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

RISD now includes booster vaccination in requirements for community vaccination and disclosure.

Students
All eligible* students are required to receive a COVID-19 booster shot no later than February 16, 2022 (the first week of spring semester).

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
All employees are required to disclose whether they have received a COVID-19 booster shot no later than February 16, 2022 (the first week of spring semester). All undisclosed/unvaccinated employees are required to test weekly to maintain campus access.

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. 

Employees who are not yet eligible to receive a booster must still disclose by February 16, 2022. The disclosure form includes an option to indicate if one is not yet eligible for the booster.

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).

Vaccination rates are publicly available on the RISD COVID-19 dashboard.

RISD’s primary condition for lifting various COVID protocols, such as physical distancing, is to have a highly vaccinated population, defined as at least 80 percent of the on-campus community. RISD’s approach of mandating the vaccine for all students, but only mandating disclosure for all employees, has yielded a vaccination rate well in excess of 80% for Fall 2021. The process required the submission of detailed documentation from both students and employees, so RISD has a high degree of confidence that the underlying data is reliable and that we will have similar success with booster rates for Spring 2022.

Vaccination rates are publicly available on the RISD COVID-19 dashboard.

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 have two other options as well—they can request to attend classes virtually (online) if the academic departments permit this, or they can request a leave of absence/deferral for one academic year and start/return Fall 2022.

RISD has privacy and security language in its policies that 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.

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.

…I have natural immunity because I have been infected with COVID-19 previously and so have not received the vaccine?

…I have received one dose but will not receive a full dose of the COVID-19 vaccine?

…I am vaccinated but not boosted?

No. RISD is not conducting or requiring regular surveillance testing. However, according to the guidance from health experts, people who are not fully vaccinated, even if they had COVID in the past or have had one dose of a two-dose vaccine, are at greater risk of infection than fully vaccinated and boostered individuals and should take extra precautions, such as wearing a mask on campus. According to the CDC, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you’ve already had COVID-19.

Health and Safety

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. 

Correct and consistent mask use is a critical step everyone can take to reduce their risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. In order to be effective, masks must always be worn over the nose and mouth. To get a good fit, make sure to bend the nose wire over your nose to conform to your face.

While medical grade masks are now widely available, please be aware that many brands do not meet CDC or FDA approval. An excellent resource for information about types and sources of masks is the Project N95 nonprofit organization.

No. As of April 11, 2022, RISD is a mask optional / mask welcome campus with only two exceptions: masks are required in the Health Services facility and in RISD Rides / Shuttles. While individuals are not required to wear masks on campus, those who wish to do so are entirely welcome to do so, and cannot be required to refrain from wearing a mask. Inversely, no individual is empowered to require another member of the RISD community to wear a mask.

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 restrictions on campus events and gatherings; proof of vaccine/booster status is no longer required at RISD events.

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

Faculty and staff may return to in-person, on-campus work starting February 17, 2022, with flexibility depending on the requirements of the position and conversations with your manager (mirroring protocol in the fall).

Please consult with your manager or supervisor about remote work arrangements. Faculty and staff must comply with all health and safety protocol to maintain access to campus. Questions should be directed to RISD Human Resources at humres@risd.edu. 

Learn more about Remote and Hybrid Work Arrangements

Standing and ad hoc meetings should be done in a modality that best supports the accomplishment of the meeting goal. Meetings may be conducted either in person or virtually via zoom. However, in order to ensure consistency of communication, participation and experience, individual meetings should only be conducted in one modality at any given time (in other words, meetings that have some participants meeting in person and others via zoom are discouraged).

Reasonable accommodations may be provided to employees or students with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their jobs or equal access to education, so long as the accommodations do not fundamentally alter the nature of the academic course, policies, or the nature of RISD’s operations, and do not place an undue hardship on the institution. Accommodations are determined on a case-by-case basis, according to the documented disability and the interactive process. Students who request accommodations should meet with DSS, and employees should meet with HR.

As of April 11, 2020 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).

RISD Rides shuttle and van services are contracted to an external transportation company, and  fall under the federal masking guidance for transportation services. Such services include most modes of transportation, including airplanes, trains, buses and ride sharing services such as Uber, Lyft, and RISD Rides. Passengers cannot utilize these services unless they are wearing a face covering as long as the federal mandate is in effect.

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.

Contact your supervisor/dean if you believe there is a health risk in your workplace, including a potential risk posed by a coworker.

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. RISD will expand its accommodations policy to include employees who have household members who have increased risk of severe illness of COVID-19. If you continue to be concerned you should contact RISD Human Resources.

