Frequently Asked Questions

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RISD Vaccination Protocol

For students, RISD will require COVID-19 vaccination in addition to the current required vaccinations. All students intending to be on campus for fall 2021 will need to provide a COVID vaccination record by August 1. Exceptions for medical conditions and religious objections must be requested by August 1. 

For employees, RISD will strongly encourage vaccination but will not require it. RISD will require vaccination disclosure (letting the institution know whether you’ve been vaccinated) for all employees, by August 1.

RISD aims to have at least 80 percent of the general community population inoculated, with 100 percent of the student population vaccinated. If RISD meets its goal, we will be able to lessen mitigation protocol, including social distancing, surveillance testing, and potentially indoor mask wearing. 

RISD will still require unvaccinated individuals to participate in regular testing to maintain access to campus. For definitional purposes, any employee who has not disclosed their vaccine status will be considered unvaccinated.

RISD is requiring that all students be vaccinated based on the risks inherent in the congregate settings in which students live, dine and socialize on our residential campus.

These transmission risks decrease with employees, who interact with each other and students in more regulated settings. However, disclosure of vaccine status is essential for faculty and staff so that RISD can be sure that the campus offers a highly vaccinated environment (>80% vaccinated) for the safety of all community members. 

The collection of vaccine disclosures is not a HIPAA-protected practice. A HIPAA-protected record is a record maintained by or for a HIPAA-covered entity, which includes entities such as health care providers, health plans, or health care clearinghouses. RISD is not a HIPAA-covered entity. However, RISD does recognize that vaccine cards may be considered sensitive information, and we are using Medicat and Workday because they are RISD’s most secure methods of receiving/storing sensitive information.

RISD has privacy and security language in its policies which explain how RISD handles the information it collects, how it is used, and RISD’s security measures (including the relevant laws). RISD is using the data to identify who is vaccinated, and reporting to the community (and RIDoH) in the aggregate (anonymized) so that RISD can make plans for a safe learning and working environment for Fall 2021. RISD is collecting the data through Medicat (students) and Workday (employees) portals, which are highly secure systems created to collect and house sensitive information.

Student Vaccination

All students will be required to show proof of vaccination by August 1. This includes undergraduate and graduate, students that live on campus or off campus.

You may request an exemption based on medical or religious reasons. You must complete the exemption form found on the Health Services portal by August 1. You have 2 other options as well – you can request to attend virtual (online) if your academic departments permits this, or you can request a deferral for one academic year and start fall 2022.

Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Sinopharm, Sinovacis, Covishield, Comirnaty

All vaccination information needs to be recorded at the Health Services portal – you will need your RISD ID and password.

We will assist students in accessing vaccines the week of August 16, before classes start. Students who cannot get vaccinated prior to this date should plan to arrive around August 16. Additional information and sign up for early arrival will be shared at a later date.

Sputnik is not approved for emergency use by Center for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO). You would need to receive another vaccination before the start of school or plan to arrive for the vaccination clinic the week of August 16. Yes receiving a second vaccination is safe, but you should also speak to your doctor if concerned.

It depends which vaccination. If you received Sinopharm, no. If you received another vaccination you will need to be re-vaccinated and should plan to arrive around August 16.

We will only be vaccinating students the week of August 16 well before the start of classes. Health Services staff will be available to support you as needed.

You should get both shots as soon as you can. If you are delayed in getting the vaccine and get your first shot and need the second we will help you secure this – the 3 approved CDC vaccines are all available in the Providence area.

You should contact the organization that provided your first vaccination shot.

Currently, you will be required to have a negative Covid PCR test to enter the US from any international destinations.

Vaccines are free. The federal government offers them free for everyone in the U.S., regardless of citizenship.

Vaccines approved for emergency use by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization are acceptable and include Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Sinopharm, Sinovac, Covishield and Comirnaty.

You need to contact the organization that supplied you the vaccination. Most are providing an electronic confirmation of the shot.

Employee Vaccination

Employees are strongly encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccine but not required to do so. Employees are required to disclose to RISD whether they have been vaccinated or not. 

Faculty and staff must report vaccination status via the Workday portal.

Instructions are available in EnglishSpanish and Portuguese

You should report your vaccination status as soon as you receive your final vaccination. All employees are required to disclose whether or not they are vaccinated by August 1. 

Generally, we are counting on the RISD community to voluntarily disclose their status, and we are reluctant to resort to penalties to motivate disclosure. At this juncture, it should be clear that there is no RISD mandate for employees to get vaccinated, and therefore there are no penalties associated with not being vaccinated.

