UMW Joins City to Keep Community Healthy

A COVID-19 Joint Task Force kept communication open between Fredericksburg and UMW. Photo of downtown, pre-pandemic, by Karen Pearlman ’00.

In August, well before UMW brought students back, a COVID-19 Joint Task Force made of Fredericksburg officials and university administrators began meeting weekly to ensure health-guideline compliance on and off campus.

The university delayed in-person classes until Sept. 14, three weeks later than scheduled, because of the pandemic. When students showed up, UMW enforced a strict “MMDC policy” – monitor, mask, distance, and clean – with reminders and precautionary measures posted outside and in buildings.

The COVID-19 Joint Task Force acts as a bridge between the city and UMW, combining personnel in an effort to share community observances and avert issues before they arise. It includes Fredericksburg’s Fire Chief Michael Jones, Police Chief Brian Layton, and The COVID-19 Joint Task ForceDirector of Economic Development Bill Freehling, along with UMW’s Chief of Police Mike Hall, Assistant Director of Athletics Caitlin Moore, and Director of Transfer and Off-Campus Student Services Chris Porter.

UMW asked students to always wear masks, to socially distance, and to limit gatherings to no more than 10 people. Administrators made it clear that the guidelines apply beyond campus boundaries. An intricate system of checks and balances – including an “Eagles Care Ambassadors” program that asks students to monitor each other’s behavior – helps keep students accountable.

Fredericksburg Police are not in a position to enforce UMW policy, but officers are charged with monitoring activity within city limits according to public safety recommendations issued by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. And, they can issue reminders of university protocol.

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