Providence College Moves to Remote Learning After 80 Students Test Positive for COVID

The school also issued a stay-at-home order and said it will be closely monitoring off-campus housing for violations

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Providence College has issued a stay-at-home order and moved to remote learning after over 80 students tested positive for the coronavirus, the school announced Thursday night.

College President Rev. Kenneth Sicard said in an email to students and faculty that the school is issuing a stay-at-home order for all students and all students living on campus will be tested. The shift to 100% remote learning will continue at least through Sept. 26.

The state Department of Health said approximately 120 cases have been identified in the last three days and urged anyone who lives near the school to monitor themselves for symptoms. They did not say how many of the cases are students.

Providence College officials said on-campus students are not allowed to leave campus, and off-campus students may not leave their apartments. All indoor and outdoor gatherings are banned and travel to bars, restaurants or neighborhood businesses are not allowed.

"Violations will result in immediate interim suspensions," Sicard said. He added that college staff, Providence police and private security will be monitoring houses in off-campus neighborhoods.

All students living off-campus who have tested positive are being asked to return home if they can. Otherwise, they will be relocated to space provided by the college.

With students heading back to college, some health experts are recommending that should an outbreak of COVID-19 occur on campus, students should just stay there and not return home.

"We recognize how serious and difficult these directives are, but this is our last chance to remain together in person for the fall semester," Sicard said. "Between these actions and the serious steps we already have taken – especially in the past few days – we have used virtually every tool at our disposal. We are out of options.  If we are not successful, we will have no alternative other than to shut down our campus for the remainder of the fall semester. This also will likely affect our ability to reopen for the spring semester."

He said the steps Providence College is taking have worked at other colleges and universities, but it will take commitment and discipline on the part of the entire college community.

"I have confidence that we can summon the collective will to regain our footing, and I pray that each of you will join me in doing all we can to get back to the point where we can resume communal campus life," Sicard said.

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