This is a developing story and part of the Cigar’s coverage of the University of Rhode Island’s response to COVID-19. For the most recent updates, follow @RhodyCigar on Twitter.

General updates for Saturday, April 18 – Friday, April 24

Alternative grading options are available for spring 2020 classes to offer support to students while adjusting to remote learning during the pandemic. Students have until 11:59 p.m. on Friday, May 15 to request this option on a course-by-course basis. Grades will be posted by instructors no later than May 14. More information can be found here. Students seeking to graduate with accredited degrees are advised to discuss with an advisor before choosing this alternative option.

Comedian Will Ferrell will be participating in a virtual chat with URI students hosted by producer Judd Apatow on Tuesday, April 28 at 8 p.m. Students will need to use their URI email to register, which can be done here, and the event is open to the first 2,900 people that sign up. It is sponsored by the Student Entertainment Committee and the Office of Student Involvement and is expected to last between 45 and 60 minutes.

Physical and mental health resources still remain available for students.

Students can call the Counseling Center at 401-874-2288. Students can call this number year-round for 24/7 assistance. The center’s normal business hours are Monday, Thursday and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Outside of operating hours, students will be connected to ProtoCall, which provides behavioral health services over the phone. 

Health Services can be reached at 401-873-2246.

The Psychological Consultation Center can be reached at 401-874-4264, and the Couple and Family Therapy Clinic can be reached at 401-874-5956; the number provided last week for the Couple and Family Therapy Clinic was incorrect.

As of yesterday, April 23, Rhode Island had reported 6,699 positive cases of COVID-19 and 202 fatalities. 47,257 tests have been done in total. 267 people are currently hospitalized. Of those, 77 are in the ICU and 48 are on ventilators.

The University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m for further questions. University information on COVID-19 can be found on their webpage.

That’s all for this week. For more information and stories in the coming days, check our website and Twitter @rhodycigar. Stay safe, stay home and we’ll see you next week.

General updates for Saturday, April 11 – Friday, April 17

The University of Rhode Island Communications sent out an email on Tuesday, April 14 with information about mental health services available at this time. 

Students can call the Counseling Center at 401-874-2288. Students can call this number year-round for 24/7 assistance. The center’s normal business hours are Monday, Thursday and Friday 8:30 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Outside of operating hours, students will be connected to ProtoCall, which provides behavioral health services over the phone. 

Health Services can be reached at 401-873-2246.

The Psychological Consultation Center can be reached at 401-874-4264, and the Couple and Family Therapy Clinic can be reached at 401-874-5356.

As of yesterday, Thursday, April 16, Rhode Island has 4,177 cases of COVID-19, 118 total fatalities, 252 hospitalized, 62 in intensive care units (ICU) and 43 on ventilators. 30,761 tests had been done as of yesterday and of those 26,584 had come back negative. All numbers are from the Rhode Island Department of Health. The statistics can be found here, updated every day.

The University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m for further questions. University information on COVID-19 can be found on their webpage. That’s all for this week’s update. For more information and stories in the coming days, check our website and Twitter @rhodycigar. Stay safe, stay home and we’ll see you next week.

General updates for Saturday, April 4 – Friday, April 10

The Department of Housing and Residential Life (HRL) is currently processing housing and dining cancellation refunds that were submitted due to the coronavirus pandemic. The refunds are set to begin on Monday, April 13 but will take several days to complete.

These refunds will be issued to all resident students who completed the cancellation request by the Friday, April 3 deadline, regardless of whether or not they were able to return to campus to fully move out of their room. HRL will work with those residents to finish the checkout process and move out of their room when it is safe to do so based on health safety and governmental guidelines.

All 2020 Summer Session courses will be offered remotely in either a mixed synchronous/asynchronous format or a fully asynchronous format. This applies to sessions one, two and three. For more information, visit the Summer Session website.

WebEx video forums will be held in the coming weeks to hear from the candidates for the director of IT Research and Computing Services. For more information, including dates, times and the WebEx meeting links and passwords, check your email for a message from URI Communications.

The University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m for further questions, or you can visit the University’s COVID-19 webpage.

That’s all for today, and for more information in the coming days check our website and on Twitter @rhodycigar. From now on, these updates will be weekly and will come out on Fridays. Stay safe, stay home, and we’ll see you next week.

General updates for Friday, April 3

The University of Rhode Island will offer  an optional alternate grading system for spring semester classes. If students don’t want to use the traditional letter grade option they can opt for a satisfactory/unsatisfactory option. For more information, check your email and be on the lookout for an article on our website soon.

