Updates

On this page, keep up to date or catch up with the most recent updates to RWU's Covid Protocols website. We share the latest updates in a newsletter regularly, linking to relevant sections so you can easily stay current as the University's plan evolves.

Updated: 8/3/22

RWU’s Covid-19 guidelines for Fall 2022

August 3, 2022 

Dear RWU students, 

We are so excited to see you on our Bristol campus in just a few short weeks. We hope you're looking forward to a great year of engaged learning, hands-on research and internships, and vibrant campus life at Roger Williams University. In preparation for our year ahead, this message communicates important information about our Covid-19 protocols to help us all navigate the year ahead safely and successfully together.  

As one of the most committed and successful institutions maintaining in-person classes and activities over the past two years, RWU consistently has prioritized student and employee health and safety throughout the pandemic. Our university was the first higher education institution in New England to require vaccinations and all community members were required to participate in weekly testing leading to responsive case management, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation.  

Now, as we navigate the endemic stage of Covid-19 while continuing to maintain a high vaccination rate, it is important that we collectively begin to shift from institutional responsibility for prevention to individual responsibility. While all schools, campuses and communities will continue to experience positive Covid cases, it is time to shift from a crisis-response approach to a managed-care approach. To do so requires commitment from every member of our community. Please note that the intended audience for this communication is undergraduate students. University employees and students in the School of Law, University College and Graduate Studies will receive separate communications. 

Our Fall 2022 Covid policies have been updated to reflect this managed care approach, subject to further adjustment and notification as necessary. For the latest Covid protocols, visit our website

Vaccination 

Every student not previously granted a medical or religious exemption is required to complete a primary series of Covid-19 vaccination and to provide documentation through the Health Services portal. The first and second boosters are highly recommended upon eligibility, especially considering the continuing evolution of variants and sub-variants and diminishing natural immunity periods between infections. The University reserves the right to require additional boosters as determined necessary with advanced notice. No unvaccinated student may move into university housing, attend classes, participate in University programs, events and or activities, or begin employment without an approved medical or religious exemption from RWU. 

Masking  

As we enter the fall semester, RWU is recommending but not requiring masks in indoor settings, with the following exceptions: 

  • On all shared university transportation. 
  • Individual faculty can require masking in their classrooms or labs with advanced notice. 
  • Inside Health Services and the Counseling Center. 
  • When required to participate in activities, training, or employment with prior approval from designated university officials. 

Mask wearing (high quality N95 or KN95) in indoor settings is considered an effective and recommended practice by the Centers for Disease Control and the American College Health Association and has been proven effective at RWU. The University reserves the right to require mask wearing in any indoor setting when deemed necessary, and we support any individual who chooses to wear a mask to protect themselves or others.   

Pre-Arrival and Arrival Testing 

The University strongly recommends every student self-administer a rapid test prior to their first day on campus.  

Upon arrival to campus before classes start, all undergraduate students will be required to go through our centralized check-in process between August 25th and August 29th which includes a monitored rapid test. Information regarding the sign-up process for check-in, days and hours of operation, and requirements will be distributed by email to students on August 5th so please check your inbox! 

Student Testing During Semester 

The University will not be operating a surveillance testing center or require weekly testing of students at this time; this protocol is subject to change, however, if determined necessary based on prevailing conditions on campus and in the greater community. 

All individuals – regardless of vaccination status - are required to self-test or access eligible on or off-campus testing resources when experiencing symptoms. 

Every student will be provided with 2 rapid test kits for their room or apartment during the initial clearance testing period and as part of the Fall 22 Semester Roger’s Compact. Students will be expected to obtain and bring to campus at least 6 additional tests for self-testing on- or off-campus or at home, especially on nights and weekends, if symptoms develop. Free antigen tests for personal use can be obtained from the federal government at http://covidtests.gov. Insurance companies and many health plans are required to cover eight home antigen tests per covered individual per month.  

Students will be required to self-report their positive test through an online Etrieve form (link available August 22) or via QR codes posted on all residence hall room doors. Upon submission, students will receive instructions via email with isolation guidance that can be forwarded to faculty members. Students are responsible for contacting and making arrangements with professors to continue their learning. 

Notifying Close Contacts 

Students are responsible for notifying their own close contacts themselves. All students reporting positive results to E-trieve will receive information via email clarifying who is considered a close contact and a detailed script for notifying those individuals. Close contacts of infected individuals should test themselves on or after day five (day five = five days post-exposure) or if symptoms develop. 

Symptomatic Testing 

Student Health Services will continue to provide symptomatic testing for students, by appointment, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 pm. Health Services should be used only for symptomatic individuals seeking a COVID test. SHS should not be used in cases of being a close contact and other examples of confirmatory testing. The university needs to prioritize and maintain availability for treatment of students with illness or injuries. 

Isolation 

The University is reducing but not eliminating isolation housing. As a guiding policy, students testing positive who live within 200 miles of campus will be required to leave campus and isolate at home for a minimum of 5 days (regardless of vaccination status) and then mask in all indoor settings for a period of 5 days upon return to campus. Under no circumstances should a student who tests positive attend class in-person, use University facilities, or participate in events or activities.  

Students living in apartment-style housing (Bayside, Almeida, North Campus Residence Hall or off-campus housing) will have isolation-in-place options, subject to suite and apartment agreements developed at the start of the semester. Residence Life staff will be available to facilitate those discussions for residential students. 

Quarantine  

As of this communication, students who are close contacts of a positive individual and have an approved vaccine exemption or are not fully up to date on recommended vaccine series (primary series and booster) will be required to quarantine for at least 5 days from last contact with infected individual and upon return wear a well-fitting mask in all indoor settings for 5 days. Those fully up to date with their vaccine series will not be required to quarantine but will need to monitor for symptoms and wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days and test on day 5. Additional updates will be posted to our Covid-19 website. 

Isolation/Quarantine Plan 

As part of Roger’s Compact 22-23, all students who live within 200 miles of campus will be required to develop an isolation/quarantine exit plan to leave campus should they test positive or need to quarantine. The plan must include the names of family and friends who they will call for transportation home or to another location. 

Questions & Information 

Visit our website for updates on RWU’s Covid-19 operational guidelines. For any further questions, contact Covid19@rwu.edu.  

In Conclusion: Make Smart Choices 

Our community has proven its care and support for one another through the most challenging years of the pandemic. We will continue to act together with the same mindful approach and respect for the health and safety of each other, our families at home and our local communities. Keep making smart choices and following the University guidance and together we will make this a fantastic year. 

Sincerely, 
John King, Vice President for Student Life 
Margaret Everett, Provost & Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs  
Brian Williams, Chief of Staff 

Updated 5/4/2022

Dear students,

As we near the last several days of classes and the final exam period it is important to share that the Bristol campus, as well as the county, region and state – is experiencing a significant uptick in Covid cases over the past 10 days.  While we continue to maintain the Covid Data Dashboard, the number of positive pools and the positivity rate from that testing each day is not the entire picture as we must consider close contacts and symptomatic student positives.  In addition, we have reached the 50% capacity level for isolation and quarantine housing in Baypoint.  A quick snapshot of the last 10 days of student testing results reveals:

Last week = 44 student positives

Self-reported over this past weekend = 12 student positives

Monday’s pool testing, close contact and symptomatic testing = 35 positives

Tuesday’s (yesterday pool testing, close contact and symptomatic testing = 20 positives

Several members of our Covid Operations team have been discussing the situation over the past two days.  We recognize that we are close to the end of the semester and for undergraduate seniors – close to Commencement and final senior activities.  It is important for students to be able to attend final classes, projects and papers without having to deal with Covid symptoms or isolation.   We have the ability to reduce transmission if we are intentional.

