Dear undergraduate students,
As we prepare to welcome you back to campus and resume in-person learning, I would like to share some data that illustrates the need for compliance with our health and safety guidelines.
Last fall, we recorded 62 student cases over the entire semester, with a positivity rate of 0.85 percent. So far this semester, we have already seen 84 student cases since testing began on Jan. 7, with a much higher positivity rate of 2.22 percent.
In the week before our temporary pause, we saw 45 positive cases among our undergraduate population, and 142 students were identified as close contacts. During this time, each positive student infected an average of 3.15 others. While we are fortunate that very few of our students get seriously ill from this disease, imagine if one of those 3.15 people was your grandmother whom you visited for her 80th birthday party, the elderly patient you work with at the assisted-living center, or the child that you comfort when you volunteer at a pediatric cancer center. These are actual experiences that have occurred nationwide during this pandemic, and we do not want these kinds of consequences in our community.
Fortunately, the pause has limited the spread of coronavirus on campus. We can keep this encouraging trend going, but you need to do your part. We all share a responsibility to curb the behaviors that threaten to close our doors this spring.
Effective today, the social gathering limit in Rhode Island has been increased to two households for indoor gatherings and three households for outdoor gatherings. Your household is defined as the people you live with. If you live in a multi-unit building, your household is your apartment, not the entire building.
As a reminder, hosting or attending a social gathering that violates these limits also violates the COVID-19 addendum to our student code of conduct and will result in formal disciplinary action. Sanctions may include removal from campus housing and/or a requirement to complete classes remotely (for off-campus students).
I look forward to seeing you around campus next week. Let’s make the rest of our semester a safe and healthy one.
J. Malcolm Smith
Vice president for student affairs