PROVIDENCE, R.I., -- A Rhode Island College Campus Police officer has tested positive for the coronavirus this week. College employees claim that the officer’s illness is due to recent contact with a residential student who had contracted COVID-19 and a lack of sufficient details about the student’s condition.
According to a log obtained by WPRI, the student had been quarantined on campus since November 5th and did not have an expected end date. One officer asserted that “Quarantine could mean [the student] had been in Texas or Florida.” The officer, who asked WPRI not to be identified, said, “if the student had COVID, it should say that.”
RIC spokesman John Taraborelli said, “at no point did a campus police officer come into contact with an active COVID-19 case on campus....This has been confirmed by the Department of Health.”
The RI Council 94, which represents 175 RIC employees claimed that the college’s assertions were misconstrued. Anthony Peters, the president of Local 2878 of RI Council 94, said, “They, as in the officer and the student, were face to face.” Peters also stated that eight officers who came into contact with the infected officer were asked to quarantine, yet due to their status as essential workers, officers were told to quarantine at work.
“I don’t think it’s fair at all. Four days down the line they may be positive and spread it. It doesn’t make any sense.” Peters told WPRI. The RI Council 94 will also be filing a grievance over the issue making it the sixth grievance filed by the union over COVID-19 issues, three of which have been settled.
The first grievance filed by Council 94 against the school was in March of this year when multiple employees were asked to clean a dorm room where a student who had been positive for COVID-19 had been quarantining. The employees asserted that they had not been informed about the positive COVID-19 case.
Subsequent grievances filed have been in regards to a case in early April in which the Campus Police station was not sanitized even though an employee who had tested positive for COVID-19 had recently been there. Another grievance filed in last Spring was to get a housekeeper who had been quarantined after cleaning the office of a staff member with COVID-19 paid time off.
According to the RIC website, as of Friday, there have been 46 COVID-19 cases amongst the RIC campus community, including four cases since November 3rd. RIC says that about 73% of positive COVID-19 cases were amongst off-campus students, about 20% had been amongst on-campus students and only 7% of staff members had tested positive since the beginning of the semester. Additionally, on-campus testing accounted for approximately 15% of cases, 12% were a result of on-campus asymptomatic testing and 3% were as a result of symptomatic testing.