RIC OPENING FALL 2021 - STUDENT FAQS

Frequently Asked Questions

RIC will return to an in-person campus this fall with several precautions in place to protect the health of the community. This is vital for the education and wellbeing of our students. 

The RIC administration, in consultation with the Commissioner of Postsecondary Edu-cation and the Chair of the Council of Postsecondary Education has moved to delay the start of classroom instruction on the RIC campus from Monday August 30, 2021 to Wednesday September 8, 2021 in order to allow additional time for students to come into compliance with RIC’s vaccination mandate. Although this will cause some disruption to the academic calendar, efforts to assure that every student on campus is in compliance with our vaccination policy are paramount to protecting the health or our community.  

RIC has a comprehensive plan to ensure the health and safety of the community, and will implement several steps to do so.
 
Risk Levels
RIC will continually monitor the incidence and severity of COVID-19 on campus and in the state to determine the risk level on campus. As the risk increases, so will the stringency of the mitigation approaches.
 
Vaccinations

The COVID-19 vaccinations have proven safe and effective against infection and transmission. While “breakthrough” cases do happen, they are very rarely severe. We are mandating that students be at least partially vaccinated before coming to campus and we are exploring a similar requirement for faculty and staff. There are allowable exemptions to the vaccination mandate for medical and religious reasons.

Additional information specific to vaccinations and testing can be found here: 
https://www.ric.edu/meet-rhode-island-college/health-wellness/covid-19/
 
Masking
In all but the lowest risk level, RIC will implement an indoor mask mandate for everyone, regardless of vaccination status. We also plan to start the semester with an indoor mask mandate in accordance with the Governor’s Executive Order for state buildings. 
 
Testing
All students enrolled for the fall must have a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before coming to campus for the first time.  It must be uploaded into the MediCat system.
     
During the semester, students not fully vaccinated are required to test for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. All other students will participate in a random surveillance testing as part of our efforts to monitor the incidence level on campus and respond accordingly. Staff and faculty will be encouraged to participate in the surveillance protocol.

Additional information specific to vaccinations and testing can be found here: 
https://www.ric.edu/meet-rhode-island-college/health-wellness/covid-19/

Distancing
In all but the lowest risk level, there will be a three (3) foot indoor minimum spacing requirement for all individuals. Six feet will be required if the rate of fully vaccinated participants falls below our threshold..
 
Isolation and Quarantine
RIC will continue the practice of isolating positive cases and quarantining contacts according to Centers for Disease Control guidelines to protect the greater community.
 
Contact Tracing
The Rhode Island Department of Health has indicated that they will handle contact tracing for all institutions of higher education in the state. However, out of an abundance of caution, RIC will continue augmenting this with our own contact tracing efforts for students, faculty, and staff.
 
Cleaning & Sanitizing
As in previous semesters, there will be additional cleaning and sanitizing through-out the term, with increasing frequency as risk levels increase. This will be implemented at all risk levels and increase appropriately at higher risk levels (see report). Note: research has indicated that COVID-19 does not primarily spread through surface contact.
 
Air Quality
This summer an independent entity has been testing air quality within the RIC buildings. Their results will be shared with the campus community before the start of the semester. The Office of Facilities and Operation will look to implement appropriate measures to improve air quality where indicated, including open windows, portable air purifiers, and window exhaust
 
Screening

In all but the lowest risk level, RIC will maintain its screening protocol and assign ambassadors to the highest traffic areas. Students should stay home or in their residence hall room if they feel ill and contact Student Health Services.
 

There are multiple opportunities to get vaccinated, both on-campus and in your community. You can find more information here: https://www.ric.edu/meet-rhode-island-college/health-wellness/covid-19.

Students who have not uploaded their information indicating they are fully or partially vaccinated and have not received a religious or medical exemptions will be informed by Student Health Services before the beginning of school that they have a Student Health Services Hold. If you have this hold you may not attend classes or participate in any activities or events on campus. Faculty will see who has these holds on their rosters, and these students may not attend class. The one exception is that students with this hold may attend a vaccination clinic on campus.

Students have an opportunity to remove this hold if they are partially or fully vaccinated, or receive an exemption, by the end of the add/drop period. They can then attend classes and participate in campus actives and events.

Student who still have this hold after the end of the add/drop period may only participate in fully remote classes and may not participate in any on campus events or activities.

If RIC is in a “moderate,” “substantial,” or “high” risk category, there will be an in-door mask mandate for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. Vaccinated students will not be required to wear asks in the “low” risk category, but students with exemptions will be required to wear masks. Currently, masks are mandated indoors on the RIC campus per an Executive Order by the Governor.

During the semester, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students will be tested weekly for COVID-19. Vaccinated students will be required to participate in random surveillance testing so that we can accurately monitor the presence of COVID-19 on campus.

