University of Rhode Island to welcome students back on campus with major changes

KINGSTON, R.I. (WLNE) — The University of Rhode Island is in full preparation mode to welcome students back to campus starting Saturday.

In years past, 6,000 students would move in over one weekend. This year, move-ins are limited to 500 students per day, with an extended move-in period until September 7.

About 200 students are already moved in. Those are students who came from a hotspot or a state with a positivity rate of over 5-percent.

Kathy Collins, the Vice President of Student Affairs, says while the changes are tough, they’re necessary.

“For our incoming first-year students, I’m sorry,” Collins said. “I know your senior year of high school was hard and this isn’t probably how you dreamed your campus would be, but I still want to encourage people to come to the institution and start your college experience”

All students will get tested for COVID-19 as part of the move-in process. While students wait for results, their orientation will be different, too.

“Every day we’re doing trivia nights, we’re doing movies down at Mead Stadium,” Collins said. “We’ve painted the circles like so many of you have seen at Central Park and other areas on the football stadium.”

Classes will be hybrid, but mainly in-person. Dining halls will be grab and go meals with a tent outside to eat at.

When positive cases show up, which the University expects will happen; they have a partnership with local hotels to quarantine students. They also have plans in place in the event of an outbreak.

“We’ve seen situations happen in other campuses around the country,” Collins said. “We do have a plan and we know there may be a time we have to quarantine an entire residence hall.”

The University along with the South Kingstown Police are also cracking down on off-campus parties. The police department and town officials issued a new executive order imposing a $500 fine for anyone hosting an off-campus party and a $250 fine for anyone attending.

“We have told students that if they violate the student handbook, they’re going to go home,” Collins said. “If they can’t live under these new guidelines, then don’t come.”

While URI officials realize the changes will take time for students to adjust to, they say safety comes first.

©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2020

Categories: Back to School, News, Our Schools