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* and RISD’s method of collecting the information in Workday is designed to maintain employee confidentiality. 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. 

Yes, under the circumstances existing currently, employers can ask specific screening questions related to whether an employee has COVID-19, has symptoms associated with COVID-19, or has been tested for COVID-19.  The ADA prohibits broad disclosure of this information by an employer or supervisor to others in the workplace. Alternatively, an employee can request reasonable accommodation with respect to screening.

No. RISD does not disclose vaccination status to supervisors. Supervisors are also not allowed to ask an employee if they have been vaccinated. 

No. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from asking employees medical questions about family members. GINA, however, does not prohibit RISD from asking employees whether they have had contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 or who may have symptoms associated with the disease.

If a supervisor/dean receives medical information involving COVID-19, the supervisor/dean should notify RISD Human Resources immediately. Only RISD Human Resources should handle medical information of employees.

Yes. RISD is committed to creating and providing a learning, living, and working environment free of discrimination and harassment for all students, faculty and staff. It is against EEO laws to harass or otherwise discriminate against coworkers based on race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, national origin, veteran status, and/or genetic information. Employees, including supervisors and managers, should report any conduct that conflicts with these laws and standards to RISD Human Resources or the Office of Institutional Bias and Discrimination. RISD will review any allegations of harassment or discrimination and take appropriate action.

Testing

As of April 11, 2022, RISD no longer requires testing of asymptomatic community members. RISD has distributed free rapid antigen tests to enable any community member to test as they deem appropriate given their particular circumstances. RISD encourages community members who are feeling ill or believe they may have been exposed to the virus to use the antigen tests and to report any positive results to either Health Services (students) or via an upload to Workday (employees). Additionally, RISD continues to offer open hours of PCR testing throughout the Spring semester. Sign-up for testing (required) is available here.

Students
If a student misses their testing appointment, they must reschedule as soon as possible for the next available testing time.

If an unvaccinated or partially vaccinated student misses two weeks of testing, their campus access will be deactivated and their department will be notified. Access will only be restored once a negative test result is received. If students do not test, they will be removed from campus housing (if applicable) and unenrolled from RISD.

Employees
Unvaccinated, undisclosed or unboosted employees who miss weekly testing must email COVIDUpdates@risd.edu to provide a valid excuse or schedule a make-up testing appointment. Employees may be subject to additional measures for unexcused missed testing appointments.

Learn more

All community members who are symptomatic must let the school know and arrange for a diagnostic test through Student Health Services (students) or their health care provider/local testing facility (employees).

PCR

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

Antigen

Antigen (rapid/at-home) testing is a supplement to PCR. All community members have access to six antigen tests, distributed at the beginning of the spring term to help faculty, staff, and students be proactive in monitoring their health status. Antigen tests are best used proactively, such as testing before or after travel or an event, or if you are experiencing mild symptoms.

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.

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 may be reimbursed up to $50 if they receive a PCR test off-campus to verify a positive antigen test result.

Employee results from tests completed offsite may be uploaded via Workday using a task called “Add My Workplace Test” found using the search bar. Instructions for uploading positive test results in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Please do not send your results via email as they contain confidential information.

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.

Notification

Students are notified of a positive test result by Health Services (HS) who gives isolation instruction and collects close contacts; HS notifies the student’s faculty, department head, dean, GPD if applicable and all close contacts.

Employees are notified by Employee Health Coordinator (EHC) Karen Chase or employee discloses to RISD an offsite positive result; EHC gives isolation instruction and collects close contacts; EHC notifies supervisor /department head, HR Partner and all close contacts.

Isolation

In line with recent guidance from the CDC and RIDOH, the following isolation protocols are in place for RISD students and employees:

  • Any symptomatic individual (vaccinated, boostered 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 at least FIVE days from when symptoms first began. After completing isolation, those individuals should wear a mask around others for FIVE more days.
  • Any asymptomatic individual who tests positive but, have not had, and do not have symptoms must isolate for FIVE days from the date of their positive test, and must wear a mask around others for FIVE additional days thereafter.

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. Regular check-ins from Health Services and CAPS occur and meals are delivered.

Employees are required to isolate at home. Employees may request Paid Special Leave for up to 10 business days to care for themselves, and then use regular sick time.

No. RISD considers a positive PCR test as a verified positive result, and so-called breakthrough cases, in which an individual who is vaccinated and boostered nonetheless becomes infected, do occur. Note that if you have had COVID previously, you must wait at least 90 days before administering another PCR test to avoid a false positive. If you test positive with a PCR test, you should notify Health Services (students) or upload the result to Workday (employees) and isolate for five days.