Therefore, effective Thursday May 5, 2022, the University will make the following  adjustment to our Covid operating level by retaining many features of Yellow while returning to a key prevention method within Orange. 

See: https://www.rwu.edu/reopening-roger/health-safety-protocols

NOTE:  No Changes for School of Law Students, all current policies (ORANGE LEVEL) remain in place.

  • MASKING (KN94 or 95 preferred) will be required in all classrooms and labs (Bristol and Providence) beginning Thursday May 5, 2022 and through the end of the final exam period.  INDOOR MASKING in all other locations is recommended but not required and we will continue to follow all other policies established under Yellow operating level.
  • TESTING cadence will not change.  Through May 12, 2022, Vaccinated/Boosted student testing remains bi-weekly (you are welcome to test weekly) and Vaccine exempt or not boosted student testing remains twice weekly.  Testing center will be open 11 am – 5 pm Monday through Thursday
  • TESTING May 16 through May 19 will be available and is recommended before students travel home and at least once for Seniors in advance of Commencement week activities.  Testing center hours that week will be 11 am – 2 pm Monday through Thursday.
  • The Providence campus will continue testing Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. through Wednesday May 18, when the center will close. 
  • SYMPTOMATIC TESTING is critically important and remains available for students at Health Services during weekdays through Thursday, May 19th
  • Please DO NOT ATTEND CLASS, A FINAL EXAM, ANY ACTIVITIES, THE TESTING CENTER, OR USE IN-PERSON DINING IF YOU ARE EXPERIENCING SYMPTOMS. Contact Health Services
  • For the remainder of the semester, students who test positive will now be fully responsible for notifying their close contacts and will be provided information to inform that communication.

For faculty and staff,

Since April 14, we have recorded 25 positive cases among employees. Together with the recent uptick in positive cases among students and employees, the university has decided to strengthen some employee safety protocols on a temporary and as-needed basis.  Masks are required in classrooms and labs.  In addition, we strongly encourage all employees to wear masks in common areas, and to maintain physical distancing when eating or working in groups. Continue to monitor yourself for flu-like symptoms and do not come into work or go to the university testing center if you are not feeling well.

It is important to note that a considerable number of students and employees who became infected with Covid in December or January are being infected again with the latest B2 variant and that for most, especially vaccinated individuals, symptoms are mild but still disruptive.

Can’t find your mask supply?? Any student who needs a mask may obtain one for free in the Student Life Office in the Center for Student Development and masks remain available at low cost in the RWU Bookstore and the Lower Commons.

Let’s work together by wearing masks in classrooms and labs for the final days of classes and through final exams.  Please also support and understand those students and employees who decide to wear a mask in other settings.  Finally – let’s do all we can collectively to keep infection rates low so that members of the undergraduate senior class can fully enjoy Commencement week activities – WE CAN DO THIS HAWKS!

Sincerely,

Margaret Everett (she, hers, his) – Provost & Senior Vice President
Brian Williams (he, him, his) – Chief of Staff
John King (he, him, his) – Vice President for Student Life

Dear RWU community,

RWU is moving to Covid Operating Level Yellow, effective as of Saturday, March 26. This message will share the updated guidelines on testing and masking for university community members.

RWU Covid Operating Level Guidance Spring 2022 (rev. March 25, 2022)

covid_levelsmarch2022

After a full week of spring break clearance testing resulting in low campus positivity levels (<.040%), and with case numbers in RI and Bristol County stabilized and regional hospital admissions for Covid declining for the tenth consecutive week, RWU is moving to Level 2 (Yellow) Covid Operating Status effective Saturday, March 26. 

We wish to thank our students and employees who tested prior to returning to campus and reported positive test results to Health Services or Human Resources – that was a big help! Unfortunately, not every member of our community participated in return from spring break clearance testing and as a result, we are adapting slightly our testing guidelines during the operating level transition to Level 2, while moving forward with becoming more mask-optional.

Testing Guidelines

Fully vaccinated students and employees (both vaccinated and boosted) who have tested at least once this past week through the campus testing center can now begin testing every other week, starting the week of March 28 through the semester, until further notice.

Did you miss clearance testing after returning from spring break?

  • Any student who did not test at least once this week in the campus testing center this week will be contacted soon by Student Life and notified that they may not enter class next week until they have a negative test result from our campus testing center. (This does not apply to students exempted from testing in the 90 day no test protocol). These students should test on Monday, and upon receiving a negative test result, may resume attending in person classes on Tuesday. Fully vaccinated students who missed return from spring break clearance testing will be required to comply with one additional week of weekly testing April 4 – 7, and then can begin every other week testing for the rest of the semester until further notice.
  • Students and employees who are vaccine-exempt or have not uploader their booster shot information must continue to test twice weekly for the rest of the semester until further notice.

Mask Optional and Required Masking Guidelines

Level 2 (Yellow) means that masking will become optional in most indoor settings across the university, with the following exceptions:

  • Masks continue to be required in all School of Law classrooms.
  • Masking may be required within classrooms/labs at the discretion of faculty and within office spaces at the discretion of staff.  (see table for more specifics)
  • All shared transportation (shuttles; clubs, orgs and athletic travel).
  • Counseling, Health Services, and Testing Center
  • Fitness Center – for vaccine-exempt or not current with booster.

While many students and employees are eager to ease measures, we need to respect those various individuals in our community who remain concerned about their own health status as well as their families. Using a high-quality mask, particularly in close contact settings, remains an effective and prudent prevention measure for Covid, and we support any individuals that continue to wear masks as a preventive measure.

Finally, symptom screening remains even more important as we mask and test less at this point in the semester. Covid is still present and will remain present in our community for the remainder of the semester. Any student with symptoms should not go to class or participate in activities until they have been tested at Health Services (not the campus testing center) and have received a negative test result.  Employees experiencing symptoms should not come to campus before testing off-campus or at home (not the campus testing center) and report any positive results to Human Resources.

Now is the time to make sure we finish the semester strong and focus on completing our great work for the academic year. While we are glad to move towards more mask-optional guidelines, we urge you all to follow the testing guidelines to make sure we are able to monitor for the virus, for the health and safety of our community.

Thank you for all you do to keep our campus as safe as possible.  Spring is here and with it many exciting events, activities, performances and athletics including the return of traditions and a full Spring Week for our undergraduates!

Stay Well,

John J. King (he, him)
Vice President for Student Life

Brian Williams (he, him)
Chief of Staff

Dear Students,

I want to share the testing expectations for our return from Spring Break that, if followed, can allow us to transition to the next mask optional level (Yellow – see below doc) on March 26. This level will provide more mask optional situations including classrooms/labs at the discretion of faculty members (except in School of Law classrooms where masking will remain required).  Achieving this level will also mean a decrease in testing frequency for those that are fully vaccinated and up-to-date with booster by March 27.

