Williams College Implements Health and Safety Plan to Restart Construction on Campus

Media contact: Gregory Shook, director of media relations; tele: 413-597-3401; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., May 22, 2020—In an effort to minimize the risks of COVID-19 and assist in stopping the spread of the virus, Williams College, working closely with the Williamstown Town administration and in conjunction with the Williamstown Board of Health, has implemented a new health and safety plan for active construction projects on its campus. Williams’ new plan, which will go into effect May 26, entails a number of site-specific protocols and measures that provide streamlined resources and services to assist the college’s contracted vendors in compliance with all Centers for Disease Control and Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines, Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Construction Sector-Specific Requirements as they relate to exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

Required health and safety measures in Williams’ plan include social distancing of six feet or more from others, stringent hygiene practices, increased hygiene facilities on site, and the prohibition of car-pooling to and from campus. Prior to shifts, all individuals reporting to work must self-certify that they are symptom-free, and all projects must conduct team briefings to discuss the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 infection and best practices to protect themselves and others against the virus. In addition, individuals experiencing COVID-related symptoms may not report to a campus job site under any circumstances.

In accordance with Williams’ plan, the restart of work on campus will occur in a multi-phased approach to allow for the evaluation of practices, verification of compliance, and further inform future projects. The first phase will begin on May 26, with each new phase to begin on the first of each subsequent month for at least the next four months or until Governor Baker lifts the mandated protocols for construction workers. As an additional safety and compliance measure, the number of Annual and Renewal construction projects will be reduced by half.

Williams will also assign full-time COVID-19 Officers. Using a newly developed map that divides the Williams campus and surrounding areas into four main areas and lists the locations and dates of all active construction projects, each COVID-19 Officer will be assigned a specific area of campus to monitor. Officers will certify via daily reports that all contractors and subcontractors on campus are in full compliance with the college’s safety protocols and measures as well as associated local, state, and federal guidelines and directives. COVID Officers will wear name badges to identify themselves while on campus and will be moving about the campus, from project to project, in golf carts.

“Above all, our primary objective is to keep the Williamstown community, Williams College campus community, and our job sites safe while assisting in stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” said Rita Coppola-Wallace, executive director of design and construction at Williams. “In conjunction with this plan, the implementation of shared resources will improve likelihood of compliance, reduce vendor frustration, minimize redundancy, and increase understanding of the steps necessary to minimize COVID-19 risks on active projects.”

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Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s approximately 2,000 undergraduate students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. The college is also home to roughly 100 Master’s students enrolled in its renowned graduate programs in Development Economics and the History of Art (the latter offered in collaboration with the Clark Art Institute). Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.

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