The two largest employers in the City of Williamsburg and the municipal government continue to coordinate and work together on a path forward for residents, visitors, students and staff as the state government looks to ease restrictions as part of Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order 61.
“The City of Williamsburg is very fortunate to have true partners in the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and William & Mary,” City Manager Andrew Trivette said. “Both institutions, and their leaders, have been welcome collaborators as we all strive to address social, physical, and financial challenges unprecedented in our lifetimes. I greatly value their counsel and know that our City is better positioned for reopening because of what they have done and continue to do to meet the needs of our community and not just their organizations.”
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, William & Mary and City of Williamsburg continue to make measured decisions to protect our close-knit community.
Colonial Williamsburg’s public sites remain closed through May 31 with plans to reopen to the public on a limited scale only after Virginia reaches Phase 2 of the governor’s Forward Virginia reopening plan. Reopening to the public will apply only to a limited number of sites initially, under strict safety protocols that are being finalized by the foundation’s leadership team and guided by government and health authorities. Social distancing, operating at reduced capacity inside buildings and during interpretive and museum programs, use of face coverings where appropriate, and enhanced cleaning and hygiene will all be critical to this effort. Complete details are forthcoming about what guests can expect, both from the educational and hospitality sides of the organization, and will be communicated through Colonial Williamsburg’s website and social media channels.
“The safety of our employees, our guests and community are our highest priority. Colonial Williamsburg’s phased reopening plan requires thoughtful and deliberate coordination with the City and university to keep everyone safe during these uncertain times. Working together, our community will come out of this crisis stronger than ever,” said Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
William & Mary has announced it is committed to holding in-person classes in fall 2020 if it is safe to do so. In March, William & Mary successfully transitioned its spring 2020 semester — more than 2,000 courses — online in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The university announced last month that its two summer sessions would be taught remotely.
William & Mary President Katherine A. Rowe shared last week that a small, multidisciplinary planning team has been charged with exploring scenarios related to the pandemic’s impacts over the next 18 months. The university will make more details available on its fall planning in June. As this effort is underway, the university is coordinating closely with state university peers, and state and local leaders, including the Department of Education, the City and Colonial Williamsburg.
“Bringing our campus back together safely is an enormous task and also a hopeful one because it is a key step in the path forward to a post-COVID-19 William & Mary,” Rowe said. “It is also vital in the success of our Williamsburg broader community moving forward. I am confident that each of us — the university, City and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation — is equally committed to taking those steps with the health, safety and viability of our shared community in mind. Our collaboration and coordination is a great strength in this effort.”
The City of Williamsburg has worked diligently to plan for a reopening strategy that continues to match the approach taken thus far.
“We aim to protect the employees, the residents, and the services with every procedure we put in place,” said Trivette. “That is where our focus remains as we turn to reopening public facilities.”
Earlier this week the City published an outline of its plans for a phased reopening, Forward Williamsburg, that is closely aligned with the Governor’s plan, Forward Virginia. The City’s five phased plan begins with current operational conditions and carries through to a return to pre-COVID-19 conditions. The plan is designed to welcome patrons back to public facilities in Phase 3 with limited services at outdoor park and recreation facilities available in Phase 2.
Over the coming days, weeks and months all three organizations will continue to work together, hand-in-hand as the nation’s fight against the coronavirus continues.