However, to protect the health and safety of the full community, any RISD employee who is not vaccinated or who has not disclosed their vaccination status will be required to continue to participate in weekly or biweekly testing to maintain access to campus.

RISD stated that there would be medical and religious exemptions for students, but none apply to employees since they are not mandated to be vaccinated. There is no application of religious or medical accommodations to disclosure since this would mean that an employee has a medical condition, or religious objection, that prevents them from submitting the disclosure. If an employee is unable to be vaccinated due to a medical or religious reason, RISD is not asking for that information. RISD is only asking employees for disclosure of status, not for any other medical information.

Entry Quarantine

If you are fully vaccinated, no. If you need to be vaccinated you need to arrive the week of August 16 and quarantine for two weeks after you are vaccinated and before school starts.

We will permit students who live on campus to quarantine on campus after they are vaccinated.

The CDC does not require vaccinated people to quarantine if they come in contact with someone who is positive. It is recommended to self-monitor and to get a Covid test if you are symptomatic.

Health and Safety

Vaccination is being required for all students and employees will be required to disclose vaccination status by August 1.

Surveillance testing will continue throughout the summer and fall. 

The respiratory clinic—a care center dedicated to evaluating people who may have COVID-19—will continue to reside in Thompson House. If a student does contract COVID-19 or comes in contact with someone who has the virus, we have extensive contact tracing, isolation and quarantine processes in place.

Students who test positive for COVID-19, but do not need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment, are required to isolate and receive care from Student Health Services. Employees who test positive for COVID-19, but do not need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment, receive care through their primary care physician and are required to isolate at home and contact their primary health care provider. Learn more.

While we hope that the measures outlined will mitigate any widespread outbreak of COVID-19, we are prepared for various scenarios in which an outbreak might occur and have planned how we should respond, including circumstances that might warrant closing the campus. Learn more.

All community members have received training in public health guidance, and have agreed to be part of a “social compact” that upholds that guidance in the interest of community safety and well-being.  Both the Student Code of Conduct and RISD employee policies outline expectations for compliance.  Those who deliberately violate policies face disciplinary action.


All RISD community members eligible to access campus must participate in surveillance testing.

Students who have symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive receive a diagnostic test through the Respiratory Clinic at Thompson House.

Employees who have symptoms or are close contacts must test through their PCP or a state testing site.

Testing frequency will be every week for on-campus employees and biweekly for students with campus access and faculty or staff with less frequent on campus duties. 

Anyone who does not show up to surveillance testing will be asked to test as soon as possible the following week. The following repercussions are for those who miss testing a second week:

  • Student names will be submitted to their deans and faculty members and they will lose the privilege to access academic buildings.
  • Employee names will be submitted to their supervisors or department heads and they will lose access to campus buildings.

All community members who are symptomatic must let the school know and arrange for a diagnostic test by contacting Student Health Services or their health care provider.

Student Health Services has established a new and fully-staffed campus respiratory clinic in Thompson House for evaluation and testing of COVID-19 for students.

Employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus should contact their primary care provider and their supervisor as well as get tested at a Rhode Island state testing site closest to them.

If a community member’s test is negative, they receive an email prompting them to securely login to the testing portal to view their results within 24 hours. If an employee’s test is positive, Employee Health Coordinator Karen Chase, NP, will contact them directly. If a student’s test is positive, Health Services will contact them directly. Community members can log into the patient portal at any time to check their results.

RISD finds out about positive cases in one of two ways: daily reports from the Broad Institute or a self report from an employee or student who tests positive at an off-campus testing site.

When a student tests positive for COVID-19, they are immediately taken for evaluation by a clinician at the respiratory clinic and thereafter placed into isolation house.

If an employee tests positive through RISD surveillance testing, an email is sent to the employee’s supervisor and Cabinet member or Dean.

If an employee reports a positive test or has had exposure to the virus, they must report to their supervisor and their supervisor must let their Cabinet member know immediately. Cabinet members communicate with the Rapid Response Team to trigger the appropriate next steps.

Learn more

RISD is administering COVID-19 RT-PCR tests. The procedure involves a self-collected swab of the “anterior nares” (the inside of the nostril tip), with a medical provider present in case of any questions or concerns. Watch an instructional video on the self-collection process before your testing appointment.

The Broad Institute, a private, non-profit agency (affiliated with MIT and Harvard), conducts all campus population surveillance testing for RISD.

