Dear Salve Regina community,
I write to you today with hope, yet also with concern. As we continue to see in the news, many colleges and universities have been faced with a rapid rise of COVID-19 cases on their campuses. Several institutions have dismissed students in their first week, and several others have had to cancel their semesters and move to remote learning entirely.
These cases were linked to parties and bars, and to residence halls or congregate living situations such as apartments and Greek housing, where safety protocols were not followed. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the Department of Health, also are concerned and have indicated that they will hold students, universities and local businesses accountable for any actions that violate our state protocols.
I hope that you all recognize the important role you play in ensuring a successful opening this fall – and in ensuring that Salve Regina can remain open throughout the academic year. I am impressed by the number of students, faculty and staff who have signed the Pledge for the Protection of our Community and I remain encouraged by the way our community members and early arrival students have already engaged in the testing process, health screenings and new campus way of life.
Students, I know that you have been impacted immensely by this pandemic and that you want nothing more than to return to campus, socialize and enjoy the opportunities that a college education brings. I want the same for you – but I also want you to use your creativity and strength to discover how to do all of these things in ways that still keep you and others safe by wearing a mask, keeping socially distant, maintaining smaller groups and taking necessary precautions like hand-washing and wiping surfaces clean.
If you are living off campus, I ask that you be diligent in your awareness of our University policies along with state and local guidelines, maintain health protocols, and update your local address and contact information in the Salve portal so that we can provide you with the latest information.
Our layered approach to bringing everyone back to Salve Regina safely and keeping campus open also relies on our recognition of the addendum to the Salve Regina Code of Conduct and the expectations that the University has of students in the current environment. As you will read in the addendum, hosting or attending a large social gathering (more than 15) on or off campus not only creates potential health risks but will result in multiple consequences, and will be referred to the Dean of Students Office for formal disciplinary actions. Sanctions may include removal from campus housing and/or a requirement to complete classes remotely (for off-campus students).
Parents and families, your partnership, along with that of our faculty and staff, has always been critical to the success of our students. Please review the addendum to the Code of Conduct with your student and engage them in a conversation about the importance of these expectations. I know that you also have been impacted immensely as you try to navigate what is best for your Salve Regina student. As much as you would like them to come home for a visit before the holidays, please help them understand that once on campus, it is always best to avoid non-essential travel. During the academic year, Salve Regina will continue to remain flexible to accommodate student needs through in-person or remote learning.
Please do everything you can to keep yourself and others safe. The success of our semester depends upon it, and we truly are all in this together. I want to thank you in advance for your cooperation and patience as we continue to navigate this ever-changing pandemic environment. I know #SalvesGotThis, and I have faith that our beloved Mercy community will remain steadfast in its support of the common good and the health and well-being of all.
I look forward to seeing you soon.
Kelli J. Armstrong, Ph.D.