Fall 2021 Protocol

At a Glance

  • Vaccination

    RISD requires all students to receive the COVID-19 vaccination to be enrolled for the fall 2021 semester. RISD does not require employee vaccination, but does require disclosure of whether employees have received the vaccine. All undisclosed/unvaccinated employees are required to test weekly to maintain campus access.

  • Face Coverings

    RISD will continue to require that face coverings be worn indoors, except while eating, but they can be removed in outdoor settings. Non-vaccinated individuals should continue to wear face coverings outdoors if they cannot practice physical distancing. Students may remove face coverings when in their residence hall rooms, even in the presence of their roommates. Employees may remove face coverings when working alone in their offices.

  • Physical Distancing

    RISD will remove the physical distancing requirement for vaccinated employees and students. Non-vaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to continue to physically distance themselves at least 6 feet from others.

  • Gatherings and Events

    There will be no capacity limits for internal gatherings on the RISD campus, including academic, co-curricular, and community-wide events, but all participants must wear face coverings while indoors. RISD will not host public events that are being held indoors (full or in part) and asks that only two external participants be present for each indoor event, meeting, crit, or gathering. Outdoor public events can be held and non-vaccinated attendees should wear masks when they can not maintain three feet of social distancing. Visitors will be allowed in all RISD buildings, including residence halls, but must wear face coverings when indoors.

    Spaces that are open to the public, such as the RISD Museum, Fleet Library, and the RISD Store, will follow general business guidelines from the State of Rhode Island, adding the additional measure of requiring face coverings.

  • Testing

    RISD will require arrival testing for all returning students, faculty and staff. RISD will not require a “quiet period” (10 day entry quarantine) before the start of the fall term.

    Mandatory weekly testing for COVID-19 will be required for 100 percent of the unvaccinated/undisclosed population to maintain access to all campus facilities.

    Surveillance testing for COVID-19 will continue at a rate of 20 percent of the vaccinated population per week.

    Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 will continue to be provided to students who have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 in Health Services. Employees must seek diagnostic testing at state testing centers or through their primary care physician.

  • Positive Cases

    RISD will continue to track, inform and contact trace all student and employee positive cases, regardless of vaccination status or whether they are symptomatic or not.

    Any individual (vaccinated or unvaccinated) who tests positive for COVID-19 must isolate until fever free for 24 hours without medication, symptoms have improved and it has been 10 days since symptoms started.

    Fully vaccinated individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and are asymptomatic are still required to isolate for 10 days.

    Non-vaccinated close contacts must quarantine for 10 days following an exposure to someone with confirmed COVID-19. They may retest three to five days after exposure and be released from quarantine on day seven upon receipt of a negative test result.

    Fully vaccinated close contacts who do not have symptoms do not have to quarantine, but must be tested on day five and wear a face covering in public settings (required by RISD regardless). If the test is positive, they must isolate for 10 days from the positive test result, whether or not they have symptoms.

  • Campus Facilities

    Capacity limits will be removed in residential halls, classrooms and shared spaces on campus, including bathrooms, kitchens, offices and conference rooms. Custodial staff will continue regular cleaning and disinfecting of common areas in all buildings including residence halls and dining facilities. Air quality will continue to be a priority with increased outdoor air circulation and filter efficiency.

  • Travel

    RISD-sponsored domestic travel will be permitted. RISD-sponsored international travel is not permitted unless circumstances warrant an exception. Exceptions require advance approval by either the Provost or the SVP of Finance & Administration/Interim President.

Frequently Asked Questions

For latest updates about Fall 2021 Protocol, view recent Recordings of RISD Community Town Hall Meetings.

RISD’s population is highly vaccinated, with a community vaccination rate of over 85 percent. Vaccination is required for all students (medical and religious exemptions notwithstanding); and all employees are required to disclose their vaccination status. Vaccines are the single most effective tool in limiting the transmission of COVID-19 and mitigating serious illness, and RISD strongly encourages all employees to get inoculated.