Yes, if you are a non-exempt (hourly paid) employee you should schedule testing during your work hours, whenever possible. If non-exempt (hourly paid) employees take the test outside of their work time, managers should ask the employee to agree that they will be paid for the actual time involved in taking the test.

Employees who live outside a 75 miles radius of campus will be reimbursed up to $50 if they choose to receive a test off-campus.

Tests must be taken during the surveillance period for which the individual was selected and MUST be PCR tests, not rapid or antigen tests.

Employee results from tests completed offsite must be uploaded via a secure Dropbox link, which can be found here (sign-in using RISD email address and password is required to access the doc.) Please do not send your results via email as they contain confidential information.

Surveillance testing is free to the RISD community. Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is covered by the RISD student health insurance policy and the RISD employee health insurance policy at approved locations. RISD will make options available to its on-campus faculty and staff for obtaining COVID-19 testing, where those employees do not have health insurance available to cover the cost of testing. Hospitalization and treatment for COVID-19 is covered like any standard medical treatment.

Employee Health Coordinator Karen Chase, NP, is a primary resource for managers and department heads. Employees with questions specifically related to the daily health screening can also contact her at

Students can contact RISD Health Services with questions about testing. 

Positive Cases

RISD finds out about positive cases in one of two ways: daily reports from the Broad Institute for all on campus test results, or a self report from an employee or student who tests positive at an off-campus testing site.

If you are aware of an employee who tests positive or has had exposure to the virus, please let your supervisor and your Cabinet member know immediately. They will communicate with the Rapid Response Team to trigger the appropriate next steps.

If a student tests positive or must quarantine due to exposure to COVID, an email is sent to all the student’s faculty, the Department Head and the Dean to let them know the student should not be attending classes until further notice.

If an employee tests positive, an email is sent to the employee’s supervisor and Cabinet member/Dean. 

RISD contact tracers will also notify all close contacts of the positive case, see below for what constitutes a close contact.

RISD does not disclose any identifying information about anyone who has received a positive test result. Testing data is updated on the COVID Testing Data dashboard and aggregate information is sent to the community weekly.

A close contact is defined as someone who has had one of the following interactions with the infected person starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic clients, two days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated:

  • was within six feet of an infected person for a total 15 minutes or more — so shorter but repeated contacts that add up to 15 minutes over a 24-hour period
  • had direct contact with infectious secretions of a person with COVID-19 such as being coughed on
  • is living with the infected person

Per CDC and DOH guidelines, only close contacts are required to quarantine. RISD also tests students who are close contacts exactly five and twelves days after their last interaction with the person who received a positive result.

The CDC does not require vaccinated people to quarantine if they come in contact with someone who is positive. It is recommended to self-monitor and to get a Covid test if you are symptomatic.

When a community member tests positive for COVID-19, a clinician interviews the patient to determine their close contacts. A contact tracer from RISD will reach out to those close contacts and without disclosing the name of the patient, will inform them they have been exposed to a positive case. The contact tracer will ensure that the close contacts have an adequate space to quarantine, and will instruct them on how to limit their contact with other people during the quarantine period. The contacts will be assigned a beginning and end date for their quarantine, and will be asked to get a COVID test on the fifth and twelfth days after their last exposure. They will also be asked to monitor their health carefully.  If the close contacts are students, faculty will be notified that the student is either in isolation or quarantine and will not be attending class until further notice.

CDC and DOH guidelines mandate that only close contacts take further action to protect themselves and others such as quarantining and testing. Those who followed social distancing and wore a face covering are not considered at risk of contracting the virus.

RISD is cleaning and disinfecting all shared spaces across campus 24/7. When we learn of a particular space that we suspect has been contaminated, we take appropriate measures to ensure that the space has been thoroughly cleaned immediately.

The dashboard is updated daily Monday—Friday with laboratory-verified results and there is a 48-hour delay of the data to allow notification of positive cases and contact tracing to occur.


No, the Academic Calendar for AY 2021–22 will largely return to normal under the Near Normal scenario. Learn more.

Under Near Normal scenario, RISD will revert to mostly in-person instruction, but using lessons learned from the past year about how virtual and hybrid instruction can enhance course delivery. Learn more.

To view your current schedule and see how your courses are being offered, please use the RISD Course Modality Lookup Tool.

Yes, some departments and programs will continue to teach some classes online. Learn more.

Deans and department heads will be in touch with faculty, students and staff about specific measures for their studios, classrooms and shops, and how these spaces will evolve and adapt for the Near Normal scenario. Learn more.

