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RIC police officer tested for COVID-19 after infected worker traced to station

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Another COVID-19 related complaint has been filed against Rhode Island College after the campus police station was not sanitized even though a college staff member who tested positive for COVID-19 had recently worked in the building.

RI Council 94 Local 2878 President Anthony Peters said the union has now filed several grievances with the administration over potential exposure to the virus. As of Tuesday morning, the disease had infected one RIC student, one information technology staff member and 178 Providence residents.

The staff member “had worked in the police station,” according to Peters, spurring one RIC police officer to get tested for COVID-19, which came back negative.

“And they didn’t clean it,” Peters said about the station. “They said it was an oversight, but I had to get a crew, a private company, in there to clean. It shouldn’t happen. Nobody got hurt, thank God.”

According to a campus-wide email sent last week from RIC President Frank Sanchez, the employee who tested positive last worked in their campus office Thursday, March 26, and “attempted to report to their work station” last Monday, but was sent home.

The R.I. Department of Health directed RIC to tell five college employees and six non-residential students to self-quarantine for 14 days due to their direct contact with the staff member.

The week before, a student who lived in Penfield Residence Hall tested positive and at one point came “face to face” with a housekeeper who did not know the student had been tested, Peters said.

Peters said after he filed grievances with the college, the admnistration did agree to pay two union members while they self-qarantined at home due to potential exposure. Peters filed another grievance to get paid time off for a housekeeper who cleaned the office of the staff member who tested positive.

“We just want what’s fair,” Peters said. “We don’t want this to happen again.”

RIC spokesman John Taraborelli has not responded yet to a request for comment on the latest greivance, but said last week the campus buildings were cleaned “out of an abundance of caution,” and housekeepers were given “appropriate personal protective equipment.”

In addition to the student and staff member who tested positive, one of the state’s six remote COVID-19 testing sites is on the RIC campus. Drive-thru swabbing began last week, with a goal of testing 300 people a day at the Providence school.

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

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