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DUE TO COVID-19, CLASSES ARE BEING HELD REMOTELY FROM MARCH 30–MAY 22. FIND UPDATES ON OUR HEALTH & WELLNESS SITE AND FROM THE CDC.

RISD Community Town Hall

President Somerson, Provost Kleinman and others address questions about the impact of COVID-19 on teaching and learning this spring.

transcript
OVERVIEW / CURRENT CONDITIONS
President Rosanne Somerson

Welcome students, faculty, staff and families from across the globe, including here in Providence. We gather at a moment of global crisis. COVID-19 threatens the health, the livelihood and even the lives of a significant percentage of our community. The city of Providence, the state of Rhode Island and the federal government have all declared states of emergency. World governments are taking unprecedented steps, closing borders, restricting travel, instituting emergency financial measures.

RISD is taking drastic actions too to protect first of all the health and safety of everyone in our community and secondly the academic mission of our school. This community effort requires sacrifice and cooperation from students, faculty, staff and administration. Above all this is a time for us to pull together, to help each other and to forge through to the end of this crisis.

No one knows answers to the critical questions we face. When will this be over and how will this unfold? We are therefore following the best and most current guidance available from experts at the Rhode Island Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and through direct conversations with our senators, members of congress and other political representatives who have all been forthcoming, available and supportive.

As of today there are 54 documented positive cases in Rhode Island. This number will likely increase dramatically. Though fortunately no one in the RISD community is in that 54, thank goodness. In accordance with the directive from the CDC for social distancing, we have suspended face-to-face classes, evacuated students who are able to leave and provided care for those students who cannot leave. Where possible staff are working remotely. We have canceled public events and closed our public-facing museum and library. We have summoned faculty to transform their teaching under remote platforms to preserve our students’ ability to obtain credit and to graduate.

This is truly a collaborative learning experience for all of us: faculty and students alike. We will talk in detail today about some of those challenges and highlight many remarkable efforts put forth. The technology needs for successful remote learning and work are significant. We have distributed loaner equipment and are providing training to students, faculty and staff literally across the globe.

Let us not underestimate the seriousness of this or the scope of this challenge. Let us not forget the necessity for each of us to participate in the positive resolution of this crisis. The financial impacts of this crisis will be severe both for individuals and the institution. We’re taking the following steps to mitigate financial impacts for students, families, faculty and staff. We are refunding prorated room and board for all students who have left our residences. We have provided travel assistance including some airfares in addition to $150 for each student with a financial aid record on file to defray travel and moving costs. Travel assistance needed beyond that is being offered case by case for all students, domestic and international.

So far 826 students have received such assistance. Our Student Emergency Fund, which was started last year by generous parents and supplemented by many of you, has funds available to help students who need additional financial support. If that is you or a friend, please reach out to the Financial Aid office to access available assistance. We’ve redesigned the homepage of the risd.edu site to make it easier to find both how to support students with need and how to get access to those resources.

We have provided on-campus housing and meals for about 165 students who for various reasons were not able to relocate because of personal and/or financial hardship. We have created materials funds and in some cases kits that were either distributed or that are being mailed in order for students to fulfill class needs. We have shipped out a number of laptops and desktops for students without computer access. We have also loaned equipment for student use where possible.

Technology support has been made available to get everyone up and running and we’re working now to get access to proprietary software to all students whose work requires it. Departmental technicians, faculty and staff have organized student work that is remaining behind so that it is preserved. Online counseling services are available and for anyone out of the area made accessible through Zoom Health, which has already begun to serve many of our students. Please reach out to [Counseling and Psychological Services] for further information.

We are paying all student labor for the duration of the semester, even those students unable to work on campus. To put this in perspective, this decision allows support for 754 spring-semester student workers and an additional financial output of $682,000. We recognize that many of you rely on these funds. We also know that some of you work in non-campus jobs, which may be suspended. Any student in the area who is experiencing food insecurity or other financial hardship related to this epidemic, please let us know and we will guide you to RISD resources to help you. You can start by emailing studaffairs@risd.edu.

We’re also continuing to pay all faculty and all staff their base salaries through the spring semester even if work is interrupted. We value all of you as key members of our community. We have moved career service counseling online and begun to work with students for potential online internships. CE courses that could not move online are issuing vouchers to be used at another time.

