June 9, 2020: COVID-19 Update

For the latest updates visit COVID-19 Updates.

Dear Members of the RISD Community,

Beginning today, I will decrease the frequency of my updates to twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays as we enter the summer months. I see some encouraging signs in recent weeks as the rate of new cases of COVID-19 continues to decline in Rhode Island and the state has begun to move from Phase I to Phase II of economic and lifestyle reopening.

Still, COVID-19’s impact and future course remains unknown and many of you have expressed a combination of hope and worry about our future plans. RISD continues to be guided by three goals: public health and safety, academic integrity and financial viability. The eight implementation task forces are working together to undergo a rigorous and exhaustive study of how we might retain as much in-person instruction as possible while keeping our community as safe as possible for the fall semester. In doing so, the task forces are closely analyzing the State’s data and are actively engaged with the following experts as we plan for a potential re-opening:

  • Associate Professor of Epidemiology at Brown University Dr. Brandon Marshall, PhD
  • Infectious disease physician and Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown University Dr. Philip Chan
  • Dr. Richard P. Keeling, MD and Dr. Jennifer Dickson, MPH DrPH of Keeling & Associates Consulting
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
  • Rhode Island Department of Health
  • American College Health Association

Next Monday, I will announce our path forward for the fall semester and provide as much detail as I am able. We will also launch a new COVID-related website, which will be the one-stop repository of all information about our plans. I know many of you are anxious about RISD’s future path, but I want to assure you that we are fortunate to have capable and dedicated faculty and staff that are working closely with experts outside of RISD to ensure our institution can continue its academic imperative while protecting the individuals that make our community so special.

It is impossible to communicate about RISD’s planning without acknowledging concurrently the devastating violence against black people and the current actions led by Black Lives Matter and many other organizations that address our country’s history of racial violence and deep structural inequities. While we are mourning we are also taking action. There are a number of group conversations and actions in the works at RISD as well as a focused planning for the next stages of implementation of the SEI Plan. This work is a top priority. Many of you have asked how you can educate yourselves and support the efforts of peaceful protesters across the globe as well as members of RISD’s community who are in pain over recent events. I suggest that you avail yourselves to the excellent resources Associate Provost of SEI Matthew Shenoda and the Office of SEI have assembled.

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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