June 12, 2020: COVID-19 Update

Dear Members of the RISD Community,

This week, Rhode Island announced that as part specific groups of high-contact workers who are asymptomatic can now receive free testing at Rhode Island National Guard testing sites (located at Community College of Rhode Island or Rhode Island College). These cohorts include education workers, starting with child care employees and expanding in the coming weeks. Free asymptomatic testing is also available to any Rhode Islander who attended a large protest or demonstration recently. Individuals in these categories can get tested for free, even if they do not have symptoms. Please note that anyone with symptoms in Rhode Island can get tested, regardless of their profession or work situation. You can schedule a test by going to portal.ri.gov or calling 401-222-8022.

I know many RISD community members who remain local have been actively involved in the protests at the capitol building and around the State. I applaud our faculty, staff and students—both in Rhode Island and around the globe—who are engaged in public activism to demand change as we witness continued violence toward members of the Black community. But I also encourage you to take health and safety precautions when gathering in public spaces, including having a designated “buddy,” wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth, practicing social distancing, frequent hand washing or sanitizing, and receiving testing if possible. You should also know your rights. The ACLU website provides a comprehensive guide about your rights as a protester in both English and Spanish.

The Governor also announced this week that all school districts are aiming to return to in-person learning on August 31. The Department of Education is working to develop a continuum of school-reopening scenarios that balance prioritizing the health and safety of school communities with providing in-person instruction as soon as possible. I know for those of you working remotely without childcare this is both encouraging but not without some anxiety. I am hopeful that the decreasing case numbers of COVID-19 in Rhode Island continues, so that by the opening of the school year parents and children can feel more confident about the return to the classroom.

On Monday of next week, we will roll out our formal fall plans along with details about a number of Town Halls to answer questions and provide further information. We are also in the midst of significant planning to carry forward the next components of our SEI Plan, which will also be announced in the coming weeks. In the meantime, as we navigate these very harsh times I want to acknowledge and thank you for all the work that each of you is doing—work to speak out against systemic violence, inequity and oppression, work to keep your family and community safe and healthy, and work to support our institution. I hope each of you is able to take time this weekend for rest and reflection. Let us also take extra steps to express our care and concern for one another and I remind you that we have added additional paths for support, which are outlined below.

Have a safe and restorative weekend.

Rosanne Somerson

Information & Support Resources

If you are a student in need of any kind of assistance, please contact studaff@risd.edu. For staff and faculty, our 24/7 confidential employee assistance program (EAP) is available to you, your dependents and members of your household through our partner, AllOne Health (1-800-451-1834).

The Center for Student Involvement is organizing many virtual gatherings each week. Find out what is planned and subscribe to Word Out to stay up-to-date on events and resources.

Everyone on campus must wear a face covering when in all RISD facilities, except when you are alone in private offices or rooms. If you do not have one, please contact Public Safety Deputy Chief Anna Brookes at abrookes@risd.edu.

For the latest information from RISD on COVID-19 and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit risd.edu/covid.

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