The resulting impact of this crisis will be felt for years. But importantly, our decisions have been informed by balancing the needs of our whole community along with our civic duty to slow the spread of illness. These realities have directed the outcomes. An incredible expert team is working around the clock to navigate the ever-increasing restrictions and demands. The entire team, including Academic Affairs, museum leadership, Student Affairs, Facilities, IT, Dining and Housing, Human Resources, Health and Counseling, Marketing and Communications, Risk Management and Public Safety, along with many other staff are all working together to be both prepared and proactive. I am continually impressed by how their decisions are guided by both expertise and compassion.

But now we need everyone’s constructive actions. This is a call to all of us to be a part of the solution. None of this is easy. The situation is changing rapidly. Several weeks ago we made the very difficult but critical decision to bring home all of our students and non-Italian faculty from our program in Rome. Days later the infection rate in Italy skyrocketed and soon thereafter the US implemented a travel ban from Italy.

We also expedited travel paperwork for the departure of students to India days before India imposed a ban on flights from the US. With a small but committed staff we are out ahead protecting our students. Our hearts go out to those families of students and alumni in Italy, China, South Korea and other countries that have already endured such devastating hardship and loss. We’re here to support you and you should not hesitate to reach out for help. Every nation around the globe is undergoing or has undergone restrictions on public gatherings and travel. These new protocols are intended to slow down this global pandemic now diagnosed in every state in the US.

As a RISD graduate myself, I deeply feel the importance of studio-based learning and the importance of camaraderie and connectedness. The challenge before us is to redefine an experience in the ways that we can, to design for ourselves and our community a means of achieving a substantive experience while surviving the coronavirus. It will be different. We can feel frustrated and give up. But today and tomorrow and in the days that follow I ask you all to rise to this challenge. Help us create a fundamental and meaningful RISD experience.

Do not expect this to be easy. Do not expect it to be the same. But do expect it to succeed. Let us take a moment to appreciate and celebrate the creativity and social commitment so ingrained in our student and faculty populations intent on participating in this transformational moment. We must rethink how we learn, how we build community, how we critique, how we celebrate successes and how we help each other to persist and heal.

We are working department by department to understand the individual needs of our students and to make dedicated learning plans for each different discipline. We can achieve that which a RISD education is best known for: inventiveness, dedication, intelligence and nimbleness. Many of you, students, parents and alumni alike, have questioned how we will achieve a studio learning experience remotely. Having taught in a studio setting for more than four decades, one that relied heavily on shops and tools, I well understand your concern. Yet we know that we cannot safely return to the physical RISD studios while the virus is still rampant.

While the particulars of the design of RISD remote education are finalizing, it is a point of pride that a RISD education prepares us to navigate the unknown. Who better to respond to this call than RISD? From personal experience as a longtime faculty member and maker, I know how daunting this seems. But I also know that when you approach your work without looking at what you cannot do, but rather what you can utilize or invent to get to your intended outcomes, you will discover new depths of creative learning that may transform your practice.

I am reminded of the words of former first lady Michelle Obama when she said, “You never view your challenges as a disadvantage. Instead it’s important for you to understand that your experience facing and overcoming adversity is actually one of your biggest advantages.”

You will hear shortly from our provost about some of the inventive ways that students and faculty are responding. Our faculty have boldly stepped up to help each student to achieve RISD learning outcomes in imaginative and important ways. I am so impressed but not at all surprised by how our extraordinary faculty have risen to this challenge, reimagining their classes in an entirely different environment.

I also recognize that our leadership team and staff have been working long hours, even days a week for the benefit of our students foremost but for all of us. And they have been thoughtful, aligned and selfless. Our staff across every part of this institution are the most dedicated group of individuals anywhere and they have fully risen to this occasion. I want to express my profound appreciation for how so many of you have pitched in to make sure we come through this together in a way that will make us all proud when we look back at this time.

Some of you may wish to give up. But for those who are with us, who are determined to work collectively to achieve an art and design education that succeeds in a time of crisis, I do hope that you will find this to be an invaluable endeavor. We are often defined as a group by the trials that we overcome. We will look back on this as the RISD class that prevailed in the face of the greatest adversity. What we need now most of all is unity. And to find a way to emerge from this global crisis triumphant and stronger. I am confident that in the spirit of RISD our actions will ultimately resonate with evidence of our creative and resilient core.