As of today at 5 p.m. the Memorial Union has closed until further notice, according to an email sent out by URI communications this evening.

Questions for the Campus ID and Dining Office can be directed to 401-874-2055 to leave a voicemail. A staff member will call back. Dining plan issues can be handled remotely and if a new ID card is needed, it can be picked up at the Dining Distribution Center at 10 Tootell Road between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Rhode Island Credit Union branch in the Union will be closed but members can use drive-thru services at other branch locations. The Campus Store is closed, but items can still be purchased online. RamTech is open by appointment only. For more information, visit their website or reach them at ramtech@etal.uri.edu or at 401-874-2679.

Food service is still available on campus, with Butterfield Hall open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Brookside Bistro Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Take-out is the only option available and all of the seating areas are closed. The Corner Store in Hope Commons is still open and has convenience items and grab-n-go items. They are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Students still living on campus who have mail to pick up can call the Union Express at 401-874-2189 in advance of them going to pick up their package. Pickups can be made between 9 a.m and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Starting on Tuesday, April 7, all packages and mail still in the mailroom that don’t belong to students still living on-campus will be shipped to their home address.

The Student Entertainment Committee (SEC) is working with the Office of Student Involvement in the Union to coordinate virtual programs that will be accessible to all students.

Student Senate, now in the 2020-2021 year, continues to meet every Wednesday evening via WebEx at 6:30 p.m. Information about meetings will be posted on their Instagram page.

The Dean of Students Office, which includes Disability Services, Commuter Affairs and Greek Affairs, has their services available over the phone and online Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more information, click here, where you can also see the full list of services that fall under this office.

The Counseling Center has put together a list of resources for taking care of your mental health during COVID-19. That, along with information about how to access counseling, can be found here.

The Plains Road lot is being used as one of the state’s three drive-thru testing sites for COVID-19. You can read more here.

The University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m for further questions, or you can visit the University’s COVID-19 webpage. That’s all for today, and for more information in the coming days check our website and on Twitter @rhodycigar. Stay home, stay safe, and if you’re looking for something light and funny to distract you, check out this clip from comedian John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight about a wonderful invention called the “salmon cannon.”

General updates for Monday, March 30

Following the postponement of in-person commencement scheduled for May 16 and 17, the University asked students for feedback on an alternative to the traditional ceremony.

According to an email from URI Communications, 2,453 students completed a survey asking whether the University should hold an in-person commencement on a future date, or hold a virtual ceremony instead.

67 percent of the respondents, 90 percent of whom were undergraduate students, said that they wanted to hold an in-person commencement, likely in the fall. Six percent voted for a virtual ceremony and 27 percent voted for a combination of a virtual and in-person ceremony.

Housing and Residential Life (HRL) sent out an email this morning for on-campus residents reminding them to make sure that their new address and cell phone number are up to date in the MyHousing portal on eCampus. 

If the carrier of your package is FedEx, UPS or DHL, the packages will be passed on to the address in the MyHousing portal. These carriers will not be visiting the Union Express Mailroom daily due to the virus.

 If the carrier of your package is the USPS, they do not forward packages. The Campus Store will forward this mail for a fee of $8 per package, regardless of size, and you will be contacted by them for payment prior to shipment.

Packages and other mail deemed by Union Express employees to be abandoned by May 1 will be returned to the sender. The hours for the mailroom for the rest of the semester are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Today at 4 p.m. was the deadline to submit the housing deposit for those who wish to live on-campus next year. Housing applications can be submitted through Thursday, April 2 at 4 p.m. Roommate selection, which is optional, is open through April 24. Current Brookside residents can re-select on April 8 and 9, and general room selection will be April 20 through April 24. 

If you miss any of these deadlines, including today’s for the housing deposit. HRL said in an email that they will develop a process for you to request housing after the general room selection ends on April 24. Housing deposits are refundable through May 1.

Tomorrow, the political science department is hosting the first of their virtual community conversations of the semester via WebEx. Dr. Skip Mark will speak on ‘International Organizations, Cooperation and the Fight Against COVID-19.’ He wrote about the topic for the politics blog Duck of Minerva, two weeks ago, which you can read here. The conversation is tomorrow, March 31 at 2 p.m. and can be accessed here.

Army Capt. Mark Incze, a public information officer working on the issue of drive-thru testing at Rhode Island’s public colleges, said today that URI’s Kingston Campus is one of three sites within the state with the National Guard. The sites are set up, he said, on behalf of the Rhode Island Department of Health. The other two are at the RIC campus in Providence and the CCRI Knight Campus in Warwick.