Yes, the Career Center will deliver its advising, programming, and resources throughout AY 21-22. Learn more.

Yes, these resources will be accessible through either virtual support, online and in-person visits or appointments. Learn more.

RISD CE programs and classes will continue to be primarily online. Moving forward, a limited number of classes will be hybrid and in-person located at the Westerly Education Center in Westerly, Rhode Island, and if it becomes feasible at Tillinghast Farm in Barrington, RI. Learn more.

The Teaching and Learning Lab offers resources and programming to support a more considered curricular transition to online and inclusion of online elements in hybrid teaching. Learn more.

Support for the new LMS will be provided through Informational Technology Services and the Teaching and Learning Lab. Learn more.

The opportunity to cross-register with Brown University will be made available again starting fall 2021. 

Campus Life

Card access to campus spaces will be restricted to eligible RISD community members.
Learn more.

Students are strongly encouraged not to travel outside of the U.S. Domestic Travel is permitted.
Learn more

Family members are encouraged to follow RI Department of Health guidelines for out of state visitors, which may change over time. Learn more.

Students living off campus are encouraged to follow all public health requirements including social distancing and surveillance testing. Learn more.

CAPs will be available for telecounseling throughout the fall term to support students.  We will provide continuous engagement opportunities for students, some virtual and some in-person, but following public health guidelines regarding social distancing and facial coverings.

Working at RISD

Generally, faculty and staff should continue remote work arrangements unless otherwise required by their essential job duties and until further notice by their supervisors. Remote RISD employees should continue to follow remote work policies. Some positions will be designated as on-campus, and RISD has established new, interim procedures in response to COVID-19.

Learn more

RISD Human Resources will work with employees and managers around effective remote work arrangements, including guidance and resources related to policies, procedures and best practices. Individual needs for technology and IT support can be indicated in the Remote Work Arrangement Request Form in Workday.

RISD Human Resources will work with employees and managers related to ongoing compliance with the College’s documented policies and procedures for their safe return to work. In addition all community members are expected to participate in educational and training programs that provide public health protocols. Learn more.

Public Health Training

All students and employees are required to complete a virtual training before they can begin classes or come onto campus.

Students should check their email address for the link to access the training or write to with concerns/questions.

Employee training is available via the new learning management system, Canvas. Employees should log onto using their RISD credentials to complete the training.

The training is required to be completed before the start of the semester.

If a community member does not complete the training, their ID card will be deactivated and they will not be permitted in any RISD buildings or exterior spaces until they do so.

Human Resources will work with managers to ensure that the training is available and completed by employees on their first day back from leave or furlough.

Printable PDF versions are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.


Yes, non-exempt (hourly paid) employees should complete the training during work hours, if possible.

Financial Impact

The Board of Trustees approved a tuition and fee increase of 2.5 percent for the academic year 2021–2022, the lowest increase since 1975. The total cost of attendance, tuition, fees, and room and board can be found on our Student Financial Services webpage.

Students will continue to have opportunities to work on campus (some jobs may be remote). 

RISD announced a 14 percent increase in financial aid for 2021-22. 

