May 22, 2020: COVID-19 Update

Dear Members of the RISD Community,

This Memorial Day we not only stop to remember the individuals who died while serving in the US military, but also those that we have lost over the last three months to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, brave and dedicated frontline workers are serving our citizens in a new and critical way, and many of them at great sacrifice. I want to express my deep sadness about the many who have become ill or even been taken by the virus. And I particularly want to extend my wishes to those of you who have personally experienced the illness or death of a family member, friend or neighbor. Nothing could have prepared us for the devastation that this virus has caused. The only way to honor those that we have lost is to work as hard as we can to protect each other and those around us.

Typically this weekend marks a time for celebrations with friends and families. I caution you to think hard before venturing into group gatherings, if not for your own safety then for those more vulnerable than you. Please remember how important it is to use the distancing and safety protocols that you know so well by now. If this virus continues to spread, so will the grief in its path.

I also want to note that many of you are feeling a sense of loss as we come to the close of the academic year today. Faculty and students have shown incredible dedication and ingenuity in how they have engaged in remote learning over the last half of the semester, but we have missed the energy of a campus filled with faculty and staff, and particularly our students. Revising our treasured traditions and putting off others until we can occupy the campus safely once again is so very difficult. Please know that I understand and am deeply grateful for the sacrifices that each of you have made this semester to keep yourselves, your peers and the public safe. Our last few weeks have further revealed the compassion and resilience of this community once again.

That ingenuity is manifest through several initiatives that departments across RISD have undertaken. This week Continuing Education launched 130+ online summer courses. The scope of their pivot from in-person to virtual learning is truly remarkable, and I am excited to see those courses filled and to consider the opportunities that these new forums may allow. In addition, the Career Center successfully transitioned to support students virtually, holding 406 advising appointments between March 16 and May 18. Nearly 100 internship postings and more than 150 job postings remain on ArtWorks so I advise any students still seeking summer or long-term opportunities to work with the Career Center. Lastly, the RISD Community Cupboard is holding its summer food drive. The Community Cupboard is our campus food pantry that is 100 percent supported by donations from the RISD community and aims to serve students, staff and faculty experiencing food insecurity. Please see below for details.

I also want to take a moment to congratulate and say farewell to those faculty and staff retiring at the end of the academic year. Provost Kleinman will more formally honor these community members next week in his end-of-year communication, but please know that I am deeply grateful for your years of service and your contributions to the RISD community and wish you the best in this next phase of life. We will honor each of you individually to express our gratitude for your contributions to RISD.

Please continue to be vigilant and safely enjoy this holiday weekend.

Sincerely,
Rosanne Somerson
President

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.

Community Cupboard Summer Food Drive

Please join our summer food drive May 25–June 5 in support of the Community Cupboard at RISD!

Our RISD community food pantry is a valuable asset to the RISD community. To kick off the summer season faculty and staff are welcome to bring unopened non-perishable food items to the collection bins located in the main lobby of 20 Washington Place across from the elevators. Most needed items include nutritious meal options such as canned soups and vegetables, peanut butter, canned fish, and rice and grains. Please check items for expiration date prior to donating. If you have any questions please reach out to Ginnie Dunleavy at vdunleav@risd.edu and thank you for working with us to support RISD community members in need!

Please remember, you must request permission from your direct supervisor to come onto campus. Employees who exhibit symptoms or are in contact with someone who has symptoms or has been diagnosed with COVID-19 are not allowed on campus. Employees coming to campus must observe safety protocols including wearing a mask or face covering except when alone in private offices or rooms and maintaining six-foot social distancing.

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