Frequently Asked Questions

We want you to have all the tools you need to weather this crisis calmly and stay in the best possible health.

Table of Contents

RISD Vaccination Protocol

Students

Eligible* students are required to receive a COVID-19 booster shot prior to their arrival to campus. Anyone who has already received an approved exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination will continue to be exempt from this requirement. Students seeking an exemption from the vaccine or booster*, must fill out a request form on the student patient portal.

*Students who are not yet eligible to receive a booster should not request exemption and can wait until eligible and boosted to upload booster verification.

Employees
Employees are required to disclose whether they have received a COVID-19 booster shot.

Booster eligibility depends on the time since completing the primary series of a vaccine. Please visit the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) website for more details.

To find a vaccine location or sign up for a booster, please visit VaccinateRI.org.

Students who are not yet eligible to receive a booster must wait until eligible and boosted to upload booster verification. An exemption is not required.

For students, RISD requires COVID-19 vaccination (including booster shots when eligible) in addition to the current required vaccinations. For employees, RISD strongly encourages vaccination (including a booster shot) but does not require it. RISD requires employee vaccination and booster disclosure (letting the institution know whether you’ve been vaccinated).

No. All students are required to be vaccinated (and boosted when eligible) in order to attend RISD except those granted approval for exemptions due to medical or religious reasons. The form can be found on the Health Services portal. Students can also request a leave of absence/deferral for one academic year and start/return Fall 2023.

There is no protocol just for unvaccinated/unboostered individuals. However, RISD strongly recommends that such individuals wear a mask while on campus, and be especially attentive to health hygiene. Vaccination and boosters are widely considered to be the most significant defenses against infection by the COVID-19 virus.

According to the CDC, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and boostered. Studies show that fully vaccinated and boosted people are less likely to spread the virus to others, even if they do get COVID-19. At more than 85 percent community booster rate, RISD is a highly vaccinated/boostered environment, so the risk of transmission is significantly reduced, and the risk of serious illness is low.

Health and Safety

While masks are not mandated for any on-campus events, RISD remains a mask-friendly campus.

While medical grade masks are now widely available commercially, approved masks are also available for free at RISD Public Safety offices at 30 Waterman Street and 15 West, and at Thompson House.

RISD’s population is highly vaccinated and boostered, with a community primary series vaccination rate of over 95 percent, and a community booster rate of over 86%. Vaccination and boosters are required for all students (medical and religious exemptions notwithstanding), and all employees are required to disclose their vaccination and booster status. Vaccines and boosters are the most effective tools in limiting the transmission of COVID-19 and mitigating serious illness, and RISD strongly encourages all employees to get inoculated.

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 are available throughout campus facilities to encourage frequent handwashing and air filtration will continue to be prioritized.

The CDC recommends using KN95, KN94 and N95 masks for approximately one week, or no more than five times/days in general. Surgical/medical procedure masks should only be used once. Do not wash and reuse medical-grade masks. Medical-grade masks should be replaced if they get wet or dirty. 

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 continuously monitors several key indicators in Rhode Island and the surrounding area. As part of this oversight we monitor CDC community risk levels, hospitalization levels, COVID-related activity on neighboring campuses, and the availability of institutional resources to support the health and safety of the RISD community. A campus-wide evacuation would be highly unlikely in the case of a significant outbreak of positive cases, as it is typically safer to shelter in place rather than travel while infected.

In case of a significant increase in the rate of transmission on campus, RISD may need to revert to more restrictive protocols including a mask mandate, random PCR surveillance testing, social distancing, and, in the extreme case, a temporary return to online instruction.

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).

Any employee who is at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, or who shares a household with someone at high risk, may submit a written request to RISD Human Resources for a job-related accommodation. Learn more.

Working at RISD

Standing and ad hoc meetings should be done in a modality that best supports the meeting’s overall goal. Meetings may be conducted either in person, virtually via Zoom, or hybrid to accommodate hybrid employees.

Yes. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 do not report to work and notify your manager of your absence. Symptomatic individuals should also notify their healthcare provider and get an off-campus COVID-19 test.

