Welcome back! Let’s all help URI have a successful spring semester

This message is sent on behalf of Kathy Collins, Dan Graney and Ellen Reynolds in URI’s Division of Student Affairs

As we welcomed you back to virtual classes this week, we are even more eager to actually be in-person for classes and labs starting Feb. 1. Thank you to all of you for participating in surveillance testing for COVID-19 as you moved back to surrounding communities or on-campus housing. While the virus continues to disrupt our lives and well-being, we remain hopeful that the vaccination strategy for the country will substantially improve in the coming weeks and months.

As we await guidance on when each of us will be eligible for a vaccine, we must be vigilant in adhering to the health guidelines in place at URI to prevent further transmission of the virus.

Unfortunately, University officials have received police reports and notifications of multiple social gatherings during the past week that substantially exceeded the social gathering limits in place for Rhode Island and our Rhody community. Students involved in these events have been referred to Conduct; several students have already been placed on emergency suspension.

We understand that everyone is tired of being isolated. But at the same time, many of us are excited to begin the spring semester together. Since Jan. 22, 2020, URI has conducted almost 80,000 tests for students, faculty and staff and has had only 1,100 positive cases. Thankfully, that’s an overall positivity rate of 1.39%. This past week we have tested over 7,000 returning members to our community and have seen a less than 1% positivity rate. At URI, we have done a commendable job of keeping large, non-socially distant gatherings to a minimum and we must remain firm in our commitment to continue this healthy behavior.

We have all worked so hard since March 2020 to stick together, follow the health guidelines, and support each other during this devastating pandemic. We must recommit to adhering to the state’s requirements to keep our Rhody community healthy, protect the health of our neighboring community members, and demonstrate how we are #Rhodytogether!

As a reminder, the following are the guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Rhode Island Department of Health that help prevent the spread of the virus:

  • Always wear a mask! Especially when on campus, in a carpool, and when visiting friends with whom you don’t live
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Maintain 6 feet of physical distance from other individuals
  • Participate in bi-weekly surveillance testing at the Memorial Union
  • Limit social gatherings to those you live with. This means that each one of us should continue to restrict the total number of people with whom we interact to the smallest number of individuals possible.

Thanks to all of you for doing your part to keep the URI community and our neighboring communities safe and healthy. URI continues to work with our partners at the Rhode Island Department of Health to advocate for vaccine prioritization for our faculty, staff and students. We will continue to communicate updates as we receive them.