Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: 4/15/2021

Do you have a question about how the University is responding to the pandemic?

Someone else may have raised the same question: Please take a look through the Frequently Asked Questions – and answers – on this page, on these topics:

And if we haven't answered your question yet, please reach out:


Are students required to have a COVID-19 test before arriving on campus? 

We strongly recommend testing in advance, but it is not required. Receiving a positive test at home will allow you to delay arrival on campus, stay safe at home and near family doctors, instead of being surprised at move-in by testing positive here and starting your semester in isolation.  RWU will only require copies of any positive test results done remotely. Not getting tested before arrival on campus will not affect a student’s move-in process in any way.

Is there a preference of which type of COVID test is accepted for pre-arrival? 

A PCR test is preferred over a rapid antigen test, as the PCR test is more accurate. 

Will families be allowed to move students into their residences? 

We are limiting the total number of people helping on move-in days. For spring semester, one person may accompany each student to their room. Anyone assisting students should be prepared to be screened for temperature as a safety precaution.

Will students still need to quarantine at check-in if they have a negative test result 72 hours prior to move in? Could they go out for groceries etc.? 

You should shop for groceries before completing the move-in process, if at all possible. Being negative is great, but “protecting” that negative result means once on campus, not breaking quarantine for a final lunch, goodbye or grocery run. 

If students have been working on campus throughout winter intersession and have been routinely tested since Thanksgiving, will we also have to quarantine as other students move in? 

Yes, while you testing negative is excellent, the quarantine period also protects you from others returning to campus who have not been testing as you have. 

How long do students need to quarantine when moving in? 

It is a modified quarantine. Students may interact with their roommates and get take-out food until the first test. All students need 2 or 3 negative tests before attending in-person classes. 

How long will classes be remote at the beginning of the semester? 

The first two days of classes will be remote to allow time for testing and safe opening. In-person classes will begin meeting after those first two days, on February 3rd. 


How is RWU going to monitor students’ comings and goings in the dorms?   

We will clearly communicate to students the importance of safe interaction, use of face coverings, etc., but we are not banning movement. We are, however, implementing a "no outside guest" policy for the 2020-21 academic year that prohibits students from bringing guests into the residence halls or other shared facilities on campus. 

What percentage of students will be on campus for the spring semester?  

We expect that around 65% to 70% of students will be on campus. 

Can first-year students bring cars on campus? 

We will consider requests from students over 80 miles and other special circumstance requests of students in good academic standing. For more information, email John King at 

Are there any restrictions on returning home on weekends and then coming back to campus on Sunday nights? 

Particularly at the start of the semester, we are advising students to remain on campus even over the weekends.  As we see (hopefully) improvement in the spread of COVID, this may ease up. 

Will students living on campus be allowed to have other on-campus students visit them? 

Residential students will have intra residence hall visitation access privileges with all residents WITHIN their residence area (for example, Cedar within Cedar, Bayside within Bayside). The individual room capacities will remain the same as established by residence life for the fall semester.  For gatherings in a room that include more than roommates – individuals should be masked and maintain physical distance. 

The above policy will be reviewed on February 10th by assessing positivity rates on campus, in Bristol and in Rhode Island – as well as state guidance in effect regarding social gatherings.  Our goal is to be in a position to allow inter residence hall visitation (between residence areas) as soon as possible consistent with last semester’s approach. 

Off-Campus apartments and houses will be subject to the “within one household” expectation per current RI social gathering guidelines.   

Commuters and Off-Campus Students will not have residence hall visitation access.  This policy will be reviewed again on March 15th 

Are off-campus visitors allowed to visit the dorms if they get a COVID test first? 

Consistent with the fall semester, non-residential student guests are not permitted in residence halls. If your friends are residents in the same building, you will be able to visit each other. 

If a student decides to do remote only, do they have to move out of their dorm? 

They can remain in the dorm, but should verify with their professors that remote only is OK for their classes. 


How do I find out which of my classes are virtual and which are in-person?  

In Roger Central, if the course has "ONLN" as a location code, it is a fully online course. 

Will I be given the option to complete all of my courses online and not have to come to campus at all, or is alternating attendance mandatory? 

Students who wish to be completely remote for the Spring 2021 term (i.e. accessing all their classes online with NO in-person classes) should build their spring schedule in RogerCentral by selecting “Online Only” and “In-Person/Remote Optional” under the Course Types filter. Once the remote schedule is finalized, students should complete this form with the Advising and Peer Mentorship Office, to notify the University of their intent to be remote. 
For more detailed information and FAQs, visit the Advising and Peer Mentorship web page.  