I want to make one last important point. This is hard. It is hard on all of us in different ways. Let us please look to each other with compassion and empathy. Let us be dignified and caring through this process. I am sorry to have to say this—ever—that there have been a few nasty, hurtful and racist comments as well as actual threats of violence toward members of our community and administration. They are completely unacceptable and must not and will not be tolerated. But overwhelmingly we see the RISD community pulling together with mutual support and kind acknowledgment from students and families from parts of the world that have already experienced more advanced stages of this pandemic and from others who recognize just how complex these circumstances are, who understand the larger picture. Moments like these are the times when we consciously define just who we are both as individuals and as a vibrant community of makers and scholars. Let us all commit to working as a community that defines this moment by our values and strengths and by demonstrating that we are all here to help one another as good global citizens to come out the other side of this pandemic with distinction, with pride and with humanity.

With that I will turn this over to our Provost Kent Kleinman, our Vice President of Enrollment and Student Affairs Jamie O’Hara, Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Barbara LoMonaco and Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration Dave Proulx. Together they will address the many questions we have received. Thank you.

TEACHING & LEARNING
Provost Kent Kleinman

Good afternoon and thank you, Rosanne. Let me start with a proviso which I have been repeating a lot lately. The comments I am making are predicated on what we know today, and what we know today is that tomorrow will likely bring change.

So please bear with us. We are doing what we can with the knowledge that we have. The comments that I make are likely to be modified as conditions change and I want you to bear that in mind.

We received a lot of questions for the academic side of the house and I took certain liberties. I hope you will give them to me. You will hear your voice, I think, in what I have to say; you may not see or hear your precise words.

I’ve taken literally hundreds of questions and grouped them into three clusters that I think will address many of your concerns, maybe not all of them.

The first of the three clusters probably won’t surprise you is related to the conceptual challenges of RISD at a distance—Rosanne alluded to that—many questions on that topic.

[The] second cluster is how are we supporting faculty and students who will be delivering this remote teaching and learning.

And the third cluster of questions pertains to the planning around certain key events and programs that all of you rely on for your careers after the completion of coursework.

Let me start with the first cluster of questions. So this is a hypothetical question, not precisely what was written, but I think it captures your spirit.

Question: How can a RISD education be delivered at a remove when many of our pedagogies are rooted in a physical engagement with material?

I like this question a lot because it makes me think that your attention is not focused on technologies and it’s not focused on logistics and it’s not focused on the mechanics of grading and other quotidian matters. You’re really asking a question of this institution that is conceptual, philosophical and deep. And I ask myself the same question as well. It is a question that I think gets at the heart of how we inquire about the human condition and how we produce work that lets humanity see itself through a different lens.

It also asks questions of: What does physical engagement mean? Where are the limits of the body? What does it mean to have a hybrid condition where the body is extending itself into space?

So it’s a very difficult question to answer and I won’t pretend that I can answer it fully now. I think we can say, however (and it’s a familiar RISD adage) that we will know the answer to the question in the doing.

Some things that I can say about it, however. I think that it involves a complete different understanding of the bodily and creative engagement. We will be working at a remove but we still can extend ourselves creatively and through digital technologies into the making process in ways that we haven’t fully explored.

I think it also forces us to put our creative work into relationships that are social, cultural and socioeconomic in ways that we haven’t previously. And I know from speaking to faculty and some of the students that this compelling moment will recontextualize assignments, will force us to think differently about the relationship of our work to peoples’ realities and shift the attention into the moment in a way we may not have done had this crisis not been upon us.

I think this will also force us to ask deep questions, complicated questions, maybe troubling questions of the human–nature interface. Just what is that interface? Is it truly a boundary condition or are we in fact one, as RISD has, I think has long recognized? And what does that mean for our work? What does it mean to work in a situation where the body and its environment are now so inextricably intertwined?

And the last thing it brings to mind is the notion of a call to action. There is a role for designers and artists and scholars to play that is uniquely theirs and I think there are narratives and stories to be told and I know that the faculty and students are already on to those narratives. So I think we have a special call to action: society is looking to you, to us, to elevate these narratives, to be sensitive to the inequities that are being exposed by this crisis, and to make works that have that as their central topic.

So that’s the best answer I can give. It’s not a satisfying answer but I do know that the spirit of RISD will engage this fundamental question in novel and interesting ways.

Let me move on to the second cluster of questions. Question: What kinds of support is RISD offering to enable remote learning and to compensate for the loss of shops and studios?

Let me start this answer with the obvious: We are not able nor are we willing to try to replicate the campus. The campus is unique in its assets and its resources. It is not replicable in any realistic way, nor is that our project. I think all of us are embracing the conceptual turn that I just talked about.

We have done some things to leave our options open since the immediate future is unpredictable. We have protected all works that were left behind. We encouraged students to simply label their work and let us know that they want it protected so together with the faculty and staff we are confident that we have the work that needs to be protected identified and we are going to protect it.