RWU Covid Operating Level Guidance Spring 2022 (rev. March 25, 2022)

covid_levelsmarch2022

All students are encouraged to minimize risk of Covid exposure and make smart choices over Spring Break and to test BEFORE traveling to see family or friends. The RWU Testing Center is open until 5 pm today and from 11 am to 5 pm tomorrow and as always – closed on Friday.  In addition, if you are not boosted please take the opportunity to get boosted while on break. Please read the attached Operating Levels and understand that vaccinated students without booster will be required to test and mask more frequently than boosted students starting March 27.

TESTING EXPECTATIONS FOR RETURN FROM SPRING BREAK ARE AS FOLLOWS

  1. On the morning of the day you return to campus/local area, an at home or in pharmacy RAPID test is RECOMMENDED. Do Not Return To Campus or Off-Campus Housing If Positive!
  2. Upon arriving back to campus, two tests are REQUIRED of all undergraduate and full-time graduate students on the Bristol campus during the first week back. All part-time graduate students on Bristol and Providence classes and all University College students must test in testing center before attending first class. University College and Law Students will receive additional testing requirement reminders from their Dean’s. The following hours and schedule will support you completing this requirement by testing a minimum of 2 days apart:
    1. Sunday, March 20th 4-8pm (PCR) Test 1, then again Tuesday or Weds (Pooled PCR) Test 2
    2. Monday 11AM to 5pm (PCR) Test 1, then again Weds or Thursday (Pooled PCR) Test 2
    3. Tuesday (PCR) Test 1 and then again Thursday (Pooled PCR) Test 2

Student Life will be actively monitoring compliance with the above testing requirements. Your cooperation will make it as likely as possible to move to the Yellow Covid Operating Level. Students who are not within a 90 days no test protocol through Health Services and do not comply with return from break testing requirements will be addressed through Student Conduct and not allowed to enter classrooms the week of March 27th.  University College and Law Students will receive testing requirement information and compliance follow-up from their Dean’s.

Have a great break and let's come back and finish the semester strong as a community!

Sincerely,
John

Dr. John J. King
Vice President - Student Life

Dear RWU community, 

For almost two years, the RWU community has demonstrated tremendous commitment to minimizing the risk of infection and transmission of the Covid virus, both on and off campus. We have protected ourselves while also prioritizing the protection of others, including our families, friends, classmates and teammates, maintaining low positivity rates while preserving in-person learning and campus engagement with few interruptions. 

Now, having reached a period of decreased infection with severe symptoms and hospitalization greatly reduced, masking guidance is changing nationally and regionally. After thoughtful deliberation from the twenty-six members of our RWU Covid Steering Committee, RWU will begin a stepped approach to masking and testing effective tomorrow.  

Our goal is to gradually reduce mask requirements, while maintaining our commitment to self-screening and consistent testing. It is also our hope to reduce testing requirements for those both fully vaccinated and boosted in April.  

To support our institutional planning going forward, RWU has implemented new Covid Operating Levels that you will see in the below chart. Starting tomorrow, February 28, RWU will move to Level 3 per the chart below and masking will be optional in all indoor settings, except the following locations where masking will remain required: 

covid_levelsfeb2022

In developing this stepped-down approach, the Steering Committee considered that we are two weeks from Spring Break and factored in implications for higher levels of Covid in the return to campus from break. Therefore, RWU will release more detailed guidelines next week for our clearance testing protocols for the return from Spring Break clearance testing guidelines to support this goal. Once back from Spring Break, we will review testing data on campus and in the community in our anticipated plan to move to Level 2 and become a mask-optional campus on March 26. 

CDC masking guidance released on February 25, 2022, focuses on Covid-related hospitalization admissions, inpatient bed utilization, and total new Covid cases per 100,000 populations in the previous 7 days. Going forward, RWU will utilize those metrics, along with RI DOH guidance, campus and county positivity rates, in determining campus operating levels and protocols relative to masking and testing.  

While many students and employees are eager to ease measures, we need to respect those various individuals in our community who remain concerned about their own health status as well as their families. Using a high-quality mask, particularly in close contact settings, remains an effective and prudent prevention measure for Covid, and we support any individuals that continue to wear masks as a preventive measure. 

Vaccines – particularly when boosted and remaining up to date with dosages – are proving to be the best and most lasting protection against severe symptoms. With a highly vaccinated campus community of over 96%, we can continue to gradually reduce prevention measures with confidence throughout the Spring semester. Most of our students have received booster shots in advance of the March 1 requirement date. Those that have yet to upload them to the health portal are urged to do so immediately and you can submit your booster information via the Health Services Student Portal using these instructions. 

CDC guidance notes: “some community settings such as schools … might include additional layers of prevention based upon information and data about the characteristics of the setting.” As a high-density congregate setting with many close contacts daily, we have ben successful by being cautious and public health-minded in our approach from the beginning of the pandemic. Now is no different. As we continue to transition from a pandemic towards the endemic phase of Covid, we will be able to keep easing restrictions and requirements. However, we also must remain vigilant and be ready to re-activate measures as necessary based on the circumstances around us.  

Thank you for all you continue to do to prioritize health and safety. This has allowed us to be together and realize the teaching, learning and mission of RWU day in and day out. Let’s keep making the smart choices that make this such a special community. Go Hawks! 

John J. King (he, him)
Vice President for Student Life

Brian Williams (he, him)
Chief of Staff

Last Updated: 2/11/2022 

Feb. 11, 2022 Update

This message is primarily intended for students on all campuses but contains important information for employees.

Our community collective response to COVID continues to demonstrate significantly lower infection rates than the region, the state, and most higher education institutions around us. Thank you for all you do to keep yourself and those around you safe and healthy. 

Through Wednesday testing, our campuses have now dropped below 1% positivity for the first time this semester – an outstanding achievement! While Rhode Island remains in a period of high transmission (367 cases per 100K population), the number of daily new cases, overall positivity rate, and hospital admissions for Covid have dropped significantly each of the past three weeks:  https://ri-department-of-health-covid-19-data-rihealth.hub.arcgis.com/

There is reason for optimism now that the Omicron surge appears to be dissipating.  We have a high vaccination rate, a fairly large number of students have developed hybrid immunity for the time being, and high participation in booster shots is expected on or before March 1.  Yet, if we have learned anything during this pandemic, it is that Covid patterns can weaken then strengthen, cycle, and that every variant has differential impact and challenges.   

Importantly and collectively, we must accept that within individuals making up our campus community, there exists varying levels of concern, health risk, and anxiety.  Covid is not done.  Thus, it is important that we approach these next months with both hope and caution while remaining prepared to pivot and return to measures we may strategically unwind in the coming months. 

Our continued testing and success as a campus will provide the foundation for the gradual, appropriate and intentional easing of Covid prevention measures and restrictions as the semester continues and warmer weather arrives. 

