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Frequently Asked Questions – Fall 2021

VACCINATION

Providence College requires that all students, faculty members, and all staff members be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The College granted some exemptions on religious or medical grounds through a process conducted during the summer and early part of the fall. As of Dec. 1, 96% of members of the Providence College community have documented full vaccination.

The College recommends booster shots for those fully vaccinated community members who are eligible.

How does PC define “fully vaccinated?”

A fully vaccinated person is one who is 14 days past receiving the final dose of a vaccine approved/authorized by the CDC (Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson) or authorized by the WHO. A member of the PC community is not recognized as being fully vaccinated until they have provided documentation.

How does one document vaccination?

Members of the community are asked to upload documentation, in the form of an image depicting their CDC vaccination card, to the College’s secure database after receiving the final dose of an approved/authorized vaccine protocol.

What are the ramifications for non-exempt students who do not provide vaccination documentation?

Those students will be removed from their classes and – as applicable – on-campus housing assignments.

What is the faculty/staff vaccination requirement?

As announced by Father Sicard on Aug. 12, PC requires full COVID-19 vaccination of all faculty and staff members. The College has granted some exemptions on religious or medical grounds.

UNVACCINATED PEOPLE

What groups comprise PC’s unvaccinated population?

Everyone in the PC community is vaccinated except the small number of students, faculty members, and staff members granted medical or religious exemptions. As of Dec. 1, 96% of members of the Providence College community have documented full vaccination.

What is required of unvaccinated (vaccine-exempt) students?

Full-time vaccine-exempt students are required to be tested twice weekly for COVID-19, at the on-campus facility. The requirement for part-time vaccine-exempt students is one weekly test. Those students will isolate or quarantine at home, should they become infected with COVID-19 or be identified as a close contact, with certain limited exceptions. They will also continue to be required to wear masks indoors at all times, even if that blanket requirement is lifted. Vaccine-exempt students agreed to these stipulations as part of the process of applying for an exemption.

What is required of unvaccinated faculty and staff members?

Vaccine-exempt personnel are required to be tested once weekly at the College’s Asymptomatic Testing Center. They will continue to be required to wear masks indoors at all times (including while in the classroom/teaching), even if that blanket requirement is lifted. Those faculty and staff members agreed to this stipulation when applying for an exemption.

MASKS

What is PC’s mask policy?

As Father Sicard announced on Aug. 12, all persons inside campus buildings are required to wear masks. This requirement applies to all campus visitors. Students in their own residence hall rooms and faculty/staff members working alone in offices are allowed to remove their masks, as are fully vaccinated faculty members while they are teaching.

To be in compliance, a person must be wearing a mask that covers both the mouth and nose. More information about the proper way to wear a mask is on the CDC website.

CAMPUS VISITORS

Are visitors required to be vaccinated or tested?

PC requires all persons attending indoor events (including presenters and entertainers) to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours. Event sponsors will check for verification of vaccination or a negative test at entry.

What mask guidelines apply to campus visitors?

Visitors are required to wear masks at all times inside campus buildings except when eating/drinking. Event presenters and entertainers may remove masks if there is sufficient physical distancing (at least 3’ from other panelists, performers, and audience members).

Those attending ice hockey games at Schneider Arena are required to wear a mask at all times while inside that facility.

Are there any restrictions on residence hall visitation?

Non-PC guests (i..e. persons not actively assigned to live in the on-campus residence halls) are not allowed in PC residence halls. On-campus residents are permitted to visit other residence halls. This policy may be revisited later if conditions improve.

ISOLATION AND QUARANTINE

What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?

Isolation is for people who are infected with the coronavirus. Quarantine is for those identified as close contacts of an infected person through contact tracing.

Will PC provide isolation and quarantine space for students?

The College will provide supervised isolation space at an off-campus hotel for vaccinated students who require it. Vaccine-exempt (unvaccinated) students will return home to isolate or quarantine, with certain limited exceptions.

What services will be provided at the off-campus site?

Students in isolation or quarantine will have 24-hour access to on-site College personnel, and PC will provide meals, transportation, and other necessary services. Unlike the 2020-2021 academic year, students may not have remote access to classes while in isolation or quarantine.

CLOSE CONTACT

What should I do if I am identified as a close contact of a person with COVID-19?

Note: this section is updated based on a Sept. 2 executive order from Gov. McKee.

A contact tracing specialist (either from the College or the state health department) will be in touch if you have been identified as a close contact. You are not expected to take any specific action unless you hear from a contact tracing specialist.

Fully vaccinated close contacts are required to be tested 3-5 days after last exposure to the person who tested positive. Fully vaccinated close contacts must also wear masks in all indoor settings for 14 days or until they get a negative test result.

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated close contacts are required to be tested immediately and begin quarantine. A second test on Day 5-7 is required. A person in this situation may stop quarantine after seven days if that second test is negative.