This allows the option that some of you have asked about—about future access to shops and studios, perhaps even in the summer should conditions allow. We are working with preparators from the museum and folks from RISD Exhibitions to handle these works with the care that you would demand and expect. Please rest assured that if you left an incomplete work behind, we will take care of it for you.

We are prioritizing students who are graduating and those seniors and graduate students who are in their last semester have probably already met in one-to-one meetings with their graduate program directors and faculty. We have tried to understand your immediate needs and projects and in many cases we have been able to give you specialized equipment from our RISD resources so that you can complete the work remotely. This applies particularly to the Fine Arts division. Our goal was to keep you on track.

My commitment to you is that if you are in a graduating class, you will graduate and complete your work and have a commencement that you are proud of. We’re ensuring the virtual capacity of the campus as Rosanne mentioned. We’ve identified a number of students, hopefully all of the students, who did not have laptops or connectivity and we’ve been able to get loaners into their hands so that they’re able to work remotely. We strengthened our capacity through multiple training sessions, we’re buying additional licenses for software that you need to do your work. Some of it’s familiar, some of it’s more exotic. We’re doing that as I speak.

Multiple group counseling sessions have been conducted to help faculty come up to speed on what remote teaching might be. We’ve identified four options to get resources into the hands of the students, wherever they may be. I’ll list them. The first one is e-cards, essentially credit lines at specified vendors. Individual students (if their department thinks this is the right way to go) will have credit lines extended to them with a hard cap at vendors where they can get supplies to complete their work.

Rosanne mentioned kits. Some very enterprising faculty have put together specialized equipment and materials that the RISD store has offered to put together and mail out to students in those classes who need those materials to execute the work remotely. There’s a Jewelry + Metalsmithing class in wearable technology that has put together a kit of LEDs and conductive thread and other materials. There’s a Landscape Architecture program that is sending out Arduino boards. And there’s an extraordinary project in FAV to build animation stands out of cardboard boxes remotely. I mention these examples to give you a flavor of the kind of work that’s going on.

The third option for getting resources to students: external service providers. We will be setting up accounts with specific external service providers. This will help students produce their work remotely, output it and have the output sent to their faculty.

And lastly, internal campus-based makers, techs and faculty, if we are able have agreed to use the campus as a kind of in-house service provider. Students can send work to us, we can fabricate it, output it for them, crit it remotely or send it back. Ceramics for example is offering to do this. Work can be sent here to be fired and returned. I hope this gives you a sense of the options we’re exploring and have in place.

Two more items: the library has offered all of their services, the Nature Lab, as well as Co-Works are available for consulting remotely. And a new group was set up under RISD Research to provide quick response to faculty who need one-on-one coaching or any kind of support. We have an enormous amount of expertise at RISD among the faculty. They have formed a rapid response team and are helping other faculty. And lastly, the third cluster of questions.

Question: What is planned for the essential capstone events such as thesis and year-end shows, the graduate show and Commencement?

We are all acutely aware that these are not just social events; these are fundamental educational and career-building events. We are dedicated to making them happen. We are going to make them happen in a RISD way. So I am speaking a little bit for myself here. But an online gallery is not an adequate solution to these questions. There’s a meeting next week with select graduating students from the graduate cohorts and the seniors. Museum Director John Smith will attend as well as RISD Campus Exhibitions staff, and we’re going to start to devise alternatives for what it would mean to have a graduate show under these conditions. This might well extend into the fall semester, maybe even the winter semester. We will give you an update on our deliberations on April 1.

I also want to add that RISD Careers is an essential part of a RISD education. Those of you who know Kevin Jankowski won’t be surprised that he has already transitioned much of his work to the web. The programming is now offered as webinars, core career modules are being developed and posted. He’s exploring with various employers who are offering off-site internships, and Fulbright and other scholarship support is being offered via online advising sessions. So RISD Careers is alive and well.

That’s a brief summary of what’s going on on the academic side of the house. Please feel free to contact me with any additional questions. With that I’d like to turn the podium over to Jamie O’Hara.

REFUNDS, STUDENT EMPLOYMENT & HEALTH INSURANCE
Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs James O’Hara

Thanks, Kent. Good afternoon, everyone. I’m going to answer some of the questions that we have received regarding housing and dining refunds, campus employment and student health insurance.

Let me start with the dining and housing refund. The question that we’ve received most frequently is: Will RISD reimburse students for housing and meal plan costs or will students receive a credit towards next semester’s expenses?