While you will see a relaxing of mandated masking requirements at the state level over the next month, school districts, colleges and businesses may continue to require masking.   At RWU for the current time, indoor masking remains required in all buildings on both campuses (except for two exceptions noted below) and it has been an effective practice influencing our low positivity rates so far this semester. The Covid Steering Committee will discuss our testing and masking policies in March and make recommendations for potential adjustments for the second half of the semester.

Residence Hall Masking. Masking is now optional for fully vaccinated students in residence hall common areas such as lounges and study rooms and remains required for vaccine exempt students except when in their own rooms with roommate(s). Occupancy limits for rooms, suites and apartments remain the same as last semester and questions about capacity should be referred to Residence Life staff. 

Additionally, masking remains required on all RWU sponsored shuttles or buses regardless of vaccination or booster status. 

Fitness Center Masking: As of Saturday, February 5, masks are now optional inside the Fitness Center for fully vaccinated students and we will continue to utilize the reservation system by vaccination status.  Masking remains required within all other areas within the Campus Recreation Center

Phase 3 Dining begins tomorrow (Friday, February 11): Upper Commons, Lower Commons and Baypoint will operate at full capacity dining and add additional seating. Take-out in Upper Commons and Baypoint will be discontinued after lunch tomorrow. SOL Bistro in-person dining status will be updated and communicated by the School of Law Dean’s Office.

RWU Commuters and off-campus students visitation access to Residence Halls opens tomorrow (Friday, February 11):  Commuters and off-campus students must be fully vaccinated and have tested negative in the RWU testing program for the prior two week period (* unless in 90 day non-testing period due to prior Covid infection).

Outside Guest Registration: Assuming we continue to stay under 1% positivity, we tentatively intend to reopen outside guest registration access (one guest per resident student) for the weekend of February 25 – 27. Hosts must have two consecutive weeks of negative tests through the RWU Testing Center (* above applies). Guests must be fully up to date with Covid vaccination (as of March 1 that includes booster) and comply with testing expectations communicated by Residence Life. Stay tuned for more information regarding outside guest registration policies.

Reminder:  March 1 is the Booster shot deadline for students.  Effective March 1 for this semester, all students on campus using any facilities (and guests visiting residence halls) will need to be fully up to date on their vaccine series unless they have an approved vaccine exemption. As defined by the CDC, that includes obtaining a booster shot five (5) months after completing the Pfizer or Moderna series or 2 months after completing Johnson & Johnson.

Undergraduate, full-time graduate and School of Law students should submit their updated vaccine card information including booster confirmation to the Health Services portal (instructions attached). University College students should print and submit their updated vaccine card including booster to Dean Bianco’s office at One Empire Plaza in Providence. Part-time graduate students should submit their booster information to Director of Graduate Admission Marcus Hanscom at mhanscom@rwu.edu

Questions can be directed to Covid19@rwu.edu

Go Hawks!

John J. King
(he, him, his)
Vice President for Student Life

Brian Williams
(he, him, his)
Chief of Staff

Update on In-Person Classes, Student Services, and Covid Mitigation Measures:

Congratulations and thanks to students! The University has achieved our opening semester goal to begin in-person course delivery of undergraduate and graduate courses this Monday, January 31 on the Bristol and Providence campuses and within the School of Law, on Wednesday, February 2.  Masks are required and the proper use of a high quality mask such as a KN95 is highly recommended over cloth, surgical or procedural masks to protect yourself and others in the classroom.

The Covid Response Steering Committee has also recommended opening up in-person dining, the fitness center, Inter-Residence hall visitation, student activities, club and organization meetings and providing access to students and employees to cheer on Hawks student-athletes as fans – based upon the following schedule and phases.   

Phase 2 Dining begins with Dinner this Sunday evening (January 30th) as we open up Upper Commons, Lower Commons and Baypoint for in-person dining on a reduced seating basis.  During Phase 2 Dining, take-out in Upper Commons and Baypoint will continue to be available for students not ready to return to in-person dining and those unable to find seating.  Bistro dining status will be determined and communicated by the School of Law Dean’s Office.

Visitation Between Residence Halls (Inter-Residence) by resident students opens this Friday, January 28.  This will be the first phase of opening up visitation access.  Once we have confirmed consistent testing participation from the off-campus and commuter student populations we will open up visitation to residence halls for those students.  The ability to host outside guests will not be possible or allowed for several more weeks until regional transmission rates of Covid improve significantly.

The Fitness Center will open on Sunday, January 30th (due to snowstorm opening this Saturday will not be possible).  Access will again be by reservation only by vaccine status (vaccinated, vaccine exempt) and masks will be required for all users through Friday, February 4th.  As of Saturday, February 5th vaccinated students will not be required to wear masks though they remain recommended. 

RWU students and employees are welcome to cheer on Hawk student-athletes beginning this Monday, January 31st provided all fans are wearing masks properly during the entire contest.  Family members of student-athletes will be allowed on a limited guest pass number basis through the Athletic Department.

Student events, clubs and organizations will begin in-person meetings and activities this Monday, January 31ston a phased basis (no food to start) as determined by Student Programs, Leadership & Orientation.

Masking is required on all RWU sponsored shuttles or buses regardless of vaccination or booster status with the exception of residential students within their bedrooms.  Masking remains required in residence hall common areas such as lounges through Friday, February 4th.  Occupancy limits for rooms, suites and apartments remain the same as last semester and questions about capacity should be referred to Residence Life staff.  

Masking indoors remains required in all indoor buildings on the Bristol and Providence campuses including but not limited to Libraries, the Recreation Center, lobbies, clinics, elevators, stairwells and in the food serving areas of dining facilities while not sitting and eating.

KN95 Masks were distributed on the Bristol campus at check-in for all students and being delivered to faculty and staff office suites.  Distribution will be ongoing at the Providence campus. As stated above, the University is urging all students and employees to use KN95 Masks, or other high quality masks (avoiding whenever possible cloth or clinical masks) in indoor facilities ESPECIALLY IN CLASSROOMS. We urge the purchase of replacement KN95 or similar quality masks (no discharge valves allowed).  To decontaminate and get more use out of the 3 masks we are all starting with, you can place your mask at the end of each day in a brown paper bag and keep it sealed and separate from other masks for 48 hours.  

It is the responsibility of each member of our community to have a mask with them at all times for all situations.  Clinical masks will not be available inside buildings as they were last semester.  KN95 masks are available for sale at select retail locations (including Lower Commons, School of Law Bistro, Hawks Nest Coffee Shop) and soon will be stocked in vending machines on both Bristol and Providence campuses.

Questions can be directed to Covid19@rwu.edu

We are off to a great start and this is just the beginning of a great semester!

Go Hawks!

Dr. John J. King

Chair – Covid Response Steering Committee

To the RWU Community:

Happy New Year! Winter Session, University College and School of Law are underway and over the weeks ahead, all university members will continue returning to our campuses. We have been closely monitoring the status of Covid-19 around us and using this time to review and enhance our safety protocols, as recommended by our Covid steering and operations committees. The surge of cases and prevalence of the Omicron variant requires that we strengthen our collective commitment to the measures we have utilized so successfully throughout the pandemic to protect the well-being of our RWU family and guide us through these next few months, especially as our 6,000-plus community members return to our campuses.

