First week of RWU classes with revamped COVID guidelines


Emily Dvareckas

Students walking in between CAS and new SECCM building. Fall semester COVID guidelines say that masks are not required when walking outside.

Classes resumed for students at Roger Williams University on Tuesday, Aug. 31. The start of the new fall semester comes with revised COVID guidelines the RWU community must follow. These guidelines were communicated to students, faculty and staff during the summer.

The safety protocols are as follows for students, faculty and staff: masks must be worn indoors regardless of vaccination status unless it is in an enclosed individual office, their own dorm room, or to eat or drink; masks are optional outdoors for vaccinated individuals while unvaccinated individuals are required to do so; vaccinated individuals have to test once a week and those with vaccine exemptions have to test twice a week.

COVID room capacity limits for residence hall rooms and suites remained unchanged from the spring semester.

Junior Matt Fortin said he was fine with the current COVID guidelines.

“I’m glad they’re [the current COVID guidelines] loosened up,” said Fortin. “We [vaccinated students] don’t have to wear masks outdoors because most of everybody is vaccinated and I think we’re [RWU] pretty on top of things with the weekly testing and still masking indoors, I think they are all pretty solid policies.”

Ian Swanson, also a junior, said he liked the testing guidelines as well as the new testing methods.

“It’s [RWU COVID testing] a whole lot better than it used to be,” said Swanson. “Especially with the rapid testing and pool testing. I feel like that’s a lot easier for people to get behind. It’s not as invasive.”

Sophomore Caity Boufford said she wanted the room capacity limits and indoor masking guidelines to change.

Regarding the room capacity limits, Boufford said, “I feel like if you can be around groups of people outside and you can be around a ton of people in classrooms, inside shouldn’t be much different.”

Sophomore Hunter Phillips expressed a similar sentiment on the indoor masking guidelines.

“I understand it [indoor masking] for the first couple weeks while everyone’s coming from different spots but I feel like once they [the Reopening Roger Steering Committee] reevaluate it, it should go away because everyone’s on campus and in the same environment at that point.”

King recognized the fact that students may be frustrated with the revised guidelines.

“The general feedback is that of course students are disappointed that we have to start off with indoor masking,” said King. “They had been hoping and expecting that we would be able to avoid that due to our high vaccination rate, but for the most part students understand and they see the same approach being used in restaurants increasingly and in venues they go to visit.”

According to an email sent by Miaoulis, masking and testing procedures will be reviewed the week of Sept. 15.

King said he and the Reopening Roger Steering Committee would be responsible for the review of the masking and testing procedures.

“We [the Reopening Roger Steering Committee] will meet the week of the fifteenth,” said King. “We will look at our positivity rate, our trends, all the information related to any positives, our testing participation rates. We will also look at what’s going on in Providence, the state of Rhode Island, and the counties we [the university] live in.”

King also said “a large factor is going to be cases per 100,000 people in the state and in the counties that surround us. That will be one of the largest driving factors for our decision making.”

As of Sept. 8, indoor dining is available for students only. Students are limited to five individuals per table and the university is asking them to keep track of who they sit with.

King said in a Sept. 1 interview that in over two weeks of clearance testing there were a total of seven positive cases including one from the School of Law. One student went into isolation at Baypoint while the other students went home or off-campus to be in isolation. No students who were close contacts of the students that tested positive were quarantined because they were all vaccinated.

According to King as of Wednesday, Sept. 1, the vaccination rate for employees is over 98% and the student vaccination rate is over 92%.

“We could go slightly higher on the student vaccination rate. We are still working with students who are either not here yet or not living off campus on vaccinations,” said King.

King said that he wanted to tell the RWU community that we are all in this together.

“It’s important that everybody does their part. When we are not on campus we should be taking precautions. When we’re on campus we should be taking precautions,” said King. “It’s so important that we think about others and not just ourselves and our own individual freedoms. This is a public health emergency. It’s not an individual health emergency.”