Positive Case Protocol

Exposure and/or Positive Cases


Separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Those who test positive for COVID-19, but do not need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment, will be required to isolate. Those isolating will be allowed to return to classes and/or work after they have met the Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines for ending isolation.


Separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. Please note that only the close contacts of a positive case will need to quarantine.

Close Contacts

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 or sharing a bathroom with the infected person

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

Testing Protocol.Contact tracing


Protocol for Students


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.

The clinician also 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 contacts will be assigned to quarantine, and will be asked to get a COVID test on the fifth day of their quarantine.

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.

Quarantine Housing

Students who need to quarantine because of close contact with a positive case but are asymptomatic 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 Housing

Students who test positive for COVID-19 as well as symptomatic students awaiting test results will quarantine on the third and fourth floor residences in 15 Westminster Street (15 West), which are reserved for this purpose for the fall semester.

Off campus students who test positive for COVID-19 are encouraged to isolate on campus. There are no additional fees for housing and dining for the time student is in isolation.

Per guidelines established July 17, 2020 by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), 15 West is the only residence hall on campus with a high concentration of single-occupancy, single-bathroom housing units that meet the necessary air quality and circulation standards.

In the interest of community and individual health, we have also established the following protocols:

  • Airflow systems on the 3rd and 4th floor are configured so that air in individual rooms lets out directly to a rooftop ventilation system, without any air recirculating into corridors.
  • All designated isolation and quarantine residences include standalone HEPA filtration units.
  • Students assigned to these rooms as well as essential staff will use the elevator closest to 15 West’s Fulton Street entrance to access only the 3rd and 4th floors. Access to other floors via this elevator has been disabled.
  • Designated staff will greet quarantining students at the building’s Fulton Street entrance and escort them directly to their room via the dedicated elevator.
  • Students in quarantine will not be allowed to leave their rooms until cleared by Student Health Services, in accordance with Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines. 
  • RISD will hire 1-2 certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to monitor, answer questions for and deliver food and other necessities to quarantining students. 

Students will be permitted to return to their on-campus housing after they have met Rhode Island Department of Health guidelines for ending isolation or quarantine.

Regular check-ins

Student Health Services and Counseling and Psychological Services will check in with students in isolation and quarantine will ensure that students are getting what they need and following self-care guidelines. In addition, certified nursing assistants will care for students who have tested positive and are in isolation housing.

Drop-off meals

Meals will be dropped off for students in isolation/quarantine. Individual meals will be prepared for lunch and dinner, with a continental breakfast provided with the dinner delivery. Our Dining staff will work with students on any dietary requirements.

Academic continuity and co-curricular engagement

Course continuity and co-curricular programming will be devised for any students in quarantine or isolation. As with other instances of illness, students should contact their faculty to arrange for coursework accommodations.

Positive case faq

Protocol for Employees

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


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.

Isolate or Quarantine at Home

Employees should not report to work on campus until they have been approved to return to campus following a 14-day isolation quarantine period, or other period required by law.

Expanded Leave Benefits

Quarantine Upon Arrival to Campus

To keep our community safe, students were required to quarantine when they arrived on campus for 14 days, as well as take a COVID-19 test.