July 27, 2020: COVID-19 Update
Copy of email communication sent on Monday, July 27, 2020
Dear members of the RISD Continuing Education community,
As we are exactly one week away from opening fall registration, I want to share some important news, updates and information about our community, programming and plans for the future.
First, I want to acknowledge just how much has changed in the past couple of months. From having to cancel all of our in-person summer classes to moving essentially all of our programming online, our students, instructors and staff have undergone unprecedented levels of disruption, stress and change. We have navigated these challenges together gracefully, fully harnessing all of the best attributes of RISD CE—using our innovation, hard work and creativity to make the best of this situation. We accomplished this while keeping the health, safety and well-being of our community as our top priority.
Continuing Online Classes This Fall
To date, since moving online this past spring, we have launched a total of 210+ online classes on our learning management system CE Link. We have enrolled a total of 2,100+ students, who have participated in classes ranging from Teen and Adult programs to college-credit RISD Summer Programs and our new Advanced Program for High School Students. A special thank you goes out to nearly 80 instructors who quickly and effectively pivoted to online learning, and who are now thriving in this new virtual environment. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to plan and offer robust online programming, and we will not be planning in-person classes at RISD Campus in Providence or at Tillinghast Place throughout the fall term.
Welