Health and Prevention

RISD community members must take responsibility for their own health, as well as the health of others, by adopting habits to prevent and slow the spread of the COVID-19. It is important to self-monitor for symptoms, practice social distancing, self-isolate when needed and follow health guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

See Screening, Testing and Care.


For Fall 2020 the RISD campus will be occupied at significantly lower density levels. Core studio and shop-based courses will be held in person and other courses will take place online or in a hybrid online-plus-embodied version. Wherever possible, employees will continue to work from home to keep the density of our campus as low as possible.

Social Distancing Protocol

The CDC advises that limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing means keeping space between yourself and other people outside of your home. To practice social distancing, the CDC recommends that individuals stay at least six feet (about two arms’ length) from other people, do not gather in groups, stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings. Interactions that cannot be conducted while maintaining six-feet of distance should be limited to less than 15 minutes at a time and/or include increased personal protective equipment.

Space Configuration

  • Any space where people congregate, including shops, studios, classrooms, and dining halls, must be configured to provide for six-feet of separation between people occupying the space.
  • Physical barriers will be installed for walk-up service desks, cashier’s stations and other points of service in addition to the use of technology, drop-off points and vending to lessen person-to-person contact.
  • Each academic department will redistribute desks, tables, easels and other studio and shop furnishings in line with CDC guidelines around social distancing, and tape and other physical markers will outline space around specific equipment and designate six feet of space in shared areas.
  • Each non-academic department will be required to submit a plan for review to define how their space will be de-densified. RISD Employees should hold meetings using existing videoconferencing technology wherever possible, and use physical meeting spaces that allow for social distancing where videoconferencing is not possible.
  • For all shared or common spaces, RISD will post on the entrance the required configuration of the room and any restrictions on use. The total number of people allowed to congregate in open public areas, like the RISD Store or mailroom, will be limited in accordance with state regulations. For areas that allow for large groups to maintain social distancing, prescribed entrance/egress pathways will be established to limit the opportunity for people to pass each other on their way in/out and, when needed, to aid in keeping an accurate headcount on how many people are in a space at one time.

See section 6, page 33 of Reopening the Campus: AY20–21 report (PDF) for space planning diagrams.

Signage and Visual Cues
Every building on the RISD campus will have site-specific wayfinding, educational and COVID-specific visual information to reinforce public health protocols and direct circulation.

Signage will include floor and wall decals, free-standing stanchions, and potentially also digital signage. The firm Innerface Architectural Signage was retained to produce a sample package for one RSID building (20 Washington Place). The proposal is currently under review by several RISD entities for graphic quality, effectiveness and price.

Innerface’s image of PW floor plan showing signage density

Egress and Flow Patterns
Egress and flow patterns will be adjusted to accommodate social distancing requirements in addition to limitations on elevator capacity and staggered release of classes.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Increased custodial staff will be responsible for regularly disinfecting key areas across campus, including common areas with regular traffic at least once daily; public restrooms in academic and administrative buildings, every four hours during normal hours of operation; residence halls twice a day, more for areas that house students in quarantine; and high-touch surface areas, multiple times daily. In addition:

  • Users of classrooms, shops and other instructional spaces will clean surfaces before/after each discrete use.
  • Sanitizer stations have been placed around campus, and sanitizer wipe dispensers will be installed/available next to public workstations.
  • All buildings will be fogged with disinfectant on a weekly rotating schedule.

HVAC and Air Filtration

RISD has hired external consultants consisting of an industrial hygienist and HVAC engineer to review all heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems on campus and provide recommendations to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Cloth face coverings must be worn on campus whenever people are in a shared space. Every member of the RISD community who is required to be on campus will be given a cloth mask, with disposable masks available around campus as backups. In addition, custodial and dining staff must wear cloth face coverings and gloves, and higher-level PPE will be provided to all employees required to wear it in order to safely perform their job duties.

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