The University of Rhode Island announced on March 19 that classes will be taught remotely for the remainder of the semester. This choice cancels the original plan of in-person classes resuming on April 6.
The decision was made in light of new information that has come out about the rapidly changing situation around the COVID-19 outbreak. The decision was also shared with the community hours before the University announced that the first person in its community, a staff member, had tested positive for the disease.
According to Assistant Director of Communications Dave Lavallee, in the time since it was announced last week that classes would go remote until April 3, the situation has heightened and the University has had to take precautions.
“The situation nationally and here in Rhode Island has escalated,” Lavallee said. “We’re seeing more and more cases, and I think we really want to make sure that we’re trying to do as much as we can to protect the health and safety of our students, our faculty, our staff and their families.”
While Lavallee was not on the team that ultimately made the decision, he stressed that this was not an easy choice for the University to make.
“I can’t stress enough how difficult and how intense the discussions were about this particular decision,” Lavallee said. “The level of discussion and the concern about what the University is about [and] what we’re trying to offer here was on the top of everyone’s mind.”
The campus will remain open and running for students who truly need to stay, but all are encouraged to vacate campus if possible.
“If a student absolutely needs to stay here, then that’s an option,” Lavallee said. “We don’t want to leave anybody in a spot that makes it difficult to live in the safest, healthiest place possible.”
The University is working to make sure all students are accommodated for during the pandemic by continuing service operations on campus for those staying.
Students with housing and dining contracts are able to cancel and receive a 25 percent refund of what they paid for this semester. As of right now, the deadline to complete the checkout process and remove belongings from the dorms is Sunday, April 5. More information, including options for students to request additional time or have a proxy pick up their belongings, will be provided soon, according to an email sent out by Housing and Residential Life this morning.
A decision on the outlook for the commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 16 and 17 will be announced no later than next Tuesday, March 24, according to an email sent out by URI Communications.
More information should be available in the coming days for housing processes and other student concerns.
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.