KINGSTON, R.I. — The University of Rhode Island has contracted with three local hotels that have agreed to house URI students for the upcoming fall semester as a result of the reduction in on-campus housing because of COVID-19.
The university said in a statement Tuesday to the Independent that it is leasing or renting the entirety of two hotels and three floors of the third hotel.
A URI spokesperson declined to name which hotels are involved in the deal, citing contractual restrictions that prevent the school from doing so. Attempts to reach representatives of hotels in North Kingstown and South Kingstown were unsuccessful Tuesday.
The university said the total cost for the three hotel leases for the fall semester is about $1.64 million. The university has the option to renew for the spring semester.
“The university is grateful to the management of all three facilities for working with us to provide additional rooms for our students,” URI said in the statement.
URI will provide shuttle service from the Kingston campus. The schedule is being developed.
Students who live in the hotels will not face an additional charge for the housing or delivered meals as long as they have a meal plan and pay the rate for a single or double room, according to URI. The fall semester rate for living in a double-occupancy room is $4,702 or $4,881 for a single-occupancy room.
URI said it began talks with the local hotel operators as campus leaders formulated policies to reduce the number of students in on-campus housing.
In June, the university announced the need to reduce capacity from a planned 6,200 spaces to about 4,400 spaces for the fall. The university reduced housing capacity to ensure that all on-campus bedrooms in residence halls would have only one or two occupants based on building design and restroom capacity.
URI said its decision to reduce the density and capacity of the residence halls is consistent with prevailing health and safety recommendations during COVID-19, as well as practices at universities across the United States. All on-campus bedrooms in residence halls will have only one or two occupants based on building design and restroom capacity, and there will be no triple-resident dorm rooms.
Most residence halls with shared restrooms will be assigned as one person to a room to reduce the number of students sharing bathroom space. Those students may receive a roommate later in the year if the COVID-19 situation improves, URI said.
Rhode Islanders who were displaced from on-campus housing as a result of housing capacity reductions are expected to receive invitations to apply for spaces freed up by the temporary addition of the hotel rooms to the university’s inventory, the school said.
URI is planning on a Sept. 9 return to in-person classes for students, and to start the move-in about Aug. 29. It will continue through Sept. 5-7, Labor Day weekend, to minimize contact with other students and their move-in assistants.
In-person classes will end at the Thanksgiving break, which begins Nov. 25. Classes will continue online for the rest of the semester until Dec. 14, with final exams conducted online.
As COVID-19 began to spread in the United States, students left the campus last spring during March break and did not return, instead completing their semester through online remote learning methods. The Class of 2020 participated in an online commencement ceremony.