If RIC is in a “moderate,” “substantial,” or “high” risk category, there will be a distancing mandate of a minimum of three (3) feet indoors. Six feet will be required if the rate of fully vaccinated participants falls below our threshold. 

Yes. However, depending upon the risk category on campus, there may be re-strictions on spacing/venue, group size, out of state participation, etc.

Yes. As with last year, Athletics will follow all COVID-19 requirements and re-strictions dictated by the NCAA and Little East Conference.

Professors for whom COVID-19 presents a high health risk to them or their family members (e.g., an immunocompromised condition) have the option of transitioning to remote or hybrid learning while the campus is in in a “moderate,” “substantial” or “high” risk category. A majority of classes will remain in-person with classroom mitigations.

Additionally, if there are a number of partially vaccinated and exempted students in a class, the classroom may not accommodate the required six-foot distancing. In that in-stance the class may be moved to a different location, or we will need to adjust the modality. Please continue to check your course information right up to the first day of classes.
    
There may come a time when the number of isolated/quarantined faculty, staff and/or students, and the number of high-risk professors opting to teach remotely, hampers the effective operation of the college, at which point the administration may need to direct some or most faculty to teach remotely.  However, with all other mitigations practices in place (vaccination mandate, masking, distancing, screening, testing, sanitizing, case tracking, and isolation and quarantine), this is not anticipated.

The Rhode Island Department of Health will handle contact tracing for all institutions of higher education in the state. However, out of an abundance of caution, RIC will continue augmenting this with our own contact tracing efforts for students, faculty, and staff.  You will be notified by RIC Student Health services staff if you have been exposed and advised on any necessary precautions.

You can find this information here: https://ric.bncollege.com/shop/ric/page/find-textbooks

Yes, there will be student employment. Please contact the Career Development Center at 401-456-8031 or careerdevelopment@ric.edu for more information or visit their website: https://www.ric.edu/department-directory/career-development-center/career-development-center-student-employment.

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis may affect student attendance at all transmission levels. To support students who are absent due to isolation, quarantine, or other COVID-19-related or personal reasons, faculty have been asked to proactively utilize either Blackboard or Google Classroom to ensure students who miss classes can remain engaged and access critical information.

Please know that faculty have devised plans for how to handle shorter- and longer-term absences in their courses, so if you need to miss class, you should speak with each of your instructors to devise a strategy for keeping on track in the course and completing your work. Please be aware that faculty will manage absences as appropriate for the requirements of each specific course, and you should anticipate that they will vary across classes.

The strategies will include things that were available pre-COVID, such as assistance with note-taking for missed classes. Also, please be aware that the College does not have the necessary equipment in every classroom to live-stream in-person classes for students who are absent. Some students have wondered whether faculty can use a laptop for this purpose. Unfortunately, laptop cameras and microphones are built for up-close use, not for picking up sights and sounds at a distance, and they are not sufficient for this purpose. However, your instructors are aware that you may need to miss class and will work with you to determine how best to manage the circumstances of your absence. Above all, for the health and safety of yourself and the RIC community, if you have symptoms consistent with COVID, have tested positive, or are a close contact of someone with COVID, you may not attend in-person classes & should contact Health Services to find out the appropriate protocol for your situation. 
 

In order to provide additional time for students to complete the vaccination requirement and upload all necessary documents into the MediCat system, we delayed the start of academic instruction until Wednesday, September 8. After weighing many factors, September 8 was the best date by which we could allow for more vaccinations and still meet our academic calendar requirements. We recognize that Rosh Hashanah begins on the evening of September 6 and ends on the evening of September 8 and have asked our faculty to please allow for observance of the holiday in their class planning.

Students and faculty may request a mobile hotspot or laptop, camera, or microphone by contacting the ITS Help Center at helpdesk@ric.edu, or calling (401) 456-8803 to arrange for loaner equipment, subject to availability.

Due to supply chain issues, the college will not be able to supply masks, wipes and sanitizers in each classroom. Facilities is identifying central storage locations where these supplies can be obtained by faculty and staff for use within their classrooms.

Sinks and urinals have been returned to every other to allow for social distancing. With the current mask mandate and vaccination requirements, one-way traffic flow will not be required.

Zoom rooms are spaces on campus that have been specifically designated as places students can use to attend synchronous online classes (remote classes). This will allow students who may have back-to-back in-person and online synchronous classes to at-tend classes seamlessly. We also recognize that many students do not have adequate space or wi-fi at home to attend Zoom classes. Zoom rooms allow students to simply bring their own headphones and personal device with them to whatever Zoom room they choose. (Students who do not have a laptop can request a loaner laptop for the semester from the ITS Help Center.) Once all classroom locations are confirmed, Zoom rooms will be designated across campus and marked for easy identification. A map will be available on the website to help students identify the many spaces on campus where they can take their online synchronous classes.

RINEC has been made aware of RIC’s opening plans and requirements. Administration and Finance is working with RINEC facilities to ensure compliance in RIC designated areas.