 A ‘media open house’ will be held at the CCRI site at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. From that point on, all sites will be closed to the media and to the public save for those getting tested. More information will be available on this on Wednesday.

The University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m for further questions, or you can visit the University’s COVID-19 webpage.

These updates won’t be coming in every day, but information will be available as it comes in on Twitter at @rhodycigar. Check back here, on Twitter and on the homepage of our website soon for more information on details mentioned in this article. Stay home, stay safe and we’ll be back soon.

General updates for Sunday, March 29

The University of Rhode Island announced today that a new drive-thru COVID-19 testing site will be set up in the Plains Road parking lot in partnership with the Rhode Island National Guard and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency.

According to the email sent to the community by URI Communications, setup began today and testing is to begin on Tuesday, March 31. Testing will be by appointment only for pre-screened patients who must show a form given to them by the Rhode Island Department of Health or their physician. 

Approximately 50 medical and security personnel will be at the site, with the goal to test up to 600 people a day. National Guard, medical and security personnel will have access to the bathrooms and showers in the Keaney Gymnasium for sanitation purposes. No patients will have access to University facilities at any time. 

The National Guard told the University that this will be a “completely controlled” environment and that the “strictest health and safety protocols” will be followed. Nobody being tested will exit their car at any time.

Traffic will be directed in and out of campus by the National Guard and the URI Police Department. Students, faculty and staff who had been parking in the Plains Road lot will now instead park in the Fine Arts North parking lot or the Surge Building at 210 Flagg Road.

The University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m for further questions, or you can visit the University’s COVID-19 webpage.

Check back here and on the homepage of our website soon for more information on details mentioned in this article. As always, keep social distancing and washing your hands — the more we do now, the sooner we can return to normalcy.

General updates for Wednesday, March 25 and Thursday, March 26

As of Thursday, March 26, there have not been any additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the URI community other than the one confirmed on Thursday, March 19.

Effective March 27, The University is requesting that all students, regardless of where they are coming from, do not return to residence halls to move in or out. Students’ items will be safely locked in their rooms. It is unknown when this recommendation will end.

Students with “exceptional” personal or family circumstances requiring that they move their items out, or those who had planned on returning to live in their residence hall, must submit a request to obtain their items, which must then be approved by Housing and Residential Life (HRL).

An email from HRL said that this will not affect a student’s ability to receive a housing refund nor will it affect the amount. The current room and board refund rate is 25 percent. According to the email sent to students, HRL will be “very flexible in the process and timeline for removing belongings to complete the checkout process” when move out occurs in the future.  

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo instituted an executive order that anyone entering Rhode Island from the state of New York must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. The University is asking that no students from New York who had planned to move back into or out of a residence hall, Greek Life housing or any residence within the state return at this time. 

Students still living on campus who have been to New York or another area with an influx of cases in the last 14 days have been asked to self-quarantine and call Health Services at 401-874-2246. Meals can be delivered to a student’s room by request.

The Remote Teaching and Learning Task Force, a temporary task force comprised of members of the Faculty Senate and some administrators, including Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Initiatives Anne Veeger, is expected to make a decision next week regarding grading for the semester. The task force will determine whether courses will be graded on a traditional letter scale, as pass/fail, as satisfactory/unsatisfactory or a combination of the three. A Change.org petition started by student Sebastian Fritsch asking for the University to switch to a pass/fail option has gathered nearly 5,000 signatures.

As of Wednesday, March 25, most, but not all, buildings on campus can now only be accessed by those with URI IDs or keys. Residence halls remain accessible by ID only to those who are currently living there. Click here for a list of buildings not affected by this and their new hours.

The Union Express Mailroom will now operate  Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m for further questions, or you can visit the University’s COVID-19 webpage. Check back here and on the homepage of our website soon for more information on details mentioned in this article. As always, keep social distancing and washing your hands and for recommendations on how to keep busy check out our top movie, TV and podcast picks check here.

General updates for Tuesday, March 24

As of Tuesday, March 24, there have not been any additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the URI community other than the one confirmed on Thursday, March 19.

The University announced via email this afternoon that the in-person commencement ceremonies scheduled for Saturday, May 16 and Sunday, May 17 have been cancelled. 

URI sent out a survey for students to fill out to determine whether there will instead be a virtual commencement ceremony on the originally scheduled dates, an in-person ceremony in the fall or both. The survey closes Thursday, March 16 at noon.