If your financial situation has been impacted due to Covid-19, please email

COVID Glossary of Terms

Quarantine​ is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others, to prevent potential spread of disease. Students quarantining on campus will not be permitted to attend any in-person classes or events, and may not have visitors, but they may engage in their classes remotely and go on solo walks to maintain good health.
  • Arrival Quarantine​ – All residential community members at RISD will need to quarantine initially for 2 weeks regardless of test result to account for any potential exposure during travel.
  • Close Contact Quarantine​ – Individuals who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 will need to quarantine for 2 weeks. Students will be able to stay in place if they are in single rooms or will be placed in special housing if they are in a shared room.
Isolation​ is used to separate people–either infected with coronavirus or being tested for such an infection–from people who are not infected. People who are in isolation should stay in place until it is determined that they may be around others. Students isolating on campus will not be allowed to leave their isolation room, will have all meals and other services delivered to the room, and the student will be contacted by Student Health Services daily for a health check.
  • Test-Pending Isolation​ – Symptomatic individuals who are being tested for COVID-19 and waiting for results must isolate. Residential community members will be moved temporarily to isolation housing; students living off-campus should isolate at home. A negative test means one can leave isolation; a positive test means that isolation will continue.
  • Test-Positive Isolation​ – Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 but do not need hospitalization will be required to isolate. Those isolating will be allowed to return to classes/work upon meeting the RIDOH guidelines for ending isolation​.
Reproduction Rate​ (R​0​ or R-value) indicates the average number of people that one person with COVID-19 is likely to infect in a population without any immunity (from previous infection) or any interventions. If the average R​0​ in the population is greater than 1, the infection will spread exponentially. If R​0​ is less than 1, the infection will spread only slowly, and it will eventually die out.
Positivity Rate​ indicates the percentage of tests that come back positive for COVID-19 out of all tests conducted. In general, a high positivity rate indicates that not enough testing is being conducted to understand the true spread of the disease; a positivity rate of 5% or below is generally regarded as “good.”
Physical Distancing​ – the need to maintain a safe distance of no less than six feet between yourself and others. The term “social distancing” is sometimes used and carries the same meaning as “physical distancing.” Physical distancing should be practiced in combination with other ​everyday preventive actions​ to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including wearing masks,​ avoiding touching your face with unwashed hands, and frequently washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Baseline/arrival testing​ – the testing that will happen at the beginning of the semester of all students and employees who will be on campus. It is the means by which we will create both a testing baseline and the surveillance testing pool.
  • Surveillance testing​ – the systematic screening of a sample of the population,including asymptomatic individuals, to identify cases.
  • Diagnostic testing​ – when a symptomatic person is tested, to determine if they are positive for COVID-19.
  • Cloth face covering​ – a fabric mask that covers the nose & mouth with at least two layers of fabric, not vented; it is the preferred method of protection at RISD.
  • Disposable/Surgical mask​ – a disposable mask that creates a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment; a single-use face covering that must be discarded after use.
  • N95 (medical grade)​ – Professional respirators, c​alled N95 respirators, are medical devices designed to prevent exposure to tiny droplets that can remain suspended in the air. Health care workers who wear them undergo a fit-test to find the right make, model, and size to ensure a tight seal. N95 respirators are currently in very short supply and should be reserved for health care providers and first responders.
  • N95 (construction grade)​ – Construction grade N95 masks, or standard N95 masks, are occupational masks that filter tiny droplets but do not have as tight of a seal as medical grade N95 masks.
  • Vented dust mask​ – a face covering used in some shops to protect the user from dust particles. Not sufficient for viral protection because it does not protect others from exhaled particles of the user. Must be used in combination with a cloth face covering.
De-Densification​ is the intentional reduction of population density on campus. Only individuals who must be on campus for class or work should be on campus.
Self-Screening ​is a method of regularly assessing one’s health based on a pre-set list of symptoms. At RISD, this must be conducted daily ​before​ coming to campus via the MyRISD app or at Faculty/supervisors may ask students/staff if they have completed the daily self-assessment on any given day.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)​ ​is equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses​. The CDC does not consider a cloth face covering to be PPE; however, for COVID-19 purposes, a medical-grade N95 mask would be considered PPE. Information on who should wear PPE can be found on the ​CDC website.

Contact tracing​ – the process of identification of persons who may have come into contact with an infected person. It is also the subsequent collection of further information about these contacts to determine if they will need to quarantine because they are considered a close contact of that infected person. All members of the RISD community are encouraged to use the ​Crush COVID​ app and/or keep a journal of daily contacts.

  • Hybrid​ courses incorporate a blend of both in-person and online forms of instruction. These courses may include synchronous and asynchronous modalities, with the potential for different pathways through the course. The ratio of in person and online delivery will vary depending on multiple factors such as the role of three-dimensional material engagement, the use of specialized facilities and equipment, the centrality of group dialogue and critique, and the nature of the assignments and learning goals. The course syllabus will include a clear description of the course delivery structure.
  • In-person​ courses involve the physical presence of both the faculty member and the students during class hours. De-densificaton and health protocols may require modifications to some aspects of in-person courses, and it is common practice for in-person classes to ask students to complete class-related activities/tasks online or remotely (eg., stream films, do research, engage in chat forums, blogs, etc.). The course syllabus will include a clear description of the course delivery structure.
  • Online ​courses will be delivered virtually. These courses may include synchronous and asynchronous modalities, with the potential for different pathways through the course. Course materials may take multiple forms, such as videos, discussions, lectures, and critiques, but instructional engagement occurs in an online environment. The course syllabus will include a clear description of the course delivery structure.
A Learning Management System (or LMS) is a centralized online platform for instructional materials and asynchronous interaction, which allows faculty and students to engage meaningfully in teaching or learning in online or hybrid learning environments

Close contact​ is the term used for individuals who have been ​within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, 2 days prior to specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.