RISD will continue to require face coverings indoors and will conduct asymptomatic community surveillance testing to monitor for any breakthrough variants or clustered outbreaks. Those community members who are not vaccinated will be required to participate in increased testing protocol to monitor their health safety. 

Students and employees are encouraged to continue monitoring their own health — both in relation to COVID-19 and other contagious illnesses — to help keep our communities healthy. If a student or employee is feeling symptomatic, they will be directed to consult with Student Health Services (students) or notify their supervisor and consult their healthcare provider (employees).

RISD maintains a thorough cleaning protocol for campus facilities. Bathrooms are sanitized daily, and high-touch areas are cleaned frequently. Additionally, hand sanitizer stations will remain available throughout campus facilities to encourage frequent handwashing and air filtration will continue to be prioritized .

No. RISD will remove the physical distancing requirement for employees and students. As such, RISD will remove capacity limits in residential halls, classrooms or shared spaces on campus, including bathrooms, kitchens, offices, and conference rooms. In addition, faculty and staff will be permitted to return to in-person, on-campus work with increased ability to work in a hybrid or remote manner depending on the requirements of the position.

No. RISD will not require a “quiet period” (10 day entry quarantine) before the start of the fall term. However, all faculty, students and staff will be required to test upon arrival.

Yes. Following CDC guidance for face coverings in areas of high transmission, face coverings will be required inside of RISD buildings. RISD will continue to monitor transmission levels and public health guidance and may lift the face covering mandate as conditions improve.

Students may remove face coverings when in their residence hall rooms, even in the presence of their roommates. Employees may remove face coverings when working alone in their offices. 

There are no restrictions on the use of bathrooms. Individuals should wear face coverings when in shared bathrooms. In addition, toilet lids installed during AY 2020–21 will remain in place and community members are encouraged to close the toilet lid before flushing. Bathrooms are sanitized daily, and high-touch areas are cleaned frequently. Additionally, hand sanitizer stations will remain available throughout campus facilities to encourage frequent handwashing.

Shared items will be made available for community use as transmission and infection from surfaces and food is rare. However, following CDC guidance, transmission prevention strategies such as frequent handwashing and respiratory etiquette should be observed by all RISD community members.

There are no capacity limits or restrictions on food or beverage at RISD gatherings and events, however RISD will not host indoor events (full or in part) open to the public and asks that only two external participants be present for each event, meeting, crit, or gathering. Outdoor events can be open to the public and non-vaccinated attendees asked to wear a mask if three feet of social distancing can not be maintained.

Event hosts or planners cannot ask for proof of vaccination, but they can ask specific COVID-19 screening questions as a requirement for admittance to events. Participants and attendees are required to wear face coverings at all indoor events or gatherings.

RISD will continue to prioritize high levels of air filtration and will maintain an increased frequency of regular maintenance, continue to set exterior air setting to the maximum permitted by the system design, adopt MERV 13 HVAC filters as the RISD standard in all fixed mechanical systems, and continue making stand-alone HEPA ventilation units available until ASHRAE or CDC guidelines recommend otherwise. 

All community members are expected to uphold RISD’s public health protocol in the interest of community safety and well-being. Both the Student Code of Conduct and RISD employee policies outline expectations for compliance with public health guidelines. Those who deliberately violate policies face corrective action.

RISD will monitor the infection levels in Rhode Island and the surrounding area. As part of this oversight we will pay attention to hospitalization levels, what is happening on neighboring campuses and the availability of resources.

In case of an outbreak on campus (10+ cases in one week) RISD may need to tighten restrictions on a temporary basis to assess an imminent threat to public health, which may include:

  • Increasing surveillance testing
  • Limiting gatherings and student activities
  • Moving to remote learning for a specific length of time 

In case of a significant degradation of the public health context on campus, RISD might be compelled to pivot temporarily to the “Vaccine Failure” scenario, outlined in the AY 2021–22 Planning Report.

If you seek a modification to RISD’s COVID-19-related processes or equipment because of a medical condition or a religious belief, please contact Student Affairs (students) or Human Resources (employees).