This communication shares important new information and details the safety measures we will have in place for a successful start to the Spring 2022 semester, including key information about testing requirements before returning to our campuses, clearance testing, move-in process, and beginning the first week with virtual classes.  

Residential and off-campus students should return to campus as scheduled for clearance testing

All classes will be held virtually for the week of January 24 through January 28. With our university community returning from locations across the country and during a period of higher travel volume and Covid infection, RWU is adding the precautionary step of holding the first week of classes virtually as we test and monitor for the presence of the virus among our campuses. This will allow us to ensure everyone has received at least two or three negative tests in the first weeks. Then we will have the information and confidence to begin in-person classes and allow for socialization – while still keeping a 6-foot distance, wearing masks at all times, and washing your hands frequently. Professors will reach out with information about accessing courses virtually for the first week. 

It is very important that residential and off-campus students return to campus as scheduled (do not stay home) so that once the clearance testing and first week of regular testing of all students and employees has been completed, we can begin in-person instruction. As we go through this clearance testing period, RWU is again implementing a quiet time on campus – and requesting that off-campus students and employees do the same in their homes – that enabled us to get started off on the right foot last spring semester. During this quiet time on campus and within your homes, we urge all university members to limit your interactions, increase masking and not gather in common areas or public spaces to protect yourself and each other from potential exposure. No outside guests will be allowed on campus during this time period.  

Student Testing Requirement Prior to Campus Return 

All students are required to test negative for Covid-19 within 72 hours (with a PCR test) or within 48 hours (with a supervised rapid antigen test) before your first day returning to the Bristol and  Providence campuses, preferably with a PCR or supervised rapid test with a printed result. Alternatively, an at-home rapid test taken on the day of departure is acceptable, provided students take a photo of the negative test result and using a pen, write their name, date of birth, and date the test was taken on the test card; you must have that photo viewable on a mobile device when you arrive at campus for check-in. A negative test result must be presented during the required student check-in process outlined below.   

Please note: Pre-arrival testing is critical because any student who lives within driving distance of campus and tests positive during arrival clearance testing will be sent home to isolate (exceptions will be made for international or students who traveled to campus by plane or train). 

This pre-arrival testing requirement applies to commuters, off-campus students, graduate students, as well as residential students.  

Employee Clearance Testing

RWU is urging all employees who are able to work remotely to continue doing so, with supervisory approval, during the week of Jan. 10. Please consult with your manager or supervisor accordingly as to this possibility. All employees are required to obtain a clearance test prior to returning to work on campus. Those employees who have been working on campus and who have continued in the university testing program during winter break are exempt from the offsite clearance test requirement. 

For employees able and authorized to work remotely during the week of Jan. 10, you are strongly encouraged to schedule an off-site test now to be conducted during your remote-work week and schedule an offsite test. In Rhode Island you can visit https://covid.ri.gov/testing to see all RI state testing locations and links to schedule appointments at area pharmacies as well. Note: Please schedule your test as soon as possible, approximately one week in advance as appointments fill quickly. Alternatively, employees can take their clearance test during testing center hours for pooled testing over the next two weeks if off-site testing is not an option for you at the following hours: 

  • Monday, Jan. 10 to Thursday, Jan 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Tuesday, Jan 18 to Thursday, Jan 20, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

As always, please report and share any positive result from off-campus testing immediately to human_resources@rwu.edu

Student Semester Check-in and Clearance Testing 

All undergraduate and graduate students will be required to participate in check-in and clearance (rapid) testing between January 21 – 24. This must be completed during the required check-in process and will be held in the Campus Recreation Center Fieldhouse. Students will not be allowed to move into residence halls or access any campus facilities, including classrooms, without evidence of a pre-arrival negative test AND a negative clearance test upon arrival on campus. 

More information about signing up for check-in and move-in times will be communicated from Student Life via Residence Life & Housing in a separate email. 

If You Tested Positive Over Winter Break 

University members who tested positive for Covid-19 during winter break are asked to submit that information to RWU. Students should submit the test results to health@rwu.edu.  Employees should submit test results to human_resources@rwu.edu

Although the CDC has recently changed its isolation period recommendations, RWU is taking a more careful approach by requiring Covid-positive individuals to isolate for 8 days. Individuals who test positive must complete the 8-day isolation followed by diligent masking in the presence of others. The 8-day isolation period, as well as any quarantine implications for vaccinated and unvaccinated close contacts, will be reviewed and adjusted by our Covid committees as necessary before and during the semester. 

Booster Guidance 

As we communicated in the Dec. 21 email, RWU is requiring Covid boosters for employees by Feb. 1 and for students by March 1. If you have not yet gotten your booster and are eligible, please do so immediately. Do not wait until the deadline. Individuals are eligible for a booster shot 2 months after receiving the J&J vaccine, 5 months after a Pfizer sequence, and 6 months after a Moderna sequence. 

Students: Submit your booster information via Health Services Student Portal, using these instructions. Employees: Email a copy or photo of your vaccination card to human_resources@rwu.edu. 

If you have recently tested positive for COVID-19, this may affect your ability to schedule your booster dose. Contact your doctor or ask a pharmacist for a recommendation on when you will be eligible.  

Regular Semester Testing  

Regular semester testing will begin the week of Jan. 24. Every person who is learning and working on our campuses is required to receive regular Covid testing at one of our campuses. We are continuing with our testing requirements as follows: 

  • Fully vaccinated students and employees will be required to test once per week.  
  • Students and employees with vaccine exemptions or are not fully vaccinated will be required to test twice per week.  
  • Additional testing requirements for in-season student athletes, as necessary, will be communicated by the Athletic Director.  

Bristol campus members must sign up for their first regular testing day(s) and time(s), starting with the week of Jan. 24. Providence campus members are not required to schedule a testing time but are expected to follow the same testing guidelines that are outlined above. 

Details and logistics for testing signup will be sent in a message next week. 

For testing center hours of operation, visit our Testing page. 

Masking  

We will continue to require indoor masking for all students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors regardless of vaccination status. Individuals may choose to remove masks when you are in an enclosed individual office, in your residence hall room, or when eating and drinking. 

The university will be providing high-protection masks to students and employees during the check-in process days to ensure a higher level of safety during close-contact interactions at the start of the semester and off-campus. We also recommend that students and employees purchase additional masks now for the semester and highly recommend purchasing verified KN95 or KN94 masks. 

As a reminder, gaiters and bandanas are not acceptable forms of masks. 

The University will not be providing supplies of clinical masks in academic buildings this semester. Therefore, it is the responsibility of students and employees to have masks with them at all times on campus in order to enter campus facilities.   

Zoom Sessions for More Information 

Join us at one of the Zoom sessions below for more information and to ask questions about the spring semester. 

Faculty and Staff: Jan. 11 at noon 

Students: Jan. 11 at 5 p.m.

Parents and Families: Jan. 11 at 6:30 p.m.

If you have any questions, please email covid19@rwu.edu

Our adaptive public health measures during the pandemic have provided us with a strong foundation to start and to finish each semester with health and safety at the forefront, while being together for an enriching, in-person education and work environment. We've proven that once we start a semester, our university Covid rate has stayed well under the communities around us. We can and will do it again. We'll assess these measures and ease them as we get past the projected height of Omicron, and then return to our normal semester activities. 