Student Senate President Nick Marotta encouraged students to follow self-isolation and social distancing protocols in an email sent out by URI Communications. Marotta is a member of the University’s Commencement Committee.

Marotta, who is a senior, also gave a message to his classmates acknowledging the difficulties of the situation in particular for the graduating class of 2020. Students can read the whole message in the community-wide email.

The University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m for further questions. 

We’ll be back tomorrow with more updates. Remember to practice social distancing, and if you’re looking for something to keep you busy, check our entertainment recommendations from the Cigar’s editorial staff.

General updates for Saturday, March 21 through Monday, March 23

As of Monday, March 23, there have not been any additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the URI community other than the one confirmed last week.

Housing and Residential Life sent out an email to all enrolled students this afternoon further pushing the deadline to register for housing for next year. The deadline to pay the $200 housing deposit is now next Monday, March 30 at 4 p.m. For the rest of the deadlines, check your email. These, according to the email, are the final deadlines.

An email sent by URI Communications on behalf of the Office of Undergraduate Research & Innovation this afternoon said that the deadline to apply for an undergraduate research grant has been extended to Friday, April 3 at 5 p.m.

For those registered to vote in Rhode Island, the presidential preference primary has been pushed from April 28 to June 2.

Looking for things to keep you busy in quarantine? Ways to stay sane while social distancing? We’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of movie, TV show, book, podcast, music and video game recommendations from our editorial staff.

The University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m for further questions. 

More updates are coming soon. Until then, good luck in your online classes, stay six feet apart and keep washing your hands.

General updates for Friday, March 20

As of Friday, March 20, there is still only one confirmed case of COVID-19 within the URI community.

An email was sent out by Housing and Residential Life this afternoon to all on-campus residents with instructions on how to proceed with the cancellation and move-out process and information for students who will be remaining on campus for the remainder of the semester.

Students wishing to cancel their housing contracts must complete the Housing Cancellation Request form in the MyHousing portal in e-Campus by midnight on Friday, April 3. At this point, you will be able to select a two-hour appointment time to move your things out of your room. Those time slots began today on Friday, March 20 and will end at 8 p.m. on Sunday, April 5. For more information, check your emails for the message from Housing.

For students who are unable to return to campus to collect their things, they may designate a proxy to come and do so for them. Information on that process is also available in that email. Students who are unable to come to campus to move out and are unable to find a proxy, as well as students with questions about the move-out process in general,  are asked to contact HRL customer service by phone at 401-874-4151 or via email at customerservice@housing.uri.edu.

Students who need to stay on-campus beyond Sunday, April 5 are asked to complete the Request for Continued Housing form in the MyHousing portal on e-Campus by noon on Friday, April 3.

After you complete all of the steps for checking out, HRL will alert Enrollment Services to process the refund and it will be issued “after any outstanding balances on the student’s account are resolved.” You can indicate your preferred way to receive your refund or change that here. Triple room rebates will be processed before cancellation refunds.

Room registration deadlines for the 2020-2021 school year have been extended. The deadline to pay the $200 housing deposit is Monday, March 23 at 4 p.m. The rest of the deadlines can be found here. 

An email sent out by URI Communications on behalf of Dining Services this afternoon said that they have opened up their warehouse for students, faculty and staff to pre-order food that they can take back to their households.

Their warehouse, according to the email, is “fully stocked” with frozen and non-perishable foods. To request this service, fill out this order form. Students will be able to avoid standing in line with others and they will contact you when you can pick up your order, which will be at the Food Distribution Center on 10 Tootell Road, Suite 2.

Starting on Monday, March 23, the Corner Store in Hope Commons will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Union Express Mailroom will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week until further notice, according to an email sent out this afternoon by HRL. On the weekends, the only access to the building will be through the automatic door on the bottom floor facing the parking lot. Students who will be cancelling their housing contracts should fill out mail forwarding information with the U.S. Postal Service.

Getting bored with social distancing and quarantine? Check our website and the Twitter for our entertainment section tomorrow for recommendations from our editorial staff on how to keep busy with some of our favorite movies, TV shows, books and more.

Stay tuned tomorrow for more information from campus officials on the decision to move to remote learning for the rest of the semester and how Rhody is working to keep the community safe. 

Until then, happy Friday from the Cigar, and as always please remember to wash your hands and practice social distancing to keep yourselves and those around you healthy and safe.

General updates for Thursday, March 19

University of Rhode Island communications announced that a URI community member has tested positive for COVID-19. This is the University’s first reported case of the virus.