Students who were living on campus and have left will receive a credit for their room and board charges. Room will be prorated based upon your move-out date or will be prorated at 50% regardless of meal or dining points used.

How will this housing and dining refund be transmitted to students? Student Financial Services will apply credits for room and board directly to student accounts by March 30. An email will then be sent to all students whose accounts have a credit balance. That email will include the refund request form. Once a student completes this and returns it to us they can anticipate refunds within three weeks.

Many parents have asked: What happens if I’m paying through the tuition management system? Do we continue with these payments?

Students and families should continue to pay their planned payment amount according to the original budget and agreement. Once the adjustment is made for room and board, the payment plan for May will most likely decrease.

I’m going to move on now to questions about campus employment. Will students who have jobs that support distance education be paid? What about students who lost their jobs because of campus closures?

I will tell you that both groups of students will be paid. As Rosanne mentioned, 700-plus workers who were employed during the first month of the spring semester will continue to get paid. Details of how you need to record your hours for the past two weeks were sent by email to you and your managers yesterday. Included in this information were directions of how you will get paid for the remaining weeks of the semester.

If you are working as an online tutor or TA, after spring break you will enter your time into Workday coinciding with your actual shifts. You will do this throughout the spring term. Students should continue to submit their time cards weekly and supervisors will still approve them weekly.

Student employees who had jobs on campus for the spring semester and cannot work remotely will continue to be paid for jobs they can no longer work on campus. For those who can no longer work on campus, their pay will be based on the average hours that they worked between February 15–March 13, on a weekly basis. The hours will automatically be updated in Workday and you as a student are not required to enter time into the system. Students will continue to receive a biweekly paycheck based on these average hours without any need of approval by staff or by faculty.

You’ve heard this said in many different venues and in many different emails that we have sent to you, but I want to emphasize this. We strongly encourage that all student workers sign up for direct deposit in Workday. Students who do not have a direct deposit by March 27 will be assigned a pay card that will be mailed to your home address of record.

I understand that most of you received this notification—all of you should have received this notification by email last night. If you did not receive an email and if you do have questions I would ask you to email us at studentemployment@risd.edu.

I’m going to now move on to questions about health insurance. Question: Will RISD student health insurance cover the rest of the semester?

Students currently enrolled in the RISD student health insurance policy will remain on this coverage until the end of August.

Will this plan work nationwide? Yes. Students are covered through the United network, which is nation-wide and international in most countries. Students can visit universityhealthplans.com to search for providers.

You should also know that United HealthCare has waived referrals for out-of-network providers until at least April 30, 2020.

Other questions more specific about the coronavirus: In the case that we have coronavirus, will the insurance cover the cost for a hospitalization, treatment and quarantines?
Hospitalization and treatment for coronavirus would be covered like any other standard medical treatment that you receive under the student health insurance coverage.

Will RISD support students financially to be tested for COVID 19?
Again, if you are covered under the RISD student health insurance policy, diagnostic testing for COVID 19 will be covered at approved locations, in accordance with the CDC.

We have several other questions regarding Student Affairs and I’m going to ask Barbara LoMonaco to come to the podium to answer those questions from other areas.

HEALTH SERVICES, RESIDENTIAL LIFE, COUNSELING
Interim Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Barbara LoMonaco

Thank you, Jamie, and good afternoon. I’m going to address some questions across three areas. Those are: health services, residential life on campus and counseling services. I want to thank those departments and all of the Student Affairs departments that are very committed to continuing to support and engage our students on and off campus.

Regarding Health Services: Health Services does remain open daily on campus from 8:30 am–4:30 pm. Students are asked to call and speak to a nurse before coming in. We are also using Zoom Health for any tele-health needs.

One of the questions that we had regarding Health Services is: Do we know if any RISD students were ever tested for COVID 19?
The answer is that we have not had any students who have been tested.

Regarding Residence Life, people have asked how many students are living on campus currently. The answer is 165 students who are housed on campus because they could not return to their permanent residences.

Related to that there was a question about why students who were given approval to remain on campus are going to be living in 15 West. Of the students remaining, graduate students are housed in Charles Landing and will continue to remain in that space. The rest of the students will move to 15 West because it has a number of features that make it the best choice for students. It has private apartments with their own kitchens and bathrooms, which allows students to live in singles and allows for social distancing. It has a Public Safety monitor at the front desk and readily available food service.

Regarding counseling services, students have asked if services will be available online. And I’m happy to say that Counseling and Psychological Services didn’t even miss one day of service. They converted immediately to tele-counseling using either the phone or Zoom Health.