Sincerely,  

John J. King, RWU Vice President – Student Life

Brian Williams, RWU Chief of Staff

With results in from three days of testing this week compared to last week, we have realized a significant drop in the number and proportion of students in University housing testing positive. However, we are experiencing a noticeable increase in the number of students who live off-campus testing positive this week.  Within the 13 undergraduate positive cases over the past two days of testing (Tuesday, Wednesday) all but one lives in off-campus housing or commutes to campus.

As we approach the last day of classes tomorrow and the start of final exams Monday, it is very important that off-campus students refrain from hosting social gatherings indoors.

Testing remains required through final exams and the University is strongly encouraging all students to take advantage of rapid tests next week prior to returning home or traveling. The Testing Center will operate on the following schedule:

  • Monday through Wednesday, 11 am to 5 pm
  • Thursday, 11 am to 3 pm
  • Friday: Closed

In-person dining in the Dining Commons and Baypoint will resume tomorrow morning (Friday, December 9th) starting with breakfast and continue through the final exam period unless there is a significant increase in campus cases counts, especially within the residential student population.  Required masking in the Fitness Center, regardless of vaccination status, will continue through the final exam period.

Tomorrow evening between 5:00 – 8:30 in the Dining Commons and at Baypoint, RWU Dining will feature a menu consisting of “breakfast for dinner” as students begin reading days in advance of final exams on Monday.  Students may use a meal swipe or pay at the door.

Due to contract and availability issues with the food trucks originally planned for Friday evening on campus, IRHA has decided to sponsor food trucks connected to another program in January.

Information pertaining to spring semester pre-arrival testing, on campus clearance testing, vaccine boosters and check-in signups for January 21 – 23 will be communicated next week.

With the conclusion of another successful semester, we are already planning for a fully in-person Spring 2022 semester and will be continuing the Covid-19 safety protocols that have worked so well for us: having a highly vaccinated community, regular testing, and masking indoors. RWU is committed to providing an excellent educational and student experience, as we continue to navigate the pandemic with health and safety at the forefront of these spring semester updates we provide below. 

Covid-19 Booster Requirement 

RWU had an exceptional community vaccination rate for the fall semester, which was a key factor in enabling a very low weekly positivity rate in our university testing program that kept us well under 1 percent throughout the semester. Having our students, faculty and staff remain current with their vaccination levels and getting their next doses as soon as they are eligible, will maintain our high levels of health and protection for the spring semester at a time when transmission of the omicron variant is increasing across the country and globe.  

Therefore, RWU is requiring booster vaccinations for all employees and students who are working or attending class on our Bristol and Providence campuses. Employees must submit their vaccination information (copy or photo of vaccine card) to human_resources@rwu.edu by February 1. Students must submit their vaccination information via the Health Services Patient Portal (see instructions) by March 1. Returning students and employees previously approved for medical or religious exemptions will remain exempt. Requests for a vaccine booster exemption will be considered only for newly enrolled students, newly hired employees, or for current students or employees not granted a Fall 2021 exemption, but who now may meet exemption criteria based on previously unavailable facts and circumstances. 

The majority of our community is eligible now for boosters, with the full community becoming eligible by March (based on date of latest dose on file). We strongly urge that all vaccinated employees and students receive their booster vaccine as soon as they are eligible (six months after effective date of previous dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, and two months after Johnson & Johnson vaccine) and ideally before returning for the spring semester. There are many opportunities to get the next vaccination dose if you are eligible or to begin the full vaccination series. Call your primary physician’s office or search for clinics or pharmacies near your residence. For those unable to schedule a vaccine shot over break or are not yet eligible to receive one, RWU will offer booster clinics on campus early in the spring semester. 

Covid Testing 

Campus testing is operating on a limited basis on our campuses over the next month, before resuming full testing operations for the spring semester. Anyone needing a Covid-19 test should schedule a test through a state testing location (https://covid.ri.gov/testing for R.I. locations) or other testing sites, such as urgent care centers, CVS or Walgreens, or consider at-home testing kits if available. 

Bristol Campus Testing: The Bristol campus Testing Center is closed until January 9. The testing center will reopen Monday, January 10, in the Campus Recreation Center Conference Room (second floor) with the following days and hours: 

  • Monday, Jan. 10 to Thursday, Jan 13, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. 
  • Tuesday, Jan 18 to Thursday, Jan 20, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

For those who are working on the Bristol campus over winter break, you are expected to test once per week if vaccinated, twice per week for those with an approved exemption on file. 

Providence Campus Testing: The Providence campus testing center will have limited operations over the next few weeks. Testing will be held on the second floor and signup is not required: 

  • Tuesday, Jan. 4, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m.  
  • Regular testing hours for the Spring 2022 semester will resume on January 11 and continue going forward as follows:  
    • Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. 
    • Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  

Clearance Testing 

Employees returning to work in January should participate in clearance testing on the first available date at one of our testing centers on either campus. Please take extra precautions, including physical distancing measures, until you receive your results. 

All students (commuters, off-campus, residential) scheduled to attend in-person classes on the Bristol campus must participate in pre-arrival and arrival clearance testing. Students will be emailed specific requirements and sign-up links for the spring semester check-in and testing process (occurring January 21-23) on January 10.   

For Providence campus employees and students, clearance testing procedures will be communicated by Dean Gena Bianco prior to the start of classes.  

School of Law employees and students will be sent a separate communication regarding clearance and opening testing procedures for the law school’s start of their semester. 

Throughout January, RWU will continue to communicate updates and more detailed guidance related to vaccination clinics and Covid-19 safety protocols for spring semester. We also will hold zoom information sessions about what to expect for our Covid-related semester operations. 

Please continue to make smart choices and celebrate throughout the coming holiday season safely. Avoid large gatherings and use caution when traveling. We want you and your loved ones to stay safe and healthy, and we want you to return to Roger Williams healthy, Covid-free, and ready for a great 2022 spring semester.  

If you have any questions about these protocols, please email covid19@rwu.edu

Go, Hawks! 

Not surprisingly, this week our campus is experiencing an uptick in Covid cases as we return from Thanksgiving break.  After reviewing three days of test results and confirmatory testing (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) we have resulted 14 positive individuals from 13 positive pools with additional confirmation testing occurring tomorrow.  In addition, several members of the RWU community reported outside positive test results to Health Services on Sunday and Monday – most of them testing in their home communities.  The majority of the positive cases are among undergraduate students on the Bristol campus experiencing mild symptoms or no symptoms.

As the only college or university in Rhode Island still investing in testing our community members at least once a week, we have an advantage when our campus testing compliance is high – such as this week – because we have a sense of true positivity that isn’t limited to symptomatic, voluntary or occasional testing.

The number of positive cases this week doesn’t indicate an outbreak. It is the result of almost five thousand students, faculty and staff members being away from campus for a prolonged period and interacting with many different people in a region and state currently experiencing high community spread. 