According to an email sent out to the community by URI Communications this evening, the afflicted individual is a staff member. They are currently in self-isolation at home following the guidelines of the Rhode Island Department of Health. 

The Rhode Island Department of Health is working to identify individuals who were in contact with the staff member to arrange for their own self-quarantine. Health Services also will support students, faculty and staff who may be affected. The area in which the staff member worked has been cleaned following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Additionally, the University of Rhode Island has made the decision to move entirely to remote learning for the rest of the semester.  The decision was made prior to the positive test results’ announcement.

Despite the University moving to remote learning for the remainder of the semester, the campus will remain open and services will be available for students who need them. This includes housing and dining options in limited capacities. 

More information will be available later this evening on the Good Five Cent Cigar’s website. 

The University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m for further questions. 

Please stay safe and stay home and remember to wash your hands.

General updates for Wednesday, March 18

As of Wednesday, March 18, nobody in the URI community has tested positive for COVID-19.

However Health Services has administered several COVID-19 tests, according to Director of Health Services Ellen Reynolds. Today’s tests’ results are expected within four to six days. 

Health Services is currently testing twice a day at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The tests are done in a drive-through fashion in the ambulance bay by a healthcare provider dressed with the proper personal protective equipment. The specimens are then sent with a courier to a commercial lab called Labcorp. 

While the criteria to determine who is eligible for testing at the University is somewhat more relaxed than it is elsewhere, people cannot just show up asking to be tested.

“Only those students that are screened by one of our healthcare workers as appropriate [receive testing], and it’s really individualized based on their condition, their illnesses and their presentation,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds said that travel history to certain countries and contact with someone who has tested positive are factors that are considered but are not required for a student to be tested. This is because there is now community spread in Rhode Island according to the Director of the State Department of Health Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott.

“People who have a mild illness are not being tested,” Reynolds said. “It’s only those people with a significant illness on top of other conditions that make them at higher risk.”

In order to do testing, Health Services has to have access to personal protective equipment – including gowns, gloves, goggles and respirators – as well as test kits. As of right now, Reynolds said that the University is not in jeopardy of running out of either.

Treatment for COVID-19 is the same regardless of whether or not a person is tested. Much of the treatment is supportive care, which includes taking medication to alleviate symptoms and staying hydrated. 

Appointments at Health Services have been shifted “almost entirely” to online and telehealth appointments for the time being, according to Reynolds. Routine appointments, such as immunizations, physicals and wellness exams, are currently not being performed. Health Services is currently not holding people responsible for routine immunizations in light of this pandemic.

Services including nutrition and psychiatry appointments are almost all being conducted via telehealth, meaning that they’re done through Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)-compliant platforms like WebEx, online or over the phone.

Students who need to pick up prescriptions from Health Services are able to do so. When those receiving prescribed medicine arrive at the building, they call the front desk and tell them their name. They are then met at the door, where they are asked to show their ID to verify their identity and are then handed their prescription. 

Health Services also expanded e-prescribing capabilities so that medications can be prescribed and sent to students no matter where they are in the country so that nobody runs out of medications.

Health Services staff are being carefully monitored as well. Whenever a team member comes in for their shift, they fill out a questionnaire about their health history, attesting to the fact that they are without symptoms, that they have not come into contact with anybody who has tested positive and that they’re going to practice good hand hygiene. Their temperatures are being taken and if it is over 100.4 they are not able to work.

“We wouldn’t allow somebody to come into work if they were sick,” Reynolds said.

The Counseling Center is able to deliver services to already-established patients via WebEx, said Reynolds. They are also available by phone Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for ‘urgent clinical consultations,’ according to their website.

While it is not yet known whether or not the University will return to face-to-face learning this semester, Reynolds said that “we’re going to know in a very short order” what those plans will be.

This comes after Gov. Gina Raimondo announced today that all public K-12 schools in the state would be doing remote learning until at least Friday, April 3; the same time frame that the University has set for itself.

“From a public health standpoint, [Raimondo is] doing everything right,” Reynolds said. “What she is trying to do is make sure that we’re minimizing the risk to our most vulnerable populations.” 

The concern, Reynolds said, is that if these precautions are lifted too soon and the disease and transmission become more widespread, then there will not be enough hospital and intensive care beds for everybody who needs it.

“Everything we’re trying to do right now is to avoid what’s happening in Europe and certainly what happened in China and trying to protect our citizens as best [as] we can, and the best way to do this is to decrease transmission, do all that healthy hand hygiene and cough etiquette but, really, stay home,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds continued to stress the importance of everybody following the public health guidelines relating to stopping the spread of COVID-19, especially social distancing.

