Return to work

RISD plans to return to significant on-site operations for the fall 2021 semester. Faculty and staff may return to in-person, on-campus work starting September 1 with increased flexibility depending on the requirements of the position, but must wear face coverings indoors at all times when in proximity of others. Employees may remove face coverings when they are alone in their offices.

Preparation for return to campus

RISD has implemented changes to daily operations to ensure our community will be safe as we reunite on campus. These include:

  • continued cleaning and ventilation protocols with increased outdoor air circulation and filter efficiency.
  • increased videoconferencing capabilities in classrooms and meeting rooms across campus.
  • new policies to help guide staff and supervisors as they plan for remote and hybrid work arrangements.

Divisions should assess how face coverings impact in-person work while also recognizing that employees and offices actively engaged in supporting the student and/or academic experience may be required to work on campus regardless of the requirement.

All RISD employees who return to work on campus are expected to:

  • follow the policies and protocol established by RISD to promote the safety and wellbeing of the RISD campus community. RISD will publish these policies and procedures online and post information in relevant locations as it becomes available.
  • familiarize themselves with RISD policies and procedures and updated guidance as provided by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the State of Rhode Island (RI), including the RI Department of Health (RIDOH). RISD will post guidance from these organizations to inform employees of recent updates.

Employees who fail to observe COVID-19 workplace expectations, policies and requirements as detailed throughout this site, in college communications and in RISD’s required COVID-19 trainings may be subject to progressive, corrective HR employment processes in accordance with applicable disciplinary procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Faculty and staff have full access to campus and can work in person, remotely or in a hybrid fashion as agreed upon with their supervisor as part of the Remote and Hybrid Work pilot program. Faculty and staff must comply with all health and safety protocol to maintain access to campus.

Learn more about Remote and Hybrid Work Arrangements

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-19.1 At more than 85 percent community vaccination, 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 COVID1-9. If you continue to be concerned you should contact RISD Human Resources.

According to the guidance we are receiving 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-shot vaccine, are still at greater risk of infection than fully vaccinated individuals and therefore require testing to protect their own health as well that of those around them. According to the CDC, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. Health experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19.

According to the guidance we are receiving 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-shot vaccine, are still at greater risk of infection than fully vaccinated individuals and therefore require testing to protect their own health as well that of those around them. According to the CDC, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. Health experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Studies have shown that vaccination provides a strong boost in protection in people who have recovered from COVID-19.

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).

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 about COVID-19 related accommodations at RISD. 

No. Face coverings remain required indoors to help prevent breakthrough infection of vaccinated individuals. Therefore, it is essential that everyone continue to wear face coverings indoors in group settings regardless of vaccination status. In addition, individuals should not ask others for information about their vaccination status. 

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.

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. 

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

Only individuals who meet the defined criteria of a close contact should take extra precautions after exposure to COVID-19.

Fully vaccinated individuals with no COVID-like symptoms do not need to quarantine, but are required to wear a face covering and test on day five following exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Employees can continue to come to work on campus during this time as their risk of infection is low. However, they should still monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days following an exposure.

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.

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. 

Yes, because of the high vaccination rate of both campuses, RISD and Brown have signed an agreement that allows students, faculty and staff who are vaccinated to move between campuses. Note that all students and employees at Brown are required to be vaccinated.