Prior to the start of classes on August 31st, seven RIC students tested positive for COVID-19. According to Rhode Island College’s coronavirus tracker on the school website, these students were off-campus students and instructed to self-quarantine at home for 14 days. Subsequently, three more COVID-19 cases were reported on campus. Two in students who live off-campus or commute to RIC and one case was reported in a residential student who is currently in isolation on campus.
As a result of these positive cases, three students were required to isolate themselves and nine more students, as well as two RIC employees, were required to self-quarantine. RIC reports that the cases reported in residential students specifically, were as a result of low symptomatic and asymptomatic testing provided to residential students.
Colleges and universities throughout Rhode Island have seen significant increases in COVID-19 cases compared to the spring semester. This can be attributed to the increase in both symptomatic and asymptomatic testing being conducted at all of Rhode Island’s college campuses except for CCRI, which is not testing students due to its status as a commuter school.
At Providence College, over 80 people tested positive for the coronavirus between September 14th and September 16th, bringing their total positive cases to 120 since the campus’s reopening. Due to the outbreak which spread primarily amongst commuter students, Providence College has decided to issue a “stay at home” order, canceling in person learning until at least September 26th. Additionally, in an email to students, President Rev. Kenneth Sicard claimed that the school would be testing all residential students, requiring all students to obtain a negative test result before returning to campus and that all students living on campus would not be allowed to leave. Those who violate these rules will result in immediate interim suspensions.
Addressing Providence College’s student body via email, President Rev. Kenneth Sicard asserted that should measures to contain the outbreak be unsuccessful the campus will be shut down. He stated, “We are out of options. If we are not successful, we will have no alternative other than to shut down our campus for the remainder of the fall semester. This also will likely affect our ability to reopen for the spring semester.”
At other schools throughout the state, re-opening has not been as turbulent. The University of Rhode Island reported 33 positive cases from September 9th to the 16th, Roger Williams reported 15 cases, and 14 cases were reported at Brown University.
Similarly, according to the New York Times, over 88,000 cases of COVID-19 and 60 deaths can be directly attributed to the reopening of college and university campuses across the United States.