall.

What will it be like to participate on a team this fall?

We will utilize the NCAA resocialization of sport guidelines, which call for a three-phased return to sports activity. In Phase I, workout/practice groups will be limited to 10 people (including coaches), social distancing will be adhered to, masks/face coverings will be worn when distancing cannot be maintained, equipment will not be shared among players, and training sessions will focus on individual skill work and conditioning. In Phase II, workout/practice groups may increase in size, distancing will be adhered to, equipment may be shared among team members, and training sessions will include organized group activities. Masks/face coverings will be worn based upon current state and college guidelines when distancing cannot be maintained. Phase III, which we may not fully enter during the fall semester, allows for larger groups, shared use of equipment, organized group activities and competition. Our athletic training staff will work with coaches and student-athletes to put enhanced personal hygiene and equipment cleaning practices in place. Small group and individual meetings will take place online or outdoors during Phase I and II. Meetings will comply with campus guidelines when indoor meetings begin during Phase III.

Will there be different rules for contact and non-contact sports?

At this time practice and competition rules will remain the same for all sports.

What will practice look like for winter sports that require an indoor facility?

When Massachusetts enters Phase III, we can increase the use of indoor facilities. All teams will be subject to NCAA resocialization protocols, meaning beginning in small groups and progressing through phases.

When will decisions be made about spring sports?

More information will be available prior to the start of the spring semester. We will learn a great deal this fall.

Will athletic teams who are not competing continue to function as teams? Will they have coaches?

NESCAC is developing plans for fall, winter and spring sports regarding the ways in which coaches will be permitted to engage with their teams, and we anticipate providing opportunities in the fall for our coaches to work with their student-athletes from each sport season in some fashion.

Will athletic spaces, such as fields, courts and locker rooms be available for student use?

Spaces will be reopened in line with state guidelines, starting with outdoor spaces and followed by the largest indoor spaces, then smaller more equipment heavy rooms and lastly locker rooms. Not all athletic spaces will be operational when you first return to campus, and for many of these spaces there will be new protocols to follow, such as scheduling based use, cleaning requirements and capacity limitations. The most up to date information can be found at

Will outdoor facilities/spaces/fields be "open" for student-led workouts and optional practices?

We are required to follow college and state guidelines for gathering, including social distancing, group size, and limitations on contact sports. For groups who want to recreate under these guidelines, the athletic department will assist in scheduling these spaces when possible. Supervision may be required at any such gathering.

Will student-athletes have access to Athletic Training services?

Yes, but access and services will be limited. All visits will require an appointment, and overall volume will be kept to a minimum. Daily pre/post-activity treatments such as e-stim, hot packs and whirlpools will be suspended. Regular athletic taping procedures will be replaced with reusable braces. Injury evaluation and referral services will continue to be available while, whenever possible, rehabilitation guidance will shift toward athletic trainer designed "self-help" care. Social distancing, masking and hand-washing requirements will be strictly enforced.

Will student-athletes need to complete medical clearance paperwork and screening/baseline requirements with Sports Medicine? Have there been any changes to these protocols?

Incoming first-year and transfer students received emails detailing the requirements. Returning student-athletes were also sent a reminder regarding athletic injury/surgical clearances as well as information pertaining to banned substance waivers. All classes received information regarding the current clearance requirements for diagnosed/assumed cases of Covid-19 with regards to athletic participation. Depending on the severity of symptoms, some clearances may require specific cardiac screening that should be performed prior to arriving on campus. Additional requests for completing online forms, baseline screening and education will be sent later this summer. Whenever possible, screening appointments will be conducted remotely.

Are there certain medical conditions, in relation to Covid-19, that might preclude me from participating in organized athletic activity?

Yes. As outlined in the NCAA Resocialization of Sport document, specific underlying medical conditions such as moderate to severe asthma, immunocompromised status, severe obesity, diabetes or additional heart, lung, kidney or liver disease have all been identified as conditions that may place an individual into a higher-risk category. It is recommended that individuals with increased risk factors refrain from participation in the early stages of organized athletic activity. The presence of increased risk factors may require additional documentation from your primary physician, and all final participation clearances are at the discretion of the health care providers at the college.

What should I do with any uniform or apparel issued from the Athletic Department equipment room if I am not returning to campus in the fall?

We ask that you reach out to your coach to notify them of the equipment you have, and plans will be made to help you get it back to campus.

Will teams be allowed to travel off-campus for practice?

Not at this time, but we are continuing to explore options that would facilitate this.

If a student-athlete chooses to take a semester or the entire year off, how does that affect their standing on their team?

A student's standing on the team will be unaffected. It is hoped students will make the best decision for themselves.

Will teams have access to Sports Performance (strength and conditioning)?

Currently access to indoor spaces is restricted. We are working to facilitate outside training areas for student athletes. When we can move inside, students will use the facility in small, scheduled training groups.

What does the elimination of the Division of the Day mean for the scheduling of practices?

Training groups and times will be established once student academic schedules are known.

Club Sports
Will club sports be able to practice or compete during the fall semester?

We continue to work to develop protocols that will allow us to practice safely. Club sports will not compete or be able to travel off campus to events.

Physical Education
Will there be any change to the Physical Education graduation requirement?

No change has been made to the physical education requirement. Students must complete four PE credits to complete the milestone. A credit is earned for each quarter of physical education a student fully participates in. Each semester is divided into two quarters.

I plan to study abroad during junior year, but I need to complete four PE credits to do so. What can I do?

There will be physical education classes offered throughout the year, both in-person and remotely.

How will I be able to complete my PE requirement if I am remote?

The department will offer online options, as it did this spring.

Will there be any change to the swim requirement?

The timeline to complete the swim requirement will be extended, and there will be no swim test this fall.

Will PE classes have limited numbers?

Yes, class sizes will remain small enough to maintain social distancing. In addition, for remote classes we will limit the number of participants to allow for small class sizes and meaningful experiences.

Can any PE classes take place indoors, and if so, will a mask be required?

Classes will begin outdoors this fall, and masks will be required when social distancing is not possible. This means we will not be offering some indoor classes during the first quarter, including spinning, squash and swimming. If we can move a class typically taught indoors outside, we will.

Williams Outing Club

Will there be Williams Outing Club programming?

Yes, following college guidelines of social distancing and mask wearing, we will create programming for students to get outside in activities such as hiking, climbing, canoeing and fishing in the fall. We hope to offer a full complement of snow activities as the season changes.

Will the indoor climbing wall be open?

The indoor climbing wall will not be open for use at the start of the semester, though we are hopeful we can find a way to use it safely as the semester progresses.

Will the WOC equipment room be open?

Williams Outing Club is working to develop a system to safely distribute, collect, and clean equipment. If we can do so safely, we will open the equipment room.