COVID Testing Program Launched, Students Moving In

After months of planning and preparation, with health and safety in mind at every step, the University is resuming in-person and residential operations.

By Anna Cohen
image of main entrance sign at RWU's Bristol Campus

BRISTOL, R.I. – The moment the RWU community has been anticipating – eagerly and with some concern – is finally here. 

This week, new and returning students are arriving at the Bristol campus as part of a spread out, phased process to move into student housing and prepare for the semester ahead. 

“It feels really good to be here. I’m really excited. I’m ready for this step,” said RWU freshman Lexi Rynning, who was joined by her parents for the move-in process.

“We have a bunch of family friends and her good friends whose schools are all online this fall, so the fact that we are able to come to campus is a major relief. The excitement factor is amped up. It makes it even that much better,” said Rynning’s mother, Suzanne. 

“It feels fantastic,” said Alex Mitchell, who arrived on Monday to begin his freshman year at RWU. “I wanted a change of scenery.” 


From reduced density to increased cleaning protocols, this week is far from the usual "move-in" for Residence Life and Housing. Every student is COVID tested upon their arrival to campus. Then, they quarantine in their rooms until receiving a negative result, which is expected within 24 hours.

“Hang tight until you get your test results back, then you can interact,” said Zach Raso, Cedar Community Director, who has been on campus every day to help arriving students settle in. With testing and social distancing protocols in action, Raso reports the mood of move-in days – from parents, students, and RAs – feels upbeat and positive. 

“Even with restrictions, we can still have a good year,” RA Andrea Arriaja said. 

More information on living at RWU is available here


Screening, testing, and tracing are at the heart of RWU’s reopening strategy. Partnering with the Broad Institute, RWU is providing regular, frequent SARS-CoV-2 testing for staff, faculty, and students on both the Bristol and Providence campuses. Test results and data are available to the public at on RWU’s Data Hub, which provides high-level metrics for the testing program. 

“Testing is going fabulously,” said Anne Mitchell, MSN, Director of Health Services at RWU. “We are getting test results in less than 24 hours, which is great. It’s easy. People come in and are a little bit nervous, but it is a simple test”

“I took my test Thursday and had my results Friday morning," said Allison Chase Padula, Associate Dean of Student Success. "It gives you a sense of confidence being here, because you know everybody is being tested,” she said.  

In the case of positive test results, RWU has prepared protocols for contact tracing, quarantine, and isolation procedures to protect the campus community. 

More information on testing is available here


On the Bristol campus, classrooms have been reconfigured for social distancing and equipped with cameras and microphones to make both in-person and remote education possible. Professors are prepared to reach students through flexible learning options, including livestream, class capture, simulcasting or flipped asynchronous instruction, on top of in-person education. 

“The changes we’ve had to make for COVID health-related reasons mean that you’re going to have some very meaningful smaller interactions with faculty and students that are going to really help your learning,” said Cynthia Scheinberg, Dean of the School of Humanities, Arts, and Education. 

All University College classes will be offered fully online or as a hybrid option. 

More information on learning is available here


image of the large dining tent on the SAAHP quad at RWU's Bristol Campus
The new outdoor dining tent will be open for weekday lunch and dinner starting August 26.

“We have a big challenge, but the university has positioned itself for success,” said Jon Cambra, Executive Chef. “It’s a new way of doing things, for sure.” 

Changes to on-campus dining, provided by Bon Appetit, include an emphasis on take-out service at every dining station. Chefs are preparing composed entrees for grab-and-go meals, and newly installed plexiglass shields protect staff – and food – wherever it is served. 

A new outdoor dining tent stands out on the SAAHP quad, which will be open for weekday lunch and dinner starting August 26, featuring a barbecue-themed menu. 

For Cambra, RWU’s commitment to its pandemic protocols is not only professional, but personal as well. 

“My daughter is coming here as a freshman this year, so I’ve been following the reopening plan as a parent, too. The University has really done a great job,” he said.

More information on dining is available here