This message is being sent on behalf of Vice President for Student Affairs Kathy Collins
We are all still in the fight against COVID-19. I write today to urge you to follow health guidelines and the URI Student Handbook as we work together to make it to Thanksgiving. We know that many of you are traveling this weekend and we wish you safe travels and ask that you follow all health guidelines during your trip.
Reminder: For those of you traveling to hotspots, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days when you return to Rhode Island. Current states that are hotspots include those with a COVID-19 positivity rate of 5% or higher.
I am incredibly proud of the many steps we have taken together to fight the virus. As a university community, we have:
- Tested all on-campus students and Greek house residents at move-in
- Initiated mandatory testing for all students (and to date over 4,000 of you have responded!). We continue to invite more students to test each day.
- Conducted symptomatic testing, barrier free at Student Health Services
- Conducted contact tracing on hundreds of students
- Housed students who have tested positive from on and off campus at local hotels at no additional cost
There are several areas where we as a community can improve to ensure we make it to Thanksgiving. I am concerned about the spread of the virus in our off-campus community and the large social gatherings on the weekends on campus in the residential area. I want you to know that we have seen the virus spread quickly among groups of friends, students car-pooling together with no masks on, etc.
Remember that the guidelines tell us to keep a consistent group, a pod of up to 15 people. This guideline has been interpreted by some as, “I am OK if I am in a group of 15 and then another group of 15 and then another…” It is not OK.
To be in a consistent small group is one of the most important things we can do to limit the spread of infection on campus. It will also make it easier for contact tracing should a student test positive. We ask our Rhody RamFam to create a small, consistent group of 15 and stick together.
On-campus, large groups of students gathering in the residential area on Friday and Saturday evenings have become more and more resistant to our attempts to encourage adherence to the guidelines.
We want you to know that if this risky behavior continues this weekend, we will need to implement an on-campus curfew starting October 16. The curfew would be from 11 p.m. until 7 a.m. Please do your part to change behavior on campus so a curfew is not needed. Do not be part of any nighttime gatherings over 15 and stay with your same social group.
As you know, due to the virus this year, we have had to implement policies to limit students from one residence hall visiting another hall. We know this is difficult. We know you want to visit your friends, but we need to stop the spread of the virus. To date, hundreds of you have violated the visitation policy. Know that this behavior will result in referral to the student conduct process. We also know that others have had guests from other campuses visiting in the residence halls; this too is against our policies and will be referred to conduct.
Working together is the only way we make it to Thanksgiving and continue to deliver face-to-face classes on campus. To do this, we must all be diligent in fighting the virus spread, and take actions to protect ourselves and our friends and family members. We know this is hard and we know we can do this together.
Kathy Collins, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs
University of Rhode Island