We are confident that students are committed to finishing the semester in-person and with full activities. RWU is committed to that outcome and to contain and mitigate spread, the University will implement the following interim adjustments to our Covid policies:

  • Beginning 12/3, there will be only take-out dining in the Commons, at Baypoint, and at Global Heritage Hall (the atrium will still be available for study, but not for eating). For Law students, the Bistro will be open with the following changes:
     
    • No groups will be permitted at tables in the Bistro. 6’ distancing should be maintained at all times and especially when eating/drinking.
       
    • Seating and dining capacity will be reduced to promote social distancing. Masks must be worn at all times when not actively eating or drinking.
       
  • Indoor masking will continue for the remainder of the semester, including now being required at all times in the Fitness Center regardless of vaccination status.
     
  • No Guests will be allowed in residence halls after noon on Monday, Dec 6. 
     
  • All community members must continue testing once a week (for fully vaccinated individuals) OR twice a week (non-vaccinated students with approved exemptions).
     
  • Indoor masking, with the exception of residence halls for vaccinated individuals – is essential and effective. Please note that employees must continue to mask inside residence halls, regardless of vaccination status.
     
  • Students should not go to the Testing Center if experiencing Covid or Flu like symptoms. Students should call Health Services for testing.

Last week the Reopening Roger Steering Committee, comprised of students, faculty and staff, met twice to review our current Covid-19 situation on campus, locally and regionally. The President’s Cabinet spent most of our meeting yesterday discussing the recommendations of the Steering Committee, presented by Provost Margaret Everett and Vice President John King.

As a community, we have continued to improve our vaccination rates and are near 96% for students and 98% for employees in Bristol and Providence! Our comprehensive arrival clearance testing and weekly on-campus testing results were a very encouraging start to the semester. As of the end of last week, a total of 12,850 testing samples have been collected this semester in our on campus testing program; resulting in 10 students, 1 staff member and 0 faculty positive cases. We continue to utilize rapid tests for all students presenting with symptoms to Health Services on the Bristol campus and follow up any negative rapid result with quarantine until a negative PCR test is resulted. As a community, we are grateful for the incredible work of our employees involved in testing administration, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation across the University, and our health services staff.

Regionally, the Covid situation has not improved since we started classes last month. Rhode Island is experiencing strong community spread and for the past month has been among the top 5 U.S. states with the highest case counts per 100K population. While Rhode Island is currently testing more than any other state and is in the top 5 for vaccination rates, there remains cause for concern and the need for every member of our community to practice prevention – especially when off-campus, in indoor venues, or at crowded outdoor events.

RWU Indoor Masking Policy

After careful consideration of this policy by the Steering Committee and Cabinet, and further consultation with the Rhode Island Department of Health, the University will continue with indoor masking for all community members for the remainder of the semester. 

Note: Two exceptions to the policy are that masking will no longer be required for fully vaccinated students when within university housing facilities and any fully vaccinated individuals utilizing the fitness center; both of these exceptions are effective today. These changes are subject to change by the university.

The Cabinet believes that indoor masking as outlined above is the safest and most responsible path forward to ensure a full semester of in-person teaching, learning and co-curricular life. It is important to note that indoor masking in non-residential facilities remains the norm at all the other higher education institutions in Rhode Island. In addition, it is important for every member of the community to wear their masks properly, to not to eat in the classroom during class, and to not wear single-layer masks, gaiter-style masks, or masks with vents – all are prohibited on campus.

Indoor masking has proven effective when masks are worn properly, is considered a best practice for preventing transmission when regional community spread exists, and it is helping RWU keep its positivity rate low. It also helps protect those we interact with at home from infection, as well as those who are immunocompromised, regardless of vaccination status.

Compliance with University Testing Program, and Off-Campus Testing

There are two issues we wish to highlight for the campus community regarding testing. 

First, we must improve our testing participation across all students but especially among off-campus students and commuters. Until we reach higher levels of compliance, the University will have to continue stronger safety measures.

With this in mind, the University will allow guest visitation privileges in residence areas once that community reaches an 85% testing compliance rate. Currently, none of our residence areas are at this level. Each area will receive updates weekly regarding their testing participation rate. Additionally, testing participation at the individual level will be used to determine eligibility to attend senior and other student events, participation in club or intramural sports, and access to the Fitness Center. Students who repeatedly fail to be Covid-tested – full-time undergraduates who are fully vaccinated test once per week and exemption-approved students test twice per week – will face interim or full suspension. This will take students out of class as an unexcused absence, and deny access to activities and campus facilities.

We also want to address off-campus testing. Several students, faculty and staff have taken the initiative, particularly on weekends when campus testing isn’t available, to be proactive when they may have Covid-like symptoms and seek Covid testing off-campus. This is to be applauded and is helpful to all of us. However, it is important for students to immediately report positive results from any off-campus testing to studentlife@rwu.edu so that staff can respond with guidance.

In Conclusion

We are making all of our decisions with the safety and health of our campus community in mind. We are empathetic to the fact that the Delta variant has required us to adapt our original operating plans for the fall. The Reopening Roger Steering Committee will continue to meet regularly this semester and monitor the effectiveness of our protocols. 

We appreciate that students need the mental and physical break to be able to take off their masks within their residence areas and the fitness center, and we are trusting you to do this safely, only if fully vaccinated and never when experiencing symptoms. If we all keep making smart choices for ourselves and for our campus community, we will continue to have a great year together. 

For questions, please contact us through covid19@rwu.edu.

Keep up the great work, Hawks!

Sincerely,
Yannis

Congratulations! Through the combination of high vaccination rates, masking in classrooms, and strong participation in regular weekly testing, the RWU community has achieved a remarkable feat by maintaining a campus Covid positivity rate far below 1% (0.29) to this point in the semester. 

All RWU community members are expected to continue testing: Once a week for fully vaccinated individuals, or twice a week  for non-vaccinated students with approved exemptions.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GODon’t bring Covid home! Before heading off to visit with family and friends over the Thanksgiving break, all community members should test at least once in the Testing Center: 

As we approach Thanksgiving vacation and with so many traveling to see friends and relatives, please prioritize your Covid Testing Plan before leaving campus. In order to provide same day results before travel, on Sunday and Monday, we will be utilizing Rapid Tests with a 20 minute resulting period.

Note: The Bristol Testing Center will be closed Tuesday, Nov. 23. Please test before that date.

  • Sunday, November 21: 5 pm to 8 pm (Rapid Tests Only, Sunday added for Thanksgiving break only)
  • Monday, November 22: 10 am to 5 pm (Rapid Tests Only, extra morning hour added)

Return from Thanksgiving & Rest of Semester Testing Expectations

All students, faculty and staff are required to participate in pooled PCR Covid testing between Monday, November 29 and Wednesday, December 1 from 11 am to 5 pm in the Testing Center.

The University and RI DOH recommends all community members, especially those not vaccinated, to obtain a negative Covid Rapid Test result before returning to campus.

Non-vaccinated individuals will return to twice a week testing for remainder of semester.

Vaccinated individuals will return to once a week testing for the remainder of semester.

