RWU extends spring break, switches to online classes due to COVID-19


BRISTOL, R.I. (WPRI) — Roger Williams University administrators announced Tuesday night they will extend spring break for a second week and switch to online classes for “as long as necessary” due to the coronavirus outbreak, making the most aggressive moves yet among local colleges.

“With the health and well-being of our campus community as our top priority, and in alignment with guidance from the Rhode Island Department of Health to initiate aggressive containment measures, Roger Williams University is enacting plans to transition to online and alternate modes of instruction for as long as necessary this semester,” school leaders wrote in an email just after 10 p.m.

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The email said RWU students — who are currently on spring break — cannot return to campus, and they will remain on break for a second week while alternative plans are formalized. Residence halls and dining halls will stay closed, but faculty and staff “will continue operations as usual.”

RWU has no known cases of COVID-19 connected to the campus, they said, but “we are taking these steps to limit exposure to the virus among our community, their families, and our neighbors.” Further information will be posted at

Bryant University announced earlier it will move to online-only classes from next Tuesday through March 27. Unlike RWU, Bryant says it plans to keep dorms and residence halls open.

A number of Massachusetts schools have made similar decisions, including Harvard University and MIT. Other local institutions including Brown University and the University of Rhode Island had not followed suit as of Tuesday evening.

Rhode Island had five positive cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon after two more tests returned presumptive positive results. Massachusetts’ count rose to 92 on Tuesday, with the majority tied to a recent Biogen employee meeting. Govs. Gina Raimondo and Charlie Baker have both declared a state of emergency over the outbreak.

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