All you need to do if you are a resident in Rhode Island or living on campus is to call the CAPS main number and a counselor will reach out to you at your specified appointment time, again by phone or by using video conference. Students will sign a waiver that will be sent to you in advance of your session.

Students living outside of Rhode Island may use Protocol for emergency services. This is our after-hours tele-counseling service. And we are exploring the use of another service called On-call International for students living outside of the US.

We do have one counselor who can see students who have a permanent address in New York and so if you fall into that category you can call the main number.

Thank you very much. I’m going to turn things over to Dave Proulx.

CAMPUS OPERATIONS, EMPLOYMENT, TUITION
Senior Vice President of Finance and Administration David Proulx

Hello everybody. First I want to take a moment to thank everybody—faculty, staff, students and others—who has helped us navigate to this point. It’s a huge task and so far I think we are navigating this as well as we can.

It will continue to take our full community to work together to keep us safe going forward and achieve our collective goal of ensuring our students can continue their studies. We have many groups on campus that are meeting on a regular basis—on a daily basis and sometimes multiple times a day, assessing the situation on hand and what’s in front of us, reviewing guidance and sharing information.

We continue to communicate on at least a daily basis to the community to update you on what’s happening and what our decisions are going forward so we can guide you in your efforts to work and learn. Please continue to review the website that we established and to check email on a daily basis so that you are kept up to date.

We have made several decisions about spring programming as you know and more to come, as Provost Kleinman mentioned. We are continuing to evaluate summer programming and many of those decisions will be made by mid April.

RISD employees, as was mentioned, including students, will be provided full-base compensation on their primary position for the spring semester regardless of the work that you are doing.

It’s important to remember that RISD is open. We continue to be operational. The work volume, tasks and locations may be different—and will be different, in many cases. Please be flexible and willing to help when asked. Managers will work with you to determine your work and how it should be accomplished. We ask that employees who do not need to be on campus do not come to campus.

RISD will feel a significant financial impact as a result of this, as all higher ed institutions will. Currently ours is estimated to be over 10 million dollars at this point. I’m confident that through our strong financial position and resourcefulness, that we will be able to manage through this without significant long-term disruption.

I’ve received several questions about what is open on campus during this time. Currently, Mail Services, the RISD stores and dining remain open with limited hours, which can be found on their websites. Because this is an evolving situation and circumstances are changing, this is subject to change so please keep updated and check websites.

We have received several questions regarding tuition refunds for the remainder of the semester. Regarding tuition, we recognize that remote learning will be significantly different than on-campus learning. We are working hard to ensure that the experience is a good one and credits will be issued upon successful completion of the semester. Tuition will not be refunded.

We have had several questions from employees. For parking, if you do need to come to campus—again, we want most people not coming to campus—but if you do need to come to campus and do not have a parking pass, please check with Public Safety and they can issue a temporary parking pass. Current passholders will not be charged for parking fees for the month of April at least. We will continue to assess that depending on the duration of the situation.

In terms of reporting to campus, again for the foreseeable future only staff who are designated by their manager to be on campus, should be on campus. We ask that you do not come to work if you are exhibiting any symptoms.

Buildings are open to faculty and staff at this time, so if you do need to come into the office to check mail and gather belongings you may do so.

Sick employees or employees with family circumstances that require you to stay home: RISD has established a 10-day special leave pool for staff who are sick, that may have symptoms or may have been exposed to others who are sick, or who need to care for a family member. Please call the Human Resources office and look at the HR COVID 19 resources for employees page for information on how to access that fund.

Please continue to communicate with your manager on a daily basis regarding work and current situations. We continue to evaluate the needs of our employees and recognize that you’re balancing that work with your personal obligations. We’ll provide regular updates to you as circumstances change.

CLOSING REMARKS
President Somerson

Thank you Dave, Barbara, Jamie, Kent, and thank all of you who joined us. We’ve been forthcoming today about the difficult realities that we face together and how we are responding. I hope that we have helped to inform you, perhaps to reassure you and certainly to answer most of your questions.

Some of the other answers will rely on decisions that we’ll make based on closely monitoring external circumstances that are changing rapidly. We will continue to communicate with you and to update daily the FAQs section on our Health and Wellness site.

Now I ask you all to commit to getting through this pandemic together with all the support and inventiveness that RISD is known for and to understand and trust that we are doing all that is possible.

Thank you for attending today and most of all, please stay well.

* Find daily updates about the impact of COVID-19 locally from the Rhode Island Department of Health.