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Lawmakers urge Providence College President to go virtual for the rest of the semester

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Even before the return of PC students, our neighborhoods in the 02904 and 02908 zip-codes were already some of the most impacted by COVID cases and deaths across the state. Please remember, there is a reason our neighbors were initially concerned with PC’s decision to resume in-person learning.


In a letter to Providence College President Kenneth Sicard, three members of the General Assembly, Senator Sam Bell (Democrat, District 5, Providence), Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell (Democrat, District 5, Providence) and Representative-elect David Morales (Democrat, District 7, Providence) are urging that the school transition to virtual learning for the rest of the 2020 Fall Semester due to an enormous number of positive COVID-19 test results among returning students.

Here’s the letter:

Dear President Rev. Kenneth R Sicard:

We write to you urging that Providence College transition to virtual learning for the rest of the 2020 Fall Semester. As of September 22nd 2020, more than 140 positive cases of COVID have come from PC students. [That number is now 165, per reporting of the Boston Globe]

This is incredibly concerning for the entire PC community and it is also affecting our neighboring communities of Elmhurst, Mt. Pleasant, Charles, and Wanskuck. These are diverse communities with minority-owned small businesses, working families, senior citizens, children, and young adults. Unfortunately, their health is now at risk as PC students naturally shop, socialize, and engage with our communities. Even before the return of PC students, our neighborhoods in the 02904 and 02908 zip-codes were already some of the most impacted by COVID cases and deaths across the state. Please remember, there is a reason our neighbors were initially concerned with PC’s decision to resume in-person learning.


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While we understand that the university is doing everything it can to contain these cases and the spread of COVID through strict shelter-in-place policies and contracting private security, it is worrying to think that students may return to in-person learning. Instead, the safety of our neighbors, students, and staff should be prioritized.

We have already seen enough this past week and we are wishing everyone affected a quick recovery. Therefore, it is time to take action by transitioning to virtual learning immediately as resuming in-person learning will not be sustainable for the health of PC students, staff, and our neighbors. Of course, we would all want PC students to receive the full “college experience” but we are living through a global pandemic and this is the unfortunate reality. As we all know, one COVID-related death alone is already one too many.

We respectfully ask that Providence College transition to virtual learning for the rest of the 2020 Fall Semester.

Sincerely,

  • Representative-Elect David Morales, District 7 
  • Senator Sam Bell, District 5
  • Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell, District 5

Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade. atomicsteve@gmail.com