Yes, symptomatic individuals must isolate while awaiting PCR test results. RISD provides separate individual isolation housing for students for the duration of the isolation period.

Starting in Wintersession, RISD may make allowances for symptomatic vaccinated students with a negative antigen test to isolate in place while awaiting PCR test results. While isolating in their regular room assignment, they must wear a face covering and only leave the room for grab-and-go meals (if unable to obtain meals another way) and restroom use.

Such allowances will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and vaccine-exempt students who are symptomatic will still be required to isolate in isolation housing while awaiting PCR test results.

A close contact is defined as someone who has had one of the following interactions with the infected person starting from two days before the illness onset (or, for asymptomatic clients, two days prior to a 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 — including 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, the following quarantine protocols are required: 

  • Close contacts of people with COVID-19 who are unvaccinated or are vaccinated but have not received a booster must quarantine (stay home) for FIVE days following the date of exposure. They should undergo COVID testing on day 5, and must wear a mask around others for FIVE additional days—a total of TEN days.
  • Fully vaccinated and boosted close contacts who do not have symptoms do not have to quarantine, but must be tested five days after exposure. If the test is positive, they must isolate for at least FIVE days from the positive test result.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, any close contact who develops fever or other symptoms must get a test and isolate for FIVE days if the test is positive.

No. Fully vaccinated and boosted close contacts who do not have symptoms do not have to quarantine, but must be tested five days after exposure. If the test is positive, they must isolate for at least FIVE days from the positive test result. 

Yes. Contact tracers from RISD will continue to contact RISD-affiliated close contacts regardless of the vaccination or symptom status of the positive case. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) also completes contact tracing for RISD community members, so close contacts may hear from both parties. RISD protocol and requirements always take precedence over RIDOH guidance for RISD community members.

If an employee receives a positive PCR or rapid antigen test result off-campus, they must upload their positive rapid antigen or PCR test results via Workday by typing “Add My Workplace Test” in the search bar. For students, positive rapid antigen test results require verification via a PRC test; positive PCR results are considered verified positives and require isolation.

CDC and DOH guidelines mandate that only close contacts (see definition below) of people with COVID-19 who are unvaccinated or are vaccinated but have not received a booster must quarantine (stay home) for FIVE days following the date of exposure. They should undergo COVID testing on day 5, and must wear a mask around others for FIVE additional days—a total of TEN days.

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 — including 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

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.

Academics

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

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

Yes, approximately 5 percent of RISD’s courses will be taught online. Learn more.

Yes. RISD’s studios, shops, and centers will be open for RISD students, faculty and staff during Fall 2021 semester, Wintersession 2022 and Spring 2022.

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

The opportunity to cross-register with Brown University will be made available again starting Fall 2021 to all RISD students. Unvaccinated students (those with an exemption) are required to wear masks on Brown’s campus.

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.

Employees and students must follow the current Rhode Island State travel guidelines for international and domestic travel.

Domestic and international travel are permitted as of April 11, 2022. 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 as of April 11, 2022.

Yes. Students may host visitors in the residence halls.

Brown and RISD students are deemed to be fully vaccinated (students with approved exemptions are required to wear masks) and can access, as appropriate and allowed, facilities and programs on both campuses with their Brown or RISD identification card and without further documentation or proof of vaccination. Access to facilities and programs on both campuses will be subject to all other policies and protocols as determined by each institution (e.g., access to dining facilities limited to students enrolled in meal plans).

RISD faculty and staff seeking access to Brown facilities and programs will be subject to Brown’s visitor and guest COVID-19 vaccination requirements and must complete a vaccination attestation form in advance of accessing Brown facilities and programs. Limited-duration visitors (those  attending a single meeting, lecture, performance, conference, event or athletic competition) are not required to sign a vaccination form; they must abide by the Brown University COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy and any requirements specific to the facility or program they are visiting (e.g., health care or medical research settings with indoor mask requirements). These visitors must wear a mask if they are unvaccinated. 

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 will offer in-person programming and support for clubs and organizations, which can resume in-person activities. All programs, remote or in-person, will be recorded and posted for students’ viewing after the program.

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.

Yes, these resources are open to in-person visits at pre-COVID levels of service.

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.

RISD is prepared to assist current students whose families are negatively affected by COVID-19. If your and/or your family’s financial circumstances have changed due to COVID, we encourage you to be in touch with RISD’s financial aid office.

Glossary of COVID Terms