Mar. 17, 2020: COVID-19 Update

For the latest updates visit COVID-19 Updates.

Dear Members of the RISD Community,

In an effort to centralize and streamline communications about the latest COVID-19 developments, starting today, you will receive a daily email from me that may include updates from various campus leaders. Today, Senior VP of Finance and Administration Dave Proulx and Provost Kent Kleinman share a new invitation format for recognition of community members who have gone above and beyond to support our students and keep RISD operational during this time of transition.

There is no doubt that we are feeling loss this week. As most of our students are heading home, and academic spaces are vacated, students have had to move very quickly. In many cases they have had little time to figure out how to adapt their work to their next environment, or even to say good-bye to peers and members of their RISD “family.” Yet in the face of these real hardships, I am hearing incredible stories about the dedicated efforts of faculty, staff, and academic leadership to assist students, applying the kind of deserved attention and focus to aid them through this tough transition. Students with continued issues of need, please reach out to Student Affairs, as we have implemented new support systems to further assist you.

Many staff members are adjusting to remote work, and those on campus are having to implement new protocols. For all of us, the on-campus camaraderie that we are used to is different. It is times like these that ask us to look at our core—to ensure that our values drive our decisions, and that the humanity in each of us is fully considered and accommodated to the best of our abilities. I am confident, from seeing how committed each of you is to navigating this health crisis together, that we will find new ways to build connection, and that the extent of our connectedness will be meaningful and far-reaching.

As we continue to face these exceptional challenges, I ask all members of the RISD community to remain vigilant about the levels of stress and anxiety that many are facing and commit to supporting one another. One area of grave concern is an indication of rising retaliation against various populations, including incidents aimed at certain communities at RISD. While we cannot control actions beyond our campus, we can establish for ourselves what kind of culture lives at RISD, and now in our global footprint, as we adjust to remote community engagement. It is imperative that each of us demonstrates respect, care and concern for each other always, but with particular sensitivity and awareness at this time of elevated anxiety. Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated on our extended campus, and I urge everyone to practice compassion for all of the communities that define RISD.

Many of you have submitted questions for the Town Hall, which will now be held at a new date, and will be conducted virtually. Please join us this Friday, March 20, beginning at 1 pm (link forthcoming). We will address as many of your questions as we can at that time. You are welcome to submit additional questions through this Google form. We will be recording this conversation so that communities in other time zones will have the opportunity to view at a reasonable hour.

As always, for the latest information from RISD on COVID-19 and answers to frequently asked questions, please visit Rhode Island currently has 23 positive COVID-19 cases, 403 negative test results, and close to 3000 individuals in self-isolation. We are in frequent contact with our political leaders to stay completely up to date about changing protocols and current health information. For the latest updates from the State, please visit the Rhode Island Department of Health’s site.

I truly believe that when all is said and done, we will look back on this time with pride and accomplishment, amazed by the dedication of so many who came together to deliver unique and substantive art and design remote education led by the expertise of our extraordinary faculty and academic staff. I am hearing about brilliant solutions to complex problems. While the transition is hard, I have faith in the outcomes. I am so proud of how faculty, staff and students have aligned to support one another and to help RISD to implement measures to keep our community safe and well, while quickly developing systems and structures to deliver our spring semester courses.

Thank you for your continued dedication during this unprecedented time. Please be diligent about following procedures that will help to limit spread and transmission, adhering to the best health practices as we have reiterated—avoid crowds, practice social distancing, wash hands frequently and thoroughly, and implement other recommended health measures that deter transmission. And of course, do not come to campus if you are feeling unwell or have household members who are sick.

I wish safe travels to all of our departing students and good health to everyone as we navigate this exigent global event together.

Rosanne Somerson

Dear Members of the RISD Community,

In the midst of all of the uncertainty, changing circumstances and transition for our community, we took a moment to check in with our faculty and staff who are on campus helping our students with the transition home and to remote learning. What we found was inspiring. The level of support, care and empathy were nothing short of extraordinary. Your commitment to our students and towards one another is remarkable as we collectively navigate through this unprecedented event. We cannot know what lies ahead with precision, but we do know that we face a new and challenging future. It was profoundly heartening to witness the RISD spirit in action. Our sincere thanks for all you are doing to help.

This is also a moment to ask you to write a note of thanks to a RISD community member if you would like to. You may have observed some members of our community who are taking extraordinary measures to help maintain business operations, assist students and employees in transitions, and ensure the safety of all of us at RISD. We want to hear about those people – faculty, staff, students, anyone in the community who has gone the extra mile.

Tell us about someone who has helped you or others in a positive way during this time. Please go here to share your note.

We would also like to take a moment to provide a few updates:

  • We would like to reassure all employees (including students) that we are committed to providing your full base compensation on your primary position at least through the end of the semester regardless of how your work responsibilities have changed during this time.
  • Employees who are transitioning to remote work should follow the guidelines here and submit their information in Workday via the COVID-19 Temporary Remote Work Request, which can be found in the Announcements section of Workday.
  • Employees who are working remotely but do not have a laptop or equipment at home may be able to take their RISD desktop computer home. Please contact the ITS Service Desk to begin that process.
  • All employees who regularly take mass transit who need to be on campus can receive a four week, free of charge, temporary RISD parking permit. Please contact the Department of Public Safety to arrange for the permit.
  • Time entry information for hourly and student employees, as well as supervisors, will be provided tomorrow. For this week, please enter hours as you normally would for hours scheduled to work this week.
  • The staff performance evaluation process deadlines will be extended. More information to come this week.

Please continue to monitor email and the frequently asked questions page for RISD COVID-19 updates.


Dave Proulx (Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration) and Kent Kleinman (Provost)

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