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HEALTH

Amid outbreak, Providence College will stick with remote instruction another week

College officials apologize for the school’s role in driving up COVID-19 rates in the state

Front gate to Providence College.
Front gate to Providence College.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — Providence College will extend its remote learning for another week, through Oct. 3, amid a coronavirus outbreak that has infected 220 students.

In a statement Friday, the college noted that some people, including state legislators, have called for the college to remain on remote instruction for the rest of the fall semester.

“We are reassessing this option constantly, always in consultation with the Rhode Island Department of Health, and with the public health perspective foremost in our thinking,” the statement from college spokesman Steven J. Maurano said.

But the college did not commit to sticking with remote instruction for the full semester.

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“In the interest of community safety and further mitigation, we are extending our period of remote learning for one additional week, through Saturday, Oct. 3,” the statement said.

Also, the school said the stay-at-home directive for students that began last Friday will remain in effect.

Providence College apologized for contributing in the rise of COVID-19 cases – an increase that caused Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey to add Rhode Island to their lists of states whose residents must quarantine if they visit those three nearby states.

The college also acknowledged that the 02908 zip code, which includes the campus, has had one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the state.

“In addition to being a temporary home for PC students who live off-campus, this neighborhood is also the permanent home of many working families who depend on their health to earn a living,” the statement said. “We apologize sincerely for our part in exacerbating COVID-19 positivity rates in the state, and for putting the health of residents at risk.”

Providence College, which has more than 4,800 students in total, on Friday reported that a total of 220 students have now tested positive for COVID-19, based on tests done both on and off campus. The college completed its most recent round of student testing on Thursday, when 705 students were tested and 15 came back positive, for a positivity rate of 2.13 percent.

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The college also has reported two positive tests among faculty and staff.

Providence College said it will continue to pay for Providence police details and work with local landlords to “investigate and respond aggressively to reports of any off-campus parties or gatherings,” and on-campus activities will continue to be restricted.

“We continue to remind students and their parents of the college’s zero tolerance policy,” the statement said, “and that failure to comply with all mandates issued by the college and public health authorities ultimately may result in permanent separation from the college.”


Edward Fitzpatrick can be reached at edward.fitzpatrick@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @FitzProv.