URI to reduce on-campus living by 25%, modify fall academic calendar

UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND announced that it will reduce the number of students living on campus this fall from 6,200 to 4,400. / COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND
THE UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND announced that it will reduce the number of students living on campus this fall from 6,200 to 4,400. / COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – The University of Rhode Island announced late Thursday that it will have a modified fall semester schedule and will reduce the number of students living on campus by about 25%.

Health and well-being of those on campus were the primary factors in modifying both the class schedule and housing accommodations to continue limiting the spread of the new coronavirus, URI said.

URI will reduce its living spaces from 6,200 to around 4,400, mainly to ensure that all on-campus bedrooms in the residence halls have only one or two occupants – no triples – “based on building design and restroom capacity.”

“Most residence halls with community/shared restrooms will be assigned as one person to a room to reduce the number of students sharing bathroom space,” URI said. If the COVID-19 situation improves, these students could receive a roommate later in the year.

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URI spokesperson David Lavallee told Providence Business News on Friday that about 1,800 students will be impacted by the limited housing.

But, it is currently unclear how much of a financial impact it will be on the university not having as many students living on campus as usual. Lavallee said URI is continuing to assess those impacts on both housing and dining – reduced housing also reduces sales for meal plans.

URI said that all fall housing assignments previously completed by continuing students will be canceled.

Any student who voluntarily cancels their housing or are displaced will be refunded their $200 deposit. Students eligible for housing will be part of a reassignment process and a waitlist will be maintained throughout the fall.

The students who will be prioritized for on-campus housing are:

  • All incoming first-year students who met the June 26 and 30 deposit deadlines
  • Out-of-state, incoming transfer students
  • Out-of-state, returning URI students with a housing assignment who cannot practically commute to campus
  • Limited spaces for students with special needs and circumstances that make commuting difficult

URI said it is also exploring limited housing options for displaced students, such as a hotel, but the university is “strongly” encouraging returning students that they either commute to school or look into off-campus housing. URI is advising students seeking off-campus housing options to visit its Commuter Affairs website for assistance.

Students who URI can’t accommodate for housing will receive a $1,500 transition assistance grant for each of the fall 2020 and fall 2021 semesters if continuously enrolled, URI said, along with a 50-meal plan and free parking for the upcoming fall.

Move-in time will start around Aug. 29 and last through Labor Day weekend to allow a staggered process to limit contact with other students and their assistants, URI said.

“Know that we are fully aware of and continue to monitor carefully the dynamic nature of this virus and the transmission patterns locally, nationally and globally,” the university said. “Our plans are designed to mitigate risk of infection and require the cooperation of the entire URI community. If virus conditions were to change, we are prepared to act accordingly.”

Regarding the fall academic calendar, URI will still begin classes Sept. 9 as planned, but will end in-person classes at the Thanksgiving break, starting Nov. 25, the university said. From there, classes will be delivered online for the rest of the semester until Dec. 14 and all final exams will be done online.

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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