RWU, Bryant, RISD latest colleges to require COVID-19 booster shots

Updated at 2:50 p.m.

ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY announced late Tuesday it will require all its students and employees to get COVID-19 booster vaccinations before the start of the spring semester. / COURTESY ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY
ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY announced late Tuesday it will require all its students and employees to get COVID-19 booster vaccinations before the start of the spring semester. / COURTESY ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY

BRISTOL – Roger Williams University, Bryant University in Smithfield and the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence are the latest local colleges to mandate COVID-19 booster vaccinations for students and employees before the start of the spring semester.

RWU, Bryant and RISD join Brown University, Salve Regina University, the University of Rhode Island and Johnson & Wales University in requiring booster shots. Some other local colleges, including the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, Providence College and the New England Institute of Technology, are currently strongly recommending their respective campus communities to get boosters.

RWU Vice President for Student Life John King and Chief of Staff Brian Williams said late Tuesday in a message to the campus community that employees must submit their new proof of vaccination, complete with booster, by Feb. 1, while students must submit their proof by March 1. King and Williams noted the majority of the university’s community is now eligible for boosters, with the whole campus community being eligible by March.

RWU, though, is “strongly urging” all employees and students to get boosted “as soon as they are eligible … and ideally before returning for the spring semester.”

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Bryant President Ross Gittell said Wednesday that the university is requiring students and employees to get their booster by Jan. 24, or within 10 days of becoming eligible for a booster.

RISD said Wednesday it is requiring students to get their booster by Feb. 1, which is about two weeks before the spring semester commences, or within 14 days of becoming eligible for a booster. RISD employees, while not mandated by the arts college to be vaccinated, are required to disclose by Feb. 1 whether or not they received a booster shot, RISD said.

The booster eligibility windows for Bryant and RISD are different from other colleges, which have granted 30-day periods to get boosters after eligibility.

Those with approved exemptions at RWU, Bryant and RISD will not be required to get a booster, the respective colleges said. RWU said requests for a vaccine booster exemption will only be considered for newly enrolled students, newly hired employees or for current students or employees not granted a fall 2021 exemption but “who now may meet exemption criteria based on previously unavailable facts and circumstances.”

Students returning to campus at both RWU and RISD next semester must participate in pre-arrival and arrival clearance testing, the two colleges said. RWU will email students specifics on that on Jan. 10. RWU employees returning to work next month should participate in clearance testing on the first available date to them, King and Williams said.

RWU will hold a vaccine clinic at the start of the spring semester for those who could not get a booster during the winter break. Bryant will hold an on-campus booster clinic on Jan. 12.

RISD is also calling for staff who can work remotely to do so starting Jan. 4 during the winter session, the college said, and no indoor events will take place on campus during that time.

Also, Salve announced Wednesday that it is delaying the start of its spring semester by a week, with classes now starting Jan. 17. The university said it took this action heeding warnings about the omicron variant’s impact in the first half of next month.

Four instructional days, on Jan. 17, Feb. 21, April 14 and April 18, will be added to compensate for the delayed start, Salve said. The spring semester is still scheduled to end April 22.

(Update: ADDS throughout to include announcements from Bryant University and Rhode Island School of Design, and the final two paragraphs explaining Salve Regina University’s decision to delay the start of the spring semester.)

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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