Any person who has tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days should not be tested and does not need to self-quarantine.

The contact tracing specialist will discuss test scheduling and advise on locations/availability during their initial discussion with a person identified as a close contact.

Any person identified as a close contact should self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days and contact the Student Health Center (students) or primary care provider (faculty/staff) if they develop symptoms.

Testing is readily available from state-run site or certain retail facilities, for those who may wish to access it on their own.

VACCINE-EXEMPT STUDENTS

How many students are exempt and how did they qualify?

Approximately 3% of PC’s students qualified for an exemption by way of a process conducted during the summer of 2021. Exemptions were granted on medical or religious grounds, according to specific and consistent criteria.

What restrictions apply to vaccine-exempt students?

In applying for exemptions, these students agreed to wear masks inside all campus buildings and to participate in mandatory twice-weekly COVID-19 testing. Additionally, they will isolate or quarantine at home, if necessary, with certain limited exceptions.

Vaccine-exempt students were required to present proof of a negative point-of-origin PCR test within five days (preferably within 72 hours) of their arrival for the fall semester. They were also required to upload a negative test result from a self-administered rapid test (provided by the College), before retuning to campus after Thanksgiving break.

Are there specific housing accommodations/requirements for vaccine-exempt students?

Vaccine-exempt first-year students have been assigned to rooms together, with limited exceptions. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors were assigned to spaces with the roommates they requested during last spring’s room selection process.

TESTING

Persons experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should never report to the College’s Asymptomatic Testing Center. A person who tested positive for COVID-19 should not be tested until 90 days have passed since that positive test.

Symptomatic students should call the Student Health Center at 401.865.2422 to make arrangements for testing in a clinical setting. On weekdays after 4:30 p.m. and on weekends, students should call Public Safety at 401.865.2391.

Symptomatic faculty and staff members should contact their healthcare provider or access a state-run COVID-19 testing site.

Where is the Asymptomatic Testing Center located?

It is in the former Mural Lounge/former mailroom space in Raymond Hall, down one flight of exterior stairs on the Joseph/Accinno side of Raymond.

What are the hours?

From 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays and 7:30 a.m. – 12 noon Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Access is limited.

Which students are required to report for testing?

Full-time students who have been exempted from the College’s vaccine requirement AND partially vaccinated students are required to report for testing twice weekly (both Mondays and Thursdays). The requirement for part-time students is once-weekly testing. Failure to comply is a violation of the Student Code of Conduct.

Is testing available for asymptomatic students?

A symptomatic students who wish to be tested, such as 1) those who are concerned about upcoming exposure to vulnerable family members or others or 2) those who have not been verified as close contacts of a symptomatic person but are concerned about having been exposed to a someone with COVID-19, may access testing once per week. More information about testing availability is available here.

Which faculty and staff members are required to report for testing?

Vaccine-exempt employees and employees who have not uploaded vaccine documentation to the College’s secure database are required to report for a test once weekly (Mondays or Thursdays).

What does “partially vaccinated” mean?

This refers to a person who is in one of these categories:

  • Waiting for a scheduled second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine protocol
  • Less than 14 days after the final dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson or WHO-authorized vaccine protocols

Once a student, faculty member, or staff member is 14 days past that final dose, that person is fully vaccinated and should no longer be tested. 

Does PC provide any testing for vaccinated people?

Testing is not currently available on campus for vaccinated people, with these exceptions:

  • Fieldwork students, i.e., those involved in in-person student teaching or similar required field placements, are allowed to access testing once per week.
  • Vaccinated students and employees identified as close contacts through the College’s contact tracing system will be tested at the on-campus facility 3-5 days after their last exposure to an infected person. You will be notified if you have been identified as a close contact.
  • Testing will be available once weekly for vaccinated faculty and staff members who wish to access voluntary testing because of family or other concerns. There will not be any designated faculty/staff testing times. Note: the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated people with no COVID-19-like symptoms and no known exposure should be exempted from testing programs if feasible. 

CLASSROOMS

Providence College is unequivocally committed to providing an in-person classroom and laboratory experience for its students. In acknowledgement of the persistent challenges that faculty members and students face, Provost Reid provided a Friday, Aug. 20 email to the faculty providing context, outlining expectations, and addressing specific questions. That message forms the basis of this FAQ page, which will be updated as new questions arise and/or conditions change.

What are the policy foundations for these guidelines?

Section 4.2.2 E of the Faculty Handbook states the following: A faculty member who by reason of illness or because of an emergency cannot meet his/her classes should, if possible, immediately inform the chair of his/her department or the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies. In such cases it shall be the responsibility of the department chair to arrange for a substitute, or in situations where this is not immediately possible, to inform the students concerned. If for any reason the chair should not be available, this responsibility shall be assumed by the Office of Academic Affairs

If I am sick with COVID symptoms and test positive, do I teach remotely or cancel class? 