“Even though you’re going to do fine with [COVID-19], and most people will do fine with it, you have the potential to negatively impact someone’s life or actually end someone’s life if you’re out there transmitting this virus on surfaces or in the air to individuals who don’t have the system that can support them through this,” Reynolds said. “So, please take it seriously. We’re not asking for a lot. If we can do this right, we could potentially be through within a shorter period of time. But if people don’t adhere to these recommendations, this could go on [for] much longer.”

The University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m with further questions. Check back here tomorrow for more updates, as well as another post with recommendations from the Cigar staff on how to keep yourselves entertained while we’re all social distancing. As always, stay safe, wash your hands and, please, stay home!

General updates for Tuesday, March 17

As of Tuesday, March 17, there is nobody in the URI community who has tested positive for COVID-19. 

The deadline for canceling housing contracts for the spring semester has been pushed to April 3. This is also the tentative date for students to return to in-person classes on campus.

“We should have used that date all along but we were sticking to the housing contract,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Kathy Collins.

 The original date for cancellation was Friday, March 13 and was then pushed to Friday, March 20. 

“We’ve now made that adjustment to reflect the hopeful return date to campus, so now they’re consistent,” Collins explained. “We recognize that [the initial housing cancellation date] was a mistake [and] an error that we made and caused a lot of confusion and angst for our students and their family members.”

An email sent to resident students by Housing and Residential Life (HRL) said that a decision on what the rest of the semester will look like beyond April 3 will be announced “well before then.” Further details on the checkout process, including how it will work with travel restrictions and self-quarantining measures, will be provided after that announcement is made.

Remote learning starts next Monday, March 23. Students and faculty looking for information on IT resources and how to connect and learn remotely can find it here.

Students can access online editions of most course materials for free through an online service called VitalSource Bookshelf, according to an email sent out by the Campus Store. You must sign up with your URI email and can borrow up to 7 at a time. The free access is valid until Monday, May 25. You can sign up here, and if you need the specific title, author name or ISBN of your textbooks, you can look here.

 Currently, there will not be any breaks or refunds with tuition. The majority of per-credit costs are the same for in-person classes and online classes, according to Collins, and many services that students pay for are available remotely. These include Health Services (offering telehealth appointments) and online advising.

All campus tours and information sessions for this week have been suspended. Other information about admissions events can be found here.

As of right now, commencement planning is still underway.

Collins said that the University wants community members to practice social distancing and limit their contact with others as ‘community spread’ is now present within the state of Rhode Island.

For students who receive stipends through Student Senate, there’s not yet an answer as to whether or not those will continue to be dispersed during this time, according to Memorial Union Director Carl Stiles.

For students who have on-campus jobs or work study, the University is still looking to see how some students are able to work remotely, said Collins.

According to the Counseling Center’s website, all face-to-face appointments and all group sessions are canceled until further notice. Staff remain available over the phone Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for “urgent clinical consultations,” and after-hours, students can still reach out to ProtoCall at 401-874-2288. This is also the number that you can reach the Counseling Center at during their regular business hours. Counselors will be reaching out to students who had previously scheduled appointments this week to check in. 

Disability Services is currently conducting meetings through Google Meet. Students can schedule appointments with their case managers through Starfish or by calling their main line at 401-874-2098 Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For questions that may not require a full meeting, students can email their case managers. For more information, visit them here.

Campus Recreation facilities will remain closed for the time being in accordance with the Rhode Island Department of Health’s recommendation that all gyms be closed. Collins said that the Campus Rec team is “hard at work” to see how fitness classes can be done over WebEx. 

The URI Guitar Festival has been postponed until September 15-17.

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the Dropkick Murphys are live-streaming their show tonight — something that Collins, who describes herself as a “huge fan” of, is looking forward to, and is encouraged by their use of this technology.

“If the Dropkick Murphys can do it, I think some other groups can as well,” she said.

For further questions, the University’s COVID-19 hotline can be reached at 401-874-3082 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

We’ll be back tomorrow with more updates. Until then, happy St. Patrick’s Day from the Cigar — make sure you celebrate safely, practice social distancing and wash your hands. 

General updates for Monday, March 16

As of Monday, March 16, there are still no known cases of COVID-19 within the URI community. 

However, South County Hospital confirmed this afternoon that a patient receiving treatment there tested positive for COVID-19, according to The Narragansett Times. The hospital is approximately eight minutes away from campus, and multiple URI students had participated in internships and clinicals there. All of the hospital’s student and volunteer assignments were halted on March 16 until further notice.