What are the options for study abroad? 

We currently have several short-term, faculty-led programs scheduled for the Summer 2021 term.  Of course, we are continuously monitoring travel and health conditions in these locations to determine program viability. We want to be cautiously optimistic that these programs will be able to run. 

While the pandemic continues to impact travel conditions globally, we are moving cautiously ahead with Fall 2021 program applications and are encouraging interested students to complete Fall 2021 study abroad applications. The deadline is March 1 and you can visit the Study Abroad Portal to start the process.    

Will there still be a spring break or will the students just work through the semester? 

The University will work through spring break due to the late start. The decision has been made not to have spring break in order to keep students, faculty and staff on campus and not be exposed to others who might not be following guidelines as closely. There will be no classes on April 2. 

Spring Semester Testing 

I am concerned about the new, more contagious variant of COVID. How will RWU address this issue in the spring semester? 

The Broad testing on campus does detect the new variant, so testing will continue to identity positive cases from any virus strain and variant thus far. We must be vigilant about masking, cleaning, and distancing, since the transmission rate is higher for the new variant. In the fall, thanks to our protocol, RWU had an overall COVID-19 positivity rate of 0.2%. 

If I tested positive for COVID-19 during Winter Break, should I still sign up for a testing time? 

Yes, you should sign up for testing days and times now, even though you will not use them right away. You do not want your days/times to be closed out as an option and not available to you later when you begin testing. For the start of semester, you will be exempt from testing until the 90-day period after your positive test has been reached. If the date of your positive test is on record with RWU, we will send you an email with your personalized link to sign up for testing the week that your 90- day timeline is up.

Where is the testing center? 

Move-in testing will be located in the Field House, like last semester.  After Jan 30, testing will move to the Upper Gym. 

How often will members of the community be tested? 

For all students, faculty and staff who are learning and working on campus regularly and expect to have person-to-person interactions, the default expectation is to be tested twice weekly. Students, faculty, and staff who will have limited interactions and time on campus may test once weekly. Students, faculty, and staff who are fully remote and will not be on campus will not be tested at RWU. 

I am fully remote this semester. Do I need to sign up for COVID-19 testing and complete a daily screening? 

No, this is not necessary for remote students, faculty, and staff. 

Even if I do not need to come to campus, would I still be eligible for COVID-19 testing at RWU? 

No, testing is offered only for students, faculty, and staff who will be on campus, either full- or part-time, this spring semester. 

Do I need to be tested for COVID-19 if I will be visiting campus only briefly? 

It is not necessary to be tested in advance of infrequent, short-in-nature campus visits where you have no person-to-person interaction.

However, masks must be worn at all times on campus (inside and outside buildings) and all other practices for cleaning and physical distancing must be strictly followed. 

What is the policy/procedure for COVID-19 testing for students who are commuting every day to RWU? 

The procedure is the same. You'll test twice weekly on a regular schedule, picking a set time that works with your schedule. That time will stay with you for the semester. 

What are the testing times for the Providence Campus, including University College?

Providence campus testing is on a walk-in basis, no appointment required. 

  • Tuesday mornings, 7:30 – 10am 
  • Wednesday afternoons, 3 – 6pm 

Can Bristol faculty and staff utilize the Providence Campus for testing, routinely or occasionally? 

Yes. And Providence-based faculty and staff may sign up to test in Bristol as well. 

How should people who are only on campus Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule their tests? 

Testing near 72 hours apart is ideal. However, if you are not able to come to campus on other days just for your test, then consider testing early Monday and late Wednesday, to spread two tests as far apart as possible. 

If I need to get a test off-campus, where can one get a COVID-19 test in Rhode Island? 

Here is a link to locations of COVID testing in Rhode island.  

Quarantine & Isolation 

What is the plan for a residential student who tests positive for COVID-19 during the semester? Would they be kept on campus, or sent home and allowed to return after 14 days?  

Students are immediately notified via phone call of a positive test result and will be directed to isolate and be prepared for contact tracing – for us to ask where you've been, etc. – so we can notify others accordingly.  

If you are confirmed as a close contact and were near someone that recently testing positive, the quarantine period has been revised for Spring 2021. Depending on whether it is safe and possible for you to quarantine at home, you may do that, or go to Baypoint to quarantine. See the Quarantine and Isolation page for complete details. 

