To all Bryant University students, families, faculty and staff,
It is a very busy and exciting time, as we reopen campus and welcome students back this week. In our walks around the campus, the buildings and grounds are all coming to life and ready for the fall term. In meetings and conversations with students, we hear acceptance that this will be different than a traditional autumn but also an encouraging recognition that we are in this together and determined to do everything in our control to help keep the campus safe and open.
As communicated all summer, this fall we face historic challenges resulting from the pandemic across the country and in higher education. The health and safety of the Bryant community is the highest priority in our plans to bring students back for the campus learning experience that is a Bryant hallmark. Our detailed plans to preserve the health of the Bryant community are extensive and we have made considerable investments to keep everyone safe. In addition to daily health screening, reducing density in our facilities, and requirements for mask wearing and social distance, we have begun our weekly rapid results surveillance testing and already tested nearly 1,500 members of our community for COVID-19. We have one positive case detected, with an asymptomatic individual who had just arrived on campus now isolating and expected to make a full recovery. Immediate contact tracing led to a small number of students in quarantine. Going forward, we will be sharing the weekly results of our aggressive testing protocols, with testing results reported on a seven-day moving average.
"We are in this together and determined to do everything in our control to help keep the campus safe and open."
We know that the pandemic presents serious, dynamic situations that can change overnight and we are closely monitoring the experience of institutions of higher ed that have already opened. It is clear from scientific data and the unfortunate experiences of larger schools in other regions of the country, including Notre Dame and UNC Chapel Hill, that large social gatherings held off campus are a significant risk to the institution remaining open for the residential learning experience. It is also true that risk is mitigated by avoiding unnecessary trips off campus.
Heightened mandatory testing
To address these two specific factors proactively, Bryant will utilize all of the advantages of our secure campus and single point of entry and exit. Effective with the start of classes on August 25, we will provide heightened mandatory testing for all individuals who pose an increased risk to the community. This includes students who leave campus and return at 10 p.m. or later, students who leave campus for an overnight stay, and commuters. The campus will be secured at 10 p.m. each night in order to help identify students requiring increased testing.
Our health and safety guidelines are consistent with best practices identified by the R.I. Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For the collective health of our community, all campus safety policies, including those related to large and any unprotected gatherings, will be strictly enforced. Individuals who violate campus health and safety regulations more than once will be subject to loss of residency and University suspension without reimbursement, as well as significant fines imposed by the State of Rhode Island.
"This semester we will be innovative and take advantage of every inch of our beautiful setting and open space."
To keep the Bryant community healthy and keep campus open, this week Bryant is launching #BeBryantStrong, an integrated public health campaign to promote adherence to necessary health and safety guidelines as outlined in our Student Health and Wellness Pledge and Employee Pledge. Designed to strengthen commitment to a campus culture of shared responsibility, the campaign includes a video and an interactive PDF. Please take advantage of this information, and all of the material available on the www.bryant.edu/reopening site.
Increased outdoor student programming
In addition to new safety, security and health education measures, we have also planned for new activities and events on campus and in the fresh air outdoors – such as scavenger hunts, food trucks, musical performances and outdoor movies. The increased student programming at numerous micro locations with social distancing and masking across the campus will provide respite and recreation while keeping students active, outside and spread out for social distancing. This semester we will be innovative and take advantage of every inch of our beautiful setting and open space.
We are continuing our redoubled communication efforts to reach students, families, faculty, staff and alumni with important news as our reopening progresses. Some, if not most, days there is new or changing information regarding the pandemic, but we have been able to stay on top of it and are determined to remain so. The Bryant team and spirit are very strong. This will help us through uncertain times and ensure that the fall semester will be productive and rewarding for our students despite historic challenges faced in our country and in higher education.
Bryant University President Ross Gittell
Provost Glenn Sulmasy
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Inge-Lise Ameer