PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Providence College officials announced Friday that students will continue to learn remotely through next week.
The stay-at-home order issued last Friday will also remain in effect until October 3.
The school shifted to full remote learning after more than 80 students tested positive for COVID-19 in a two-day span last week. Nearly 140 additional students have tested positive since then, along with two staff members, according to PC’s COVID-19 dashboard.
“A number of people have suggested that we switch to remote learning for the rest of the semester,” PC spokesperson Steven Maurano said. “We are reassessing this option constantly, always in consultation with the Rhode Island Department of Health, and with the public health perspective foremost in our thinking.”
Data shows the college’s positivity rate has been on the decline since the outbreak began on September 16, but the virus is still spreading, Maurano said.
On Wednesday, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo urged PC students to obey the stay-at-home order and limit their social networks. She said the outbreak wasn’t traced back to one big party, but rather smaller gatherings where students were mixing with different groups, sharing food and drinks, and not wearing masks or social distancing.
“Normally, that’s OK, except not this year,” Raimondo said. “Behavior like that this year endangers other people’s lives, and it’s incredibly selfish.”
The outbreaks at PC and URI were a big reason Rhode Island was once again placed on the travel advisory lists for Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, according to Raimondo. She also asked students who are sick not to go home so they don’t spread the virus.
According to Maurano, the school is aware that the 02908 ZIP code has one of the highest incidences of COVID-19 positivity in the city.
“In addition to being a temporary home for PC students who live off-campus, this neighborhood is also the permanent home of many working families who depend on their health to earn a living,” Maurano added. “We apologize sincerely for our part in exacerbating COVID-19 positivity rates in the state, and for putting the health of residents at risk.”
PC administration said they will continue to work with Providence police and area landlords to “investigate and respond aggressively to reports of any off-campus parties or gatherings.”
Activities on campus will also continue to be significantly restricted.
“We continue to remind students and their parents of the College’s zero-tolerance policy, and that failure to comply with all mandates issued by the College and public health authorities ultimately may result in permanent separation from the College,” Maurano said.
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