Do students need to bring sheets for a quarantine at Baypoint? 

There will be a basic linen set that will include a sheet, pillow, blanket, etc. available. However, we recommend that you pack whatever will make you comfortable during your stay (i.e. sheets, pillows, additional blankets). 

If a student tests positive, how are meals provided?

An information sheet and a meal ordering app are provided in each isolation and quarantine room. Food is delivered and provided to students. 

If student has to quarantine or isolate off campus, is transportation provided? 

If students need to move to Baypoint, they will be provided transportation. Our Contact Tracing staff will ask questions for their movement. 

If a student tests positive, what happens to their roommate? 

The roommate would be given proper advice to monitor their symptoms and may be immediately be tested. In the fall, we had very few cases of a student testing positive and spreading it to a roommate, thanks to adherence to our protocol. 

Will students be contacted if they have been in contact with someone on campus who tests positive? 

We will speak with members of the campus community who test positive to learn about their contacts and recent activity on campus. RWU will contact anyone who may have been within six feet of anyone who tests positive for more than fifteen minutes about this potential exposure.  

If an off-campus student needs to quarantine, will Baypoint be available to them so as not to expose other roommates? Will they be able to receive guidance for how to proceed with their living situation (should they stay there, return home, etc.)?  

The students will receive guidance from campus. We will walk them through all of their options. There are so many hypothetical situations that may occur: An off-campus student being able to isolate in their off-campus apartment safely; an off-campus student going home to isolate; and times when an off-campus student may have a shared roommate and a living situation, such as an at-risk roommate, where it may be best to have them isolate in Baypoint. All are possible, but non-residential students who need to reside in isolation housing will be assessed flat space and meal plan fee. See these helpful guides for more information 

What is the average number of days out of classes if a student does get COVID? How many days are they spending off campus? 

The student will need to isolate for 10 days from the time of the positive test or from the onset of symptoms. During this time, their only option will be to attend classes virtually vs. in person. If they are well enough to attend virtual classes, they may not ‘miss’ any class time at all. Students will communicate with professors to work out a plan for keeping up with their classes while in isolation. 

If a student is positive and then isolates for the proper time period, will they be able to interact with in-person classes as well as interacting with her small group? 

Yes, a student who tests positive and completes required isolation will be able to attend in-person classes and interact with others, with no restrictions. 

Will students be tested and have their results before departing at the end of the semester? 

Students will test before departing on their normal testing days. 

How often is RWU's Data Hub Updated? 

The RWU COVID Testing Data dashboard provides up-to-date results from our Broad Institute testing partnership. The information is updated within a few hours of receiving the most recent day’s testing results. The timing of when the testing dashboard is updated varies based on two factors – whether we conducted testing the previous day and the turnaround time for receiving test results, ranging between 18 hours to 24 hours. Our lab partner, the Broad Institute, provides diagnostic services to universities and colleges around the region. 


If I have been vaccinated, do I need to show proof of a negative COVID test in order to attend Commencement?

All attendees for Commencement, event those who have received a vaccination, must provide a negative test result of a recent COVID test in order to participate in the event. This is a requirement from the State of Rhode Island for our event.

Vaccines are designed to keep YOU safe (minimize and prevent your symptoms); but a negative COVID test will keep everyone at Commencement safe. Even when you are vaccinated, the science right now shows us that vaccinated individuals can still carry and spread COVID to others. 

We know we will not have wide vaccination coverage for all visitors at Commencement.

Do I need to let RWU know if I am vaccinated?

Students or employees who have received the first or second dose of any of the current Covid vaccines should provide that information to the University. 

Students may enter their vaccination information through the Health Services Patient Portal and upload proof of vaccination. 

Faculty and staff should send a copy of their vaccination card to Those receiving the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine should send a copy of the vaccination card to Human Resources after each dose is administered to keep your records up to date. Reach out to Sue Guilmette with any questions.

I'm having side effects from the vaccine that are similar to COVID symptoms. What should I do?

Some community members who have received the vaccine have reported experiencing side effects similar to COVID symptoms and are, therefore, being flagged when completing the daily screening form. The COVID daily screening does not adapt its replies to you based on symptom cause – due to the COVID vaccine or due to the presence of COVID-19 or other.

For those who are experiencing side effects following vaccination: If you are feeling sick, do not come to campus. If the sickness is a direct result of the vaccination, employees may use COVID sick days for this brief absence. 

