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RIC officer has COVID-19 after responding to ill student; 8 others quarantined

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island College police officer has tested positive for the coronavirus after responding to a dormitory resident who had COVID-19, and a number of college employees claim that details about the student’s illness were not available to them.

A log forwarded to Target 12 states the student in the room had a “quarantine start” date of Nov. 5 and no “quarantine end” date. One officer who asked not to be identified said “if the student had COVID, it should say that.”

“Quarantine could mean [the student] had been in Texas or Florida,” the officer added.

Another college employee said the log had the incorrect name of the student who needed help, adding to the confusion.

The name and condition of the officer who contracted the virus have not been released.

RIC spokesman John Taraborelli said, “at no point did a campus police officer come into contact with an active covid-19 case on campus.”

“This has been confirmed by the Department of Health,” Taraborelli said.

Taraborelli has not answered a question about the claim officers were not properly notified.

Anthony Peters, the president of Local 2878 of RI Council 94, which represents about 175 RIC employees, offered a stark contrast to Taraborelli’s statement.

“They, as in the officer and the student, were face to face,” Peters said.

Peters said eight campus police officers who came into contact with their infected colleague have been asked to quarantine.

But Peters said since they are considered essential workers in the 14-officer department, the college told them to quarantine while at work.

“We don’t agree with that,” Peters said. “We’re meeting with the college about that. How can you quarantine and work?”

Peters said he is filing a grievance over the issue.

“I don’t think it’s fair at all,” Peters said. “Four days down the line they may be positive and spread it. It doesn’t make any sense.”

The new grievance will be the sixth one filed by the union over COVID-19 issues, with three of them settled according to Peters.

The first dispute sufaced in March, when housekeeping staff and police officers claimed they were not notified about another dorm resident who had the virus.

At the time, RIC President Frank Sanchez told the college community in an email, “protocols from RIDOH” were followed.

The Department of Health has not yet responded to a request for comment on how state protocol might apply to this dispute.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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