Oct. 14 - To the Salve Regina community: Why are we still wearing masks?

Dear Salve Regina community,

With multiple news reports mentioning the decline in COVID-19 cases across the nation and the relaxation of some masking policies at other academic institutions, you may be asking: Why are masks still needed indoors at Salve Regina?

The answer is because Newport County still has a higher transmission rate for COVID-19 than other counties in Rhode Island, and by federal, state and University guidelines, the transmission rate is still too high for us to take masks off or reduce mask use at this time.

We continue to monitor the transmission rate and we are hopeful that it will decline, and then remain low enough for us to adjust our current policy. Until this time, please recognize the important role you play in ensuring that the University remains open throughout the academic year. It's critical that we adhere to the commitments made with regards to wearing masks properly regardless of vaccination status. With cold and flu season also upon us, mask-wearing helps keep our community healthy and safe. Please be respectful to others who may remind you about University guidelines. We're all counting on each other.

Many community members traveled over the long weekend, and this has led to increased questions regarding close contact with a positive individual as well as the need for quarantine or isolation.

Close Contacts

Salve Regina will always notify anyone we identify as a close contact of a positive case involving a campus community member. Notification typically happens within 24-48 hours of that case being identified. Please keep a daily log of your activities to aid in contact tracing should the need arise. Students who have been identified as a close contact outside of the Salve Regina community (exposure from a family member etc.) should contact Health Services. Employees should notify Human Resources.

Vaccinated students who are identified as a close contact and are asymptomatic are able to go about their normal business. They are required to remain 100% masked, monitor for symptoms and take their food "to-go" from the Miley dining hall for 14 days. They will receive a COVID-19 test through the University after being exposed, and again on day five after exposure.

It is vital that students who have symptoms and who are identified as a close contact notify Health Services as soon as possible.

Students who are unvaccinated are not able to go about their normal business. They are placed in a seven-day quarantine. They can remain in quarantine housing on campus, at their off-campus residence (if safe) or at their permanent residence. They will receive a COVID-19 test through the University after being exposed, and again on day five after exposure.

Individuals who test positive at an external testing site must notify the University so that contact identification can be implemented immediately. During business hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday), students should call Health Services at (401) 341-2904 Ext. 3. During evenings and weekends, call Safety and Security at (401) 341-2325.  Employees should contact Human Resources.

Quarantine and Isolation

Undergraduate students who need to quarantine or isolate are strongly encouraged to return home to their permanent residence. However, the University does provide quarantine and isolation housing for students who cannot return to their permanent residence or who wish to remain on campus. Observation housing is also available for symptomatic students who are awaiting test results.

Quarantine keeps someone who was in close contact with a COVID-19 positive individual away from others. Those who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine unless they are experiencing symptoms. Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 90 days also do not need to quarantine.

If a student is experiencing symptoms, a negative COVID-19 test is needed to resume regular activities. If a student is symptomatic and also has been identified as a close contact, a negative COVID-19 test is needed and they are asked to quarantine until symptoms resolve. Students are asked to notify and work with their professors if they are symptomatic and awaiting test results, or if they are in quarantine.

Isolation keeps someone who is sick or tested positive for COVID-19 away from others, even in their own home. Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be expected to isolate for 10 days regardless of their vaccination status or whether or not they have symptoms.

Undergraduate students who are placed in isolation housing have food delivered on a regular basis, are provided with basic supportive medicines and have their health monitored via telemedicine. Students are also responsible for contacting each of their course instructors individually to develop a plan for their coursework during the isolation period.

Again, it is important to note that any student or employee experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of vaccination status should receive a COVID-19 test before continuing with regular, daily activities. This action will help ensure the protection of all within our community as colder weather approaches.

Salve Regina will continue to provide updates regarding policies for events and happenings throughout the semester. For those participating in Fall Festival Weekend, please bring a mask to wear during events while inside campus buildings regardless of vaccination status. Guests will not be required to wear a mask if outdoors or actively eating or drinking. We will be providing information regarding Thanksgiving protocols in a future update.

As always, you are encouraged to submit general comments, questions or concerns to coronavirus@salve.edu.