Vaccine side effects typically subside within a day or so following the inoculation. Assuming this occurs, individuals should return to campus normally. If vaccine information has been reported to Human Resources or Health Services, individuals can return to campus and to the testing program without issue.

If I got a flu shot at the RWU flu clinic in the fall, do I need to submit any paperwork to return to campus? 

If you received a flu shot at our clinic, this paperwork was provided by the clinic.  You filled out this paperwork while you waited in line for your flu shot. You do not need to submit anything else. 

How do I submit proof of a flu vaccine? 

Email proof of your flu vaccine to Sue Benevides and cc:

Have there been conversations – or will there be – with RIDOH about the University being a distribution site for vaccines for employees, when different groups are eligible? 

Yes. They have asked us about our capacity to do so and our ability to refrigerate and store vaccines. No decision about timing has been determined yet, but we are in contact regularly and will provide information as it is available. 

The Rhode Island Department of Health has issued guidance to universities and colleges across the state that employees working at higher education institutions are not currently eligible as “educators” to receive the vaccine at this time. Rhode Island’s current administration plan for vaccination related to educators is specific to K-12 (public, private, parochial, and independent schools, and licensed child care providers), not universities. In general, members of the RWU community are currently only eligible through their municipality or by their specified-age groups. Please refer to state and municipal websites and our Reopening Roger newsletter for continued updates as valid sources of information. RWU continues to monitor this regularly and advocate for our priority status with RIDOH on a regular basis.

If the COVID vaccine becomes widely available, would it be mandated similar to the flu shot? 

Once the vaccine is readily available, we would definitely consider requiring it, with religious or medical exceptions, just as with the flu shot. Due to the current state of the vaccine rollout, it is unlikely this will be possible during the spring semester timeline. 

Will I need to be tested on campus if I have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19? 

Yes. Any individual who has received a COVID-19 vaccine is still required to sign up for and follow campus testing protocol . You should email proof of vaccine to Health Services at

Medical experts are saying that while you are safer and may not show symptoms when vaccinated, there is still a chance that you could carry and transmit COVID-19 to others. Staying in the testing program after vaccination helps ensure everyone else around you (who may not be vaccinated) is protected. As such, there may still be a need to isolate or quarantine for those who have been vaccinated. 

While we are waiting for clearer guidance from the CDC and RIDOH, please let Health Services know you have been vaccinated, and we'll keep you on mailing list so we can let you know of any changes in guidance that arise. 

If I was vaccinated and I tested positive, do I have to go into isolation? 

The vaccine protects you; being in the testing program protects others around you. If you test positive, you can still spread the virus to others. If you test positive, you will still have to go into isolation unless new data indicates that vaccinated people do not spread COVID-19. 

COVID-19 Fee 

Why is there a COVID fee for the spring semester? 

Families have an assessed a COVID fee which partially offsets all of the costs of the semester (testing, contact tracing, and other measures we have put in place), the university has invested a significant amount beyond the fee itself.  Consider that testing costs for students twice per week would equate to $750 per semester, per student. The fee families are paying is $98, less than 20% of the actual cost.  

Is there a specific date that the COVID-19 fee is due? 

It is on the spring semester bill.  You should see the charge already posted.  It’s a semester fee of $98 due when you pay your balance for the semester. 

I will only be attending RWU in-person for a part of the semester. Can I have a refund for part of my testing fee? 

The semester COVID-19 fee is $98 dollars, and our actual COVID testing costs $25 per test. The fee is not just for testing, but helps to offset much more of our safety measures as well. Even if student enters testing in April, they will get more than 4 tests by the end of the semester ($100 of testing). We have already lowered the charge to students as much as we could, and cannot reduce it further. 

I was already vaccinated. Do I still have to pay the COVID-19 fee? 

Yes. Students that have been vaccinated are still participants in our campus testing program and must past the fee. COVID vaccines are designed to minimize risk and symptoms: keeping people out of hospitalization and keeping people alive. Vaccines are not designed to minimize transmission. You can still have it and spread it to others. 

Campus Resources 

How can I safely refill my water bottle on campus? 

Many water stations on campus are sensor- based and touch free. Traditional hand-press fountains have been turned off as a health precaution, and will not be in use. 

Will the library be opened for students to use during the spring 2021 semester?  

Yes, but with reduced seating capacity throughout. 


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