Fall 2020 Student Health Notifications and Related FAQS

We hope that your semester is off to a good start, and that you and your students are settling into the routine of classes.  The university has launched a COVID Tracker – https://web.uri.edu/healthservices/covid-19/tracker/ – which displays the number of COVID-19 tests conducted and the number of positive test results received by date and cumulatively. 

Faculty will be notified by the student’s assistant dean if a student needs to be out of the classroom for any medically necessary reason, including COVID-protocol quarantine or isolation, even if they are not COVID positive.  The notification will include how long the student will be out of class and the date they will be able to return to face-to-face classes, based on the guidelines described below. Faculty should accommodate these students without penalty and students may continue to engage in online classes as their health permits. 

Please note that most students in isolation/quarantine are not COVID positive.  The number of positive COVID cases is much lower and is available on the URI COVID Tracker.

COVID Isolation – A typical isolation period is 10 full days.  

Isolation positive – Patients with a positive test result are considered isolation positive and must isolate for 10 full days from the onset of symptoms or the positive test collection date, if asymptomatic.

Isolation negative – Patients who present with possible COVID symptoms, but who test negative, are considered isolation negative and must self-isolate, but may be cleared to return to class sooner than 10 days, upon resolution of symptoms and return to normal health.  Please note that all students who present with cold/flu/allergy symptoms will be tested and directed to self-isolate.

COVID QuarantineQuarantine is for individuals identified as a close contact to someone who is COVID infected, but not necessarily COVID positive themselves.  The quarantine period is 14 full days from the initial date of exposure.  According to the CDC, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes. 

What happens when a student tests positive? 

URI Health Services is working with the RIDOH and will advise close contacts to quarantine for 14 days and not attend face to face (f2f) classes.  Based on the current configuration of URI classrooms, it is expected that all students and faculty in f2f classes have maintained the six-foot physical distance and therefore would not to meet the definition of a close contact based on classroom exposure (15 mins. or more without maintaining six-foot distancing).  

Can I still teach my F2F class if one of my students reports that they have tested positive? 

As long as you are adhering to the physical distancing and mask wearing requirements in class, you can proceed with your f2f class.  Remember – students in quarantine and most students in isolation have not tested positive.

Can I tell my class that a student in the class has tested positive? 

Following FERPA guidelines, URI Health Services will handle notification to the close contacts and currently it is not recommended by RIDOH that the entire class be notified unless contact tracing finds that the class did not adhere to physical distancing, in which case all those who were in close contact will notified and required to quarantine.

What should I do if I receive absence letters or self-reports for multiple students in my class?

We want to hear from you if you are concerned about the number of isolation/quarantine cases in your class.  We will be monitoring isolation and quarantine data in collaboration with Health Services and will reach out to faculty if we identify a cluster of COVID-positive students who have one or more classes in common.  Please reach out to Vice Provost Anne Veeger (aveeger@uri.edu) if you are concerned about the number of reports relative to the size of your class.  

Thank you for the time and energy you have devoted to preparing for the semester and supporting your colleagues and students.  I wish you all the best as we move forward in this most unusual semester.