Week OfType of TestTesting Center Schedule
Dec. 6Pooled PCR

Mon-Thurs: 11 am to 5 pm

Dec. 13Rapid Test

Mon-Wed: 11 am to 5 pm; Thurs: 11 am to 3 pm

The Testing Center will close for the semester at 3 pm on Thursday, December 16th.  Information about January testing and Spring semester return and clearance testing requirements will communicated around Final Exams.  As always, questions can be directed to Covid19@rwu.edu

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Brian Williams                                                                    John King                                            

Chief of Staff                                                                      Vice President for Student Life

bwilliams@rwu.edu                                                            jjking@rwu.edu

This communication provides a revision to our fall COVID protocols shared in our July 15 campus communication in light of new regional trends with the Delta variant, as recommended by our Reopening Roger steering committee this week. 

Through the rest of August, we will welcome our students, faculty and staff back to campus and return to full operations and in-person experiences. We already have taken the ambitious step to be one of the most vaccinated communities in Rhode Island so that we can safely expand in-person learning and activities.I’m proud to say we are trending towards a 90% or greater community vaccination rate (with faculty and staff at a 97% vaccination rate). Our high vaccination rate is important as research and hospital data continue to confirm that fully vaccinated individuals are highly protected from serious illness and hospitalization and also less likely to become infected which will assist both of our campuses and the local community in the effort to reach herd immunity. 

We will implement the following safety protocols for the first three weeks of the semester and then reassess these protocols the week of September 15. Our internal university testing data from this clearance period, along with assessing the Covid cases in our surrounding communities and the state, will help us to determine whether to revise our testing frequency or masking policies at that time. 

Masking 

Beginning Monday, August 16, we will require indoor masking for all students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors regardless of vaccination status. Individuals may choose to remove masks when you are in an enclosed individual office, in your residence hall room, or when eating and drinking.

Per Centers for Disease Control and Rhode Island Department of Health guidance, masks outdoors are optional and not required for fully vaccinated individuals. However, those with vaccination exemptions will be required to wear masks outdoors unless you are able to maintain more than three feet of space from others. 

As a reminder, campus members with vaccination exemptions must always wear masks indoors, in classrooms, all campus buildings, dining areas, fitness center and common spaces, and especially when around others. 

Testing 

Regular surveillance testing will continue to be a critical measure for us to monitor for the presence of virus on our campus and allow us to act quickly to isolate any positive individuals from the community. This is proving to be essential for the Delta variant, which can be present among vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals. 

Clearance Testing 

All campus members must rapid-test when you return to campus for work or learning.  

Employees returning to campus work must receive a clearance test from now through Aug. 30. Faculty and staff who have been participating in our summer testing program may continue with their regular testing schedule and do not need to report for an additional clearance test. 

Clearance testing for employees will be held at the following locations and dates on the Bristol campus:  

Building #23 (the former English Language School Building, at the rear of the Recreation Center):  

Monday, Aug. 16 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Tuesday, Aug. 17 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.  

Wednesday, Aug. 18 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Monday, Aug. 23 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. 

Tuesday, Aug. 24 from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.  

Wednesday, Aug. 25 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Global Heritage Hall Atrium

Monday, Aug. 30 from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
 

Residential students will receive a rapid test on their move-in day. This must be completed during the required check-in process you register for and will be held in Global Heritage Hall. Students will not be able to attend classes, move into residence halls, or enter campus facilities without this clearance test.  

  • Fully vaccinated residential students will be required to test once per week from their move-in date until further notice. 
  • Residential students with vaccine exemptions will be required to test twice per week from their move-in date until further notice. 
  • All students with vaccine exemptions are required to come to the campus check-in process with a negative PCR test result within 72 hours of arrival. 

Providence Campus testing will be held on the second floor and the hours will be Tuesdays, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., and Wednesdays, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; testing signup is not required. You may come at any time for your weekly test during Providence testing hours.  

All other students, including commuters, off-campus students, graduate students and law students, must sign up for and receive a clearance test prior to the first day of classes. Keep an eye on your email for a communication regarding the check-in process required of all students coming soon. 

Regular Semester Testing 

Regular semester testing will begin the week of Aug. 30. Every person who is learning and working on our campuses will be required to receive regular COVID testing. Bristol campus members must sign up for their first regular testing day(s) and time(s), starting with this week. 

  • Fully vaccinated individuals will test once per week. 
  • Those with vaccine exemptions will test twice per week. 
  • Additional testing requirements for student athletes in season, if determined necessary, will be communicated by the Athletic Director. 

Regular semester testing will begin on Aug. 30 and will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Thursday, for the rest of the semester. 

On Aug. 30, those who sign up for Monday regular testing will report to the GHH Atrium for that day only. 

Beginning, Aug. 31, testing will be 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Thursday, in the Recreation Center Conference Room, located on the second floor. 

Testing Sign Up 

Testing signup for the week of August 30 is now enabled in the Project Beacon testing web platform. You will log in to Beacon (app.beacontesting.com) to sign up: 1) Simply click on the black “Schedule Test” button 2) Select “RWU Surveillance Testing” and select a “Testing Site” and 3) Pick an available 20-minute appointment block for that week. Note: The day/time you select for the week of August 30 will be your scheduled testing time for the full semester.  

It is important that you register your Beacon account and sign the consent form on the platform before you show up for campus testing. This platform will be in use throughout fall semester and is the place where you can review your testing results. All community members will receive a registration email from support@beacontesting.com – this is not a spam or phishing message. A link in the email will bring you to their website, where you will digitally agree to the testing consent form and schedule your tests.  

The university will continue to communicate any changes in the frequency of testing required of individuals throughout the semester. Be sure to check your RWU email regularly.

Isolation and Quarantine Procedures 

Like last year, the university will provide isolation and quarantine spaces in Baypoint for residential students. Any student testing positive, regardless of vaccination status, will be required to isolate. Close contacts of positive students who are not vaccinated will be required to enter quarantine. Close contacts of positive students who are vaccinated will at this time not be assigned to quarantine, but must self-monitor for symptoms and test an additional time each week for two weeks.   

It is critical that every community member cooperate with contact tracers and provide accurate information. Additional information about Q&I protocols and procedures will be communicated prior to the start of classes. 

#MakeSmartChoices 

Even though the pandemic remains with us at a new level many had not anticipated due to the Delta variant, our community has a spirit that allows us to come together during challenging times – and we will do it again this year! It is the choices we each make to prioritize our safety and well-being that results in our continued success. We all have a shared responsibility to help reduce community spread and to protect each other. 

I ask you all to make smart choices in these weeks leading up to move-in or return to work by limiting your exposure to large crowds and indoor settings unless masked. There is uncertainty about what to expect from the virus and variants in the months ahead, but we will be guided in our operations and safety measures by what is happening around us and what our community testing data tells us. 

Continue to check your email regularly for updates and we will soon fully update the Reopening Roger website, where you can visit throughout the year for information on our campus safety protocols and to monitor Covid-19 testing and cases via our dashboard.  

We can make this another great year, with all the opportunities for learning and a vibrant campus life that we have planned. We’re so excited to welcome our new community members and have you all back for a terrific academic year. 

We will host two different zoom sessions for students next week to address your specific questions about the Bristol campus student experience. Check your email for the invitation links: 

  • Returning students on Tuesday, August 17 at 5:30 p.m.  
  • New first-time students on Thursday, August 19 at 5:00 p.m.  

For all other questions, please contact us through covid19@rwu.edu.

Sincerely,
Yannis