According to the CDC, the best way to protect unvaccinated family members at home is to get vaccinated yourself. Studies show that fully vaccinated people are less likely to spread the virus to others, even if they do get COVID-19.

RISD is a highly vaccinated environment. Community members wanting to protect unvaccinated children at home can take additional precautions, such as wearing face coverings indoors and practicing physical distancing when possible.

While the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does allow employers to ask and collect information on employee vaccination status, this information is considered confidential medical information under the ADA*. For this reason, RISD does not share vaccination information with supervisors / managers and they should not ask employees about their vaccination status.

*Note that this is different from HIPAA, which applies to entities such as health care providers, health plans, or health care clearinghouses. RISD is not a HIPAA-covered entity. 

As of April 11, 2022 RISD is a mask-optional / mask-friendly campus; mask-wearing remains welcome on campus. In addition, community members are invited to respectfully interact with their colleagues / classmates to express their preferences regarding COVID-19 health safety practices. However, no individual can require another individual to adopt a practice beyond those that are institutionally sanctioned. You may ask a colleague or classmate to wear a mask, but are not required to disclose any personal medical information. RISD expects that the community will engage in personal interactions with respect and tolerance. If you feel that you are at increased risk and require an accommodation, your first course of action should be to contact Health Services (students) or Human Resources (employees).

Testing

Symptomatic employees should contact their Primary Care Physician or administer a self-test using a commercially available rapid antigen test. Symptomatic students should contact Student Health Services for a PCR test. Additionally, open asymptomatic PCR testing will be available to the RISD commmunity throughout the month of September.

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.

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.

Students are escorted to isolation housing by Public Safety in 15 West or in a nearby hotel, secured by RISD for this purpose. Off-campus students are strongly encouraged to isolate on campus or are provided instruction for their off-campus residence.

Employees are required to isolate at home. Employees may request Paid Special Leave to care for themselves, and then use regular sick time. Regardless of vaccination status, you should isolate from others when you have COVID-19. You should also isolate if you are sick and suspect that you have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results. If your results are positive, follow the full isolation recommendations below. If your results are negative, you can end your isolation. Additional details can be found on the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/isolation.html

Regardless of vaccination status, you should isolate from others when you have COVID-19. You should also isolate if you are sick and suspect that you have COVID-19 but do not yet have test results. If your results are positive, follow the full isolation recommendations below. If your results are negative, you can end your isolation.Additional details can be found on the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/isolation.html

If an employee receives a posotive PCR or rapid antigen test result opff-campus they should contact their primary care provider and follow appropriate isolation guidelines. For students, positive rapid antigen test results require verificaition via PCR test; positive PCR results are considered verified positives. Students will work with Student Health Services for their isolation requirements.

Campus and Residential Life

CAPs will be available in-person and via telecounseling throughout the fall term to support students. We will provide continuous engagement and wellness opportunities for students, some virtual and some in-person, to emphasize community, connection and wellbeing.

Domestic and international travel are permitted and employees and students must follow the current Rhode Island State travel guidelines.

Travelers are encouraged to check COVID-19 policies, vaccination levels and community spread levels for their intended destination prior to booking travel. If you have any concerns about the health safety status of your destination, please contact RISD Global for a risk assessment to inform your travel plans.

Yes, both domestic and international travel is permitted and institutionally supported.

Yes. Students may host visitors in the residence halls.

RISD faculty and staff seeking access to Brown facilities and programs will be subject to Brown’s visitor and guest COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

Brown students, faculty and staff are required and deemed to be fully vaccinated and can access, as appropriate and allowed, facilities and programs on the RISD campus.

Yes. CSI offers in-person programming and support for clubs and organizations, which can host in-person activities.

RISD will return to indoor seating in dining venues in accordance with state guidelines and outdoor dining space will also continue to be available. 

Use of mobile ordering will continue in Portfolio, Co-Op Market, and potentially in cafe spaces for convenience and efficiency. Isolation meals will continue as delivery service to 15 West.

Glossary of COVID Terms