Dear Salve Regina students and families,
I hope this finds you well and preparing to return to campus this fall. I am excited to see you and to once again experience the energy you bring to campus. As we all know, we are returning to Salve Regina in the era of coronavirus, and that means that some things will be different. If we work together however, we can help our Seahawk community have a successful return to campus and a great academic year.
We know that we will have asymptomatic, positive cases on campus this semester and we know that symptomatic cases will also appear. Salve Regina has planned for this, and for many different scenarios. If we all do what is asked of us, students will have the opportunity to engage with peers and faculty while we continue to deliver the quality, mercy education we are known for.
As we finalize preparations to welcome our first group of students back to Salve Regina for their quarantine period, it is important for all of us to recognize the critical actions we can take now to reduce the spread of the virus on campus. As previously communicated, those students traveling to Salve Regina from states or territories designated as "hot spots" must quarantine on campus for 14 days per executive order of the governor and the Rhode Island Department of Health. A schedule for quarantine activities is being finalized and those students impacted will continue to receive information directly.
Many of you have reached out regarding the addition of Rhode Island to the travel advisory lists in other states. We are working with the Department of Health to address specific questions related to move-in and short-term visitation by students to their home states. We will have an update for you as soon as possible.
The University continues to monitor the number of reported cases of coronavirus in our local community, the state of Rhode Island and throughout the United States. We also continue to finesse logistics around quarantine and isolation requirements for all students prior to move-in based on recent data and the experiences of other institutions as they repopulate their campuses. Salve Regina's strategies and expectations for the behavior required to keep our campus as safe as possible are also expanding based on what we continue to learn.
We are now asking all undergraduate students who do not need to participate in the mandatory state quarantine on campus to self-quarantine for 14 days prior to returning to campus for move-in this September. We understand that this is a difficult ask. What we have learned from other openings across the country is that if returning students do not do their best to self-quarantine prior to arrival, the likelihood of Salve Regina detecting positive cases of coronavirus during the move-in process will be significantly higher.
If you are unable to self-quarantine due to summer employment issues or other circumstances, we ask that you diligently restrict your activities prior to travel to campus by not attending any social events, wear a mask and properly distance yourself from others.
We know that the majority of new cases of coronavirus affecting college-aged individuals stem from social or even family gatherings of more than 15 people without masks or distancing practices being adhered to. While it is tempting to participate in "summer send-offs," please keep the consequences of such participation in mind.
As a symbol of your dedication to working with our community to help mitigate the effects of coronavirus, we are also asking all community members to sign the Salve Regina University Pledge for the Protection of our Community. The pledge covers several items that we must all commit to carrying out for ourselves and for our community.
In the pledge you will find that the University asks its community members to commit to paying attention to their health, take daily screenings, keep a log of close contacts, get tested when requested, wash hands, maintain appropriate social distance and wear masks. Members of the community must always remember to carry their Salve Regina ID card with them. We ask that you understand that if you come into close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus, we may ask you to quarantine or isolate in specific campus locations. Also, we ask that everyone cooperate with the contact identification team as they work to identify close contacts and others who may be at risk for infection.
Please join me in signing the Salve Regina University Pledge for the Protection of our Community. In the mercy tradition, we will work hard to take care of our community, especially the most vulnerable among us. Together, we can stay healthier.
Testing will be done upon arrival to campus for most students. Details and testing schedules during move-in will be communicated next week. Off-campus students will also receive information on how to make an appointment for testing on campus. The coronavirus test will be administered as part of the move-in/returning process and results are expected within 24-48 hours.
Students testing positive will be moved to isolation housing unless their room assignment allows for isolation. Families will be asked to retrieve students who test positive whenever possible. Knowing we may have some asymptomatic cases appear during testing is one reason why we are asking students to self-quarantine. Also, if you are traveling from a great distance, it may be wise to access a test prior to traveling in order to avoid the risk of unnecessary travel, travel expenses and inconvenience should you be asymptomatic and have to return home. Salve Regina is not requiring or collecting test results prior to arrival on campus. All students will still be tested upon arrival as part of move-in.
As noted in previous communications, this semester is sure to challenge all of us in ways we cannot anticipate. By self-quarantining, signing the pledge and continuing with safe practices and testing procedures, we can complete the semester successfully. We continue to appreciate your patience and cooperation as we navigate the complexities required to welcome everyone back to Salve Regina. #Salvesgotthis.
J. Malcolm Smith
Vice President for Student Affairs