Faculty may teach remotely if they are feeling up to it (and they should notify the chair/director that the class will meet remotely). If illness precludes a faculty member’s ability to teach, the faculty member should notify their chair/director about cancelling class in accordance with Faculty Handbook policy 4.2.2.e.

If I am sick with COVID symptoms while awaiting test results, do I teach remotely or cancel class? 

Faculty may teach remotely if they are feeling up to it (and they should notify the chair/director that the class will meet remotely). If illness precludes a faculty member’s ability to teach, the faculty member should notify their chair/director about cancelling class in accordance with Faculty Handbook policy 4.2.2.e. Since cold and flu cases will undoubtedly increase throughout the semester, and because symptoms for those illnesses can mirror COVID symptoms, it is important for those who are unsure if they have contracted COVID to be tested as soon as possible. The potential down time for those illnesses is usually less than the mandatory COVID quarantine period. 

 If my child is symptomatic and tests positive, do I teach remotely or cancel class since they will not be in school and will need caretaking? 

We recognize that emergencies may occur and faculty can and should make family obligations their top priority. Faculty may teach remotely (and they should notify the chair/director that the class will meet remotely). At the same time, this must be a temporary measure and faculty should explore all childcare options at their disposal. Faculty should plan to return to in-person instruction as soon as it is practical to do so. The flexibility to teach remotely during a temporary childcare emergency should not be interpreted as permission to do so for an extended period.  

 If half (or more) of my class is in quarantine or absent with symptoms, do I just teach to half of the class and meet with others online later, do I teach remotely, or do I cancel class? 

Faculty should teach the class to those students who are present for in-person instruction.

If a student is absent due to quarantine, isolation, illness, or is experiencing COVID symptoms, does that mean I have to record my lectures and/or simultaneously Zoom the lesson to those students who can’t be physically present for the class? 

No. Faculty are expected to teach in-person and students are expected to be in class. The student is responsible for missed material just as they would have been responsible for missed material in past semesters. At the same time, faculty should make an effort to assist the students who may have missed class due to a circumstance beyond their control just as they would have done in past semesters. Some faculty may choose to tape or simultaneously Zoom in-person classes to support those students who may be absent, but there is no obligation to do so.  

I have a mandatory attendance policy for my class. Will I be able to assess a penalty if a student is absent due to quarantine, isolation, illness, or because they are experiencing COVID symptoms? 

No. We are asking students to be responsible members of the community and follow COVID mitigation policies. That includes observing quarantine and isolation mandates, as well as minimizing opportunities for exposure to other members of the community if they are ill or symptomatic. We cannot penalize students for following the rules and behaving responsibly. Such absences should be treated as “excused” absences.

Will the faculty know who is vaccinated and who is not in our classes? Is that legal? 

Faculty and staff notifications regarding students’ vaccination status remain an open question. There is a legal component that may allow it, but there’s also an ethical component, which may outweigh it. As it stands today, the number of unvaccinated (vaccine-exempt) students should be very low (there are approximately 100 approved exemptions at this time). In addition, the exemption agreement is explicit as to the associated masking and COVID testing requirements.

I understand the indoor mask mandate, but do we also have to maintain a certain physical distance in classrooms? 

There are no physical distance mandates at this time. If space allows, you may encourage students to spread out in the classroom, but there is no requirement to do so.

What are the guidelines relative to faculty and masks in the classroom?

As noted in Father Sicard’s announcement of the current indoor mask mandate, fully vaccinated faculty members have the option of removing their masks while teaching. At the current time, this applies only to faculty members (not students or others making presentations).

Can a faculty member require masks even if the universal mandate expires?

Yes, a faculty member may stipulate that students wear masks during class if they wish. People may choose to continue wearing masks, and faculty members should not direct students to remove them.

What are faculty responsibilities when it comes to enforcing mask requirements?

Faculty members should make clear their expectations that students comply with mask requirement, which is codified in the Student Code of Conduct. Cases of repeated non-compliance should be referred to the Office of Community Standards.

What should I do if someone tests positive in my class?

Contact tracing specialists will reach out to anyone who has been identified as a close contact, through the case investigation involving the individual who tested positive, to provide specific guidance. As always, monitor for symptoms and get tested if you develop symptoms.

What is the availability of outdoor teaching spaces?

In addition to the reservable outdoor classrooms (which are limited, with priority currently given to performance-based courses and other cases requiring accommodations), faculty members should consider other available outdoor spaces. These include spaces near the Ruane Center for the Humanities, between Moore Hall and Aquinas Hall, at the northeast corner of Harkins Hall, and any open quad spaces. 

What is the guidance relative to office hours?

Faculty members may hold in-person and/or virtual office hours and should accommodate any student who cannot attend virtual office hours.