KINGSTON, R.I. – The University of Rhode Island has taken the unprecedented step of canceling face-to-face graduate and undergraduate classes at all of its campuses and initiating a remote learning program, at least through April 3.
The move came last week in response to the arrival of COVID-19, or coronavirus, in Rhode Island and neighboring states.
“The University of Rhode Island’s cornerstone values seek to create and maintain an environment conducive to personal health and wellness,” the school said in a statement. “With the continued spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) we have an imperative to take actions that slow the spread of this virus and protect those most vulnerable in our communities. This is a difficult and extraordinary situation, and we recognize that people throughout our community are concerned for their personal health and that of their families and friends.”
All administrative and faculty offices remain open, but the school had been on spring break between March 9-13 before initiating the cancellation of in-person classes.
All face-to-face undergraduate and graduate classes on all campuses were canceled this week, and will be delivered remotely starting March 23 and at least through April 3. Online classes will continue as scheduled.
Individual faculty were expected to be in contact this week with their students to review plans for remote instruction, URI said.
URI student Mary Lind lives in Lincoln, and will be adjusting to taking her journalism classes online.
“I’ve heard from all of my professors so far who are basically saying ‘hang tight, we’ll get through this together and I’ll have more info for you later in the week,’” Lind said. “I personally have the ability to work remotely from home because I have a computer and internet access but for others who may not it’ll be more difficult. I’ve talked to a lot of people in the university over the last week and there are laptops available for students to rent if they need them and the campus is still open if people need to stay there.”
Still, concerns remain, Lind said.
“I’m a bit worried about how some of my journalism classes will work (multimedia classes) and one of my writing classes, which is supposed to involve a lot of peer tutoring and interacting with and observing other writers, but I have faith in my professors to be able to figure things out,” Lind said.
Classes aren’t the only aspect of campus life affected by the new conditions.
Also, as of March 13, all URI events with 100 or more in-person participants are canceled or postponed through April 3, including those organized by outside community partners hosted on a URI campus. However, that restriction was made last week before Gov. Gina Raimondo directed Rhode Islanders not to host gatherings of 25 or more people.
“We do not undertake any of these changes without careful consideration of the hardships and inconvenience that they may impose,” URI said. “Thank you for your patience and your understanding, as we navigate this challenging situation.”