PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) —The president of Providence College announced that the school is moving to remote-only learning for at least two weeks after a surge of new coronavirus cases among students, saying “we are out of options.”
The private Roman Catholic university’s president, Rev. Kenneth Sicard, wrote to the school community Thursday that more than 80 students tested positive for the virus in just two days, but the state Department of Health said Friday that the number was actually 120.
School spokesperson Steven Maurano explained the discrepancy in an email Friday. The school reported just the people who had tested positive at a campus testing site, he said, but some students were tested at off-campus sites and the school was not made aware of them.
Most students who tested positive live off campus. The school has about 4,800 students.
The state Department of Health is responding to the outbreak through investigations of each case and aggressive contact tracing, the agency said in an email Friday. It is also working with the school to support students in quarantine and isolation.
The agency also suggested that residents of the neighborhood around the school and people who work at businesses frequented by Providence College students monitor themselves for symptoms and gets tested.
Students who live off campus cannot leave their apartments, and students who live on campus will be tested either Friday or Saturday and are not allowed to leave campus, Sicard said. Gatherings of any kind are banned.
Students who violate the rules face suspensions, Sicard said, and if things get worse, campus may be shut down for the semester.
“We recognize how serious and difficult these directives are, but this is our last chance to remain together in person for the fall semester,” Sicard said. “Between these actions and the serious steps we already have taken – especially in the past few days – we have used virtually every tool at our disposal. We are out of options.”
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