Starting Tuesday, March 17, all events and gatherings with 25 people or more are prohibited through March 30 in accordance with an executive order signed by Governor Gina Raimondo. The University will enforce this order, according to an email sent to all students.

The deadline for students to cancel their housing contracts for the current semester has been extended to March 20, according to an email sent to current residents. Students cancelling their assignment and moving out will receive a 20 percent refund off of their spring housing rate. All steps, including the cancellation request form, removing all belongings and checking out via MyHousing, must be done by this date.

Vice President for Student Affairs Kathy Collins asked residents in an email to complete their statement of intent form, regardless of whether or not they plan on returning to campus for the time being. The form, which asks if residents plan to continue living on campus next semester, includes updated questions about travel. The email also includes information about services currently available through Dining Services and Housing and Residential Life.

The $200 housing deposit for the fall 2020 semester is now due next Monday, March 23 at 4 p.m. The application is due on Wednesday, March 26 at 4 p.m.  The deposit was initially due today, Monday, March 16.

The division of Student Affairs sent an email to students this afternoon with updated hours for dining halls, the mailroom and Health Services. They are as follows:

  • Butterfield: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., March 16 through April 3
  • Ram’s Den: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., March 16 through April 3, Monday – Friday only
  • Brookside Bistro: 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., March 16 through April 3, Monday – Friday only
  • Rhody Eatz: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., March 21 through April 5, Tuesday – Sunday only
  • Corner Store: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., March 16 through April 5

Union Express Mailroom: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., March 16 through April 5

Students who plan to visit Health Services are asked to call ahead. Doors will be locked and students will be screened at the door. For hours, check the department’s website.

Rhody Outpost’s weekly hours are suspended until further notice per an email from URI Communications. Students needing access to items in the meantime can fill out this Google Form with their information and what they need based on this inventory list.

As of tomorrow, March 17, libraries on all campuses will only be available to students, faculty, staff and affiliates, per URI Communications. For more information, visit the library’s website.

Memorial Union Director Carl Stiles said that the building is operating on what they call “break hours,” which are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Memorial Union will be closed on the weekends.

The building, including student organization offices, is being cleaned on a regular basis and bathrooms are being cleaned multiple times per day. A spray dispersal system purchased last fall sends a cleaning agent through every open and private space in the building, killing germs and viruses upon contact, according to Stiles. The staff then manually cleans the surfaces.

The Rhode Island Credit Union, Total Image Hair Salon and University Optometrists are operating within the hours of the Memorial Union, Stiles said, but make sure to check with them to see if their hours have changed.

For information on what your specific college is doing, click here.

As always, check your emails for updates from the University, wash your hands and stay healthy. Further questions can be directed to the University’s COVID-19 information hotline at 401-874-3082 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

General updates for Sunday, March 15

As of Sunday, March 15, there are still no known cases of COVID-19 within the URI community.

Vice President of Student Affairs Kathy Collins said this afternoon in an email to the Cigar that she “would encourage everyone to continue to monitor our coronavirus website for up to day information.” 

She also noted that the call center will be operating this week if people have any other questions. Its hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There is a new page on the COVID-19 response webpage regarding the transition to remote learning. It includes resources for students and faculty. 

In addition, there is a page with tips for remote and online learning. The following information comes from that page:

As of Friday, March 13, Campus Recreation facilities are closed until further notice. As of today, the pools are remaining closed as well. Programming and registration have been postponed including swim lessons, aquatic fitness classes and certification classes, among others. 

There are laptops available from RamTech to rent should a student need one to learn remotely. For more information, visit their website or call them at 401-874-2679.

Enrollment appointments will remain the same and advisor holds have been lifted.

For questions about housing, visit here for a list of frequently asked questions.

Students with work-study or who are otherwise employed on campus are asked to contact their supervisors.

Computer labs, studios and practice rooms will be available to students with potentially reduced hours and as staffing allows.

All students who go to Health Services for any reason, be it a new appointment or a pre-existing non-urgent appointment, are asked to call ahead at 401-874-2246 before coming in.

General updates from March 13 – March 14: 

An email sent out by the University in the evening of March 13 said that, in accordance with a recent executive order signed by Gov. Gina Raimondo, anyone who has traveled outside of the U.S. within the last 14 days must immediately self-quarantine. Students, faculty and staff who fall into either of those categories “should not return to campus until the end of the quarantine period.”

