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IMPORTANT Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

March 23, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

As the circumstances of our rapidly changing environment continue to evolve, I have been in constant contact with our campus community – students, faculty members, staff, alumni and friends – to fully assess the impact and proactively plan for the days ahead. We will get through it. I want to assure you that I recognize the enormous impact this unprecedented crisis has had on your individual lives; please know that my thoughts of safety, health and hope are with each of you.

Today I am writing to share a number of important updates. I urge you to read on for more detail on each of these topics:

•  Rhode Island Department of Health has notified the college of a confirmed case.

•  We are transitioning to remote course delivery for the remaining six weeks of the spring semester.

•  We are adjusting registration periods for Summer and Fall 2020 semesters.

•  Residence halls will be closed for the remaining six weeks of the spring semester, except to a small group of students with extenuating circumstances.

•  We are providing new guidance for employees reporting to work.

•  Commencement will NOT be held as planned on May 16, 2020.

Confirmed Case

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has informed the college that one of our students tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The student, who resides on campus, is in self-isolation and following the protocols from RIDOH. The college is working with RIDOH to support our student and residential community through this difficult time.  

Understandably, we are all concerned that the pandemic has now directly impacted the RIC campus. According to their protocol, RIDOH has reached out to those who may have been in close contact with the student and have put in place appropriate protective measures.

According to Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the college has taken steps to sanitize and disinfect the areas with which the student may have come into contact.

Learn Remote. Teach remote. Work remote.

Thank you for your extraordinary work in transitioning to teaching, learning and providing services in a remote environment. To be sure, this has been our boldest step in combating the crisis, and something we’ve never before done.

Several days ago, in our efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19, we made the announcement to transition to remote course delivery starting today, March 23. Since that time, faculty members, with the support of every division across campus, have identified alternative methods to deliver face-to-face course content for more than 1500 courses. Now, those courses will be delivered online through the web and use of email, videoconferencing and teleconferencing tools. 

The swift and diligent work of transitioning to online/remote instruction has been bold and nothing short of remarkable. With the support of the academic leadership, I am announcing today that the college will continue delivering course content remotely for the remaining six weeks of the spring semester. As with anything new, there will be a variety of issues to address within this cutting-edge learning environment, but extending use of this mode of instruction through the end of the semester will provide students and faculty with the ability to better plan for course completion. Please be assured that even as we take these actions, the personalized, interactive and collaborative learning that are the hallmarks of Rhode Island College will continue.

We do understand that for many of our students, faculty members and staff, this may be the first experience with remote learning, teaching and working. This is a new environment for all of us and will take some getting used to as we navigate classes, instruction and other work that must be completed. For some, the remote environment may cause anxiety or fear. These feelings are natural, but I know our dedication to teaching and learning will enable each of us at the college to push through it.

We recognize that there may be many among you who have limited-to-no access to equipment, technology and/or the Internet, which will make the transition to remote learning even more difficult. We are working to identify resources to alleviate that burden. Please also know that members of the faculty and staff are working to ensure that reasonable disability accommodations are met within the remote, accessible learning environment.

In an effort to support each of us through this transition, we are launching RICremote, a one-stop shop for tools and resources to help you LEARNremoteTEACHremote and WORKremote. It is our hope that these resources will provide the support you need. A special thanks to everyone who contributed to the development of this resource, particularly the team in web communications.

Student Registration

Summer 2020 Registration

Summer 2020 registration remains open for all undergraduate, graduate and non-degree students until the last day of add/drop for Summer Session I (May 22) and Summer Session II (July 6). Universal Advising Holds (UAD) are not assigned to degree students for summer session registration.  

Fall 2020 Registration

Under the circumstances, it is necessary to provide additional time for students to connect with advisors and faculty to plan coursework for Fall 2020. Accordingly, the Fall 2020 registration period has been adjusted and registration for most undergraduate and graduate students will begin on Monday, April 13. Advisors will be in contact with students for advisement prior to the start of the registration period. Students who do not hear from their advisors should contact them via email.

For more information about Summer 2020 or Fall 2020 registration, please email records@ric.edu or contact the Records Office online. 

Residential Community

Effective immediately and out of an abundance of caution, the residence halls will be closing for the remainder of the spring semester. While the decision to close the residence halls does not come easily, we recognize that it is in the best interest of our students and the community to do so.

In order to give students and families time to make necessary move-out arrangements, Residential Life and Housing will provide students with additional information regarding move-out procedures. The residence halls will close by the end of the day on Thursday, March 26. As a result of this decision, the college has also extended the 20 percent housing and dining refund deadline to Thursday, March 26. Please refer to this document for more details.

Residential Life and Housing may make exceptions for students with significant personal hardships and extenuating circumstances on an individual basis. ​Please know that all decisions are final.

Employees

In order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and prior to the start of each work shift (for those working on campus), supervisors must check with staff to make sure staff are well enough to remain at work (i.e., not demonstrating cough, fever or other potential signs of COVID-19).

If a case of COVID-19 is reported within the campus community, additional guidance will be provided regarding leave procedures for employees who contract COVID-19 or are exposed to the virus.

In the event of any office closures, essential employees are expected to report to work unless otherwise excused. The designation of “essential employees” will vary depending on the time of year and the operation they serve. In the coming days, your supervisor will notify you if you are an essential employee.

Commencement

Earlier today, I reached out to the members of the graduating class to share one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make as president: the cancellation of the May 16, 2020 Commencement exercises.

While the unprecedented circumstances in which we find ourselves necessitate this decision out of concern for the health and safety of our community, the decision is no less difficult nor any less heart-wrenching.

Our seniors have devoted time to their courses, made sacrifices for themselves and their families, and in most cases have worked night and day to earn their degrees. The commencement exercises are the culmination of their persistence, resilience, accomplishments and tenacious spirit to prepare for their future.

Without question, this decision was not taken lightly, nor was it taken in the absence of consideration of other viable alternatives. We also know that for these graduates, their final semester at Rhode Island College will leave an indelible mark on their memories as they look back over their college journey. I assured our graduates that although we are not currently able to fully recognize their accomplishments with all the pomp and circumstance that their achievements deserve, we will honor them appropriately at another time.

Stay Informed. Stay Connected.

As the virus and the response continue to evolve, please make sure to check our website for any updates or send us an email if you have any questions: stayinformed@ric.edu

In this difficult and challenging time, our campus community has found strength by coming together as never before and boldly supporting our students and each other. To each of you, I express my deepest appreciation, gratitude, encouragement and continued support.

Yours in education,

Frank D. Sánchez
President

Page last updated: March 23, 2020