On the morning of March 14, URI Communications sent an email on behalf of the Office of Transportation & Parking in an effort to ease parking restrictions on campus. From March 16-22, resident students returning to campus will not need a parking permit and may park in any available student lot. Students moving belongings in or out of their dorm can park in any available legal spot near their building. Commuter students will not need a permit during this time as well and can park in any available student lot. Faculty and staff are able to park in any available lot. The shuttle system will continue to be available as well.

In a separate email sent out this afternoon on behalf of the Department of Public Safety, community members were asked to call ahead before going to the Police Department on Briar Lane or the Public Safety Building on Lower College Road. In-person visits should only be made in the case of an emergency. 

The Public Safety Building is open on weekdays before 4 p.m. The Police Department is open to walk-ins weekdays between 4 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. 911 can be called at any time for emergencies. Non-emergency calls could be directed to the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 401-874-4910.

An email sent out by the University last night said that, in accordance with a recent executive order signed by Gov. Gina Raimondo, anyone who has traveled outside of the U.S. within the last 14 days must immediately self-quarantine. Students, faculty and staff who fall into either of those categories “should not return to campus until the end of the quarantine period.”

This morning, URI Communications sent an email on behalf of the Office of Transportation & Parking in an effort to ease parking restrictions on campus. From March 16-22, resident students returning to campus will not need a parking permit and may park in any available student lot. Students moving belongings in or out of their dorm can park in any available legal spot near their building. Commuter students will not need a permit during this time as well and can park in any available student lot. Faculty and staff are able to park in any available lot. The shuttle system will continue to be available as well.

In a separate email sent out this afternoon on behalf of the Department of Public Safety, community members were asked to call ahead before going to the Police Department on Briar Lane or the Public Safety Building on Lower College Road. In-person visits should only be made in the case of an emergency. 

The Public Safety Building is open on weekdays before 4 p.m. The Police Department is open to walk-ins weekdays between 4 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. 911 can be called at any time for emergencies. Non-emergency calls could be directed to the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 401-874-4910.

As of today, March 14, URI Theater has postponed its production of “Spamalot” until October 2020, per their Instagram account.

Updates from the Provost and Emergency Management:

The current plan is to return to face-to-face learning on Monday, April 6. It is still too soon to tell if that will definitely be the case, according to Provost Donald DeHayes, but as that deadline approaches the community will be kept in the loop. 

DeHayes said that the April 3 date gives the University time to see how the situation continues to unfold.

“It buys us some time to really get a sense of whether our efforts and those of others across the country have effectively slowed down the spread of the virus,” DeHayes said. “We are just pledging to keep the community informed of any additional decisions that might be made either to extend that April 3 deadline if need be, or not.”

Should that deadline need to be extended, it is not clear at this point how long online remote learning would continue or if a return to face-to-face learning for the semester would be possible, said DeHayes, as the situation with the virus continues to change rapidly day-to-day and hour-by-hour.

In the event that the campus does move entirely to remote online learning for the semester and students are not able to stay on campus, he also made it clear that the University would help the students who rely on University housing.

“We would never take a student for which university housing is their home and the only home they have available to them at this time, we would never turn those students out on the street,” he said.

During the same interview, DeHayes said that the University is still “many weeks away” from looking at whether or not this will affect commencement exercises.

“At this point in time, commencement planning is still underway,” he said.

DeHayes also said that the University currently is “in good shape” in terms of having an adequate amount of food and cleaning supplies to support itself in the midst of this crisis. Should that change, the University has a contingency fund specifically designated to assist in disaster situations like this one. As of yesterday, no money from that fund has been used.

University staff, including DeHayes, recognize that this is a frustrating situation and are expressing that their goals are to keep the community safe and ensure that students finish their classes for this semester.

“The University has long had a practice and policy of ensuring that the health and safety of the URI community comes first,” said DeHayes, “[and] the other issue of concern to us and we know of concern to our students is that they want to be able to complete the academic work they started this semester.”

Adams shared a similar sentiment to DeHayes.

“We hear and, in many cases, share those concerns,” he said, “[and] that’s why we have been working non-stop. 

According to Adams, the people involved in handling the crisis have been working on pretty much nothing else.

“If it doesn’t say COVID-19 in the subject line [of the email,] we’re not talking about it,” he said. 

Adams understands that it’s difficult to not have answers about what happens next right away, considering the difficult situation that the University is facing.

“We know it’s frustrating to have things a little bit in limbo, but we’d rather have things in limbo for a situation where nobody knows where we’re going to be in a few weeks [because] we want to be able to be agile and responsive,” Adams said. “Because our priority is the health and safety of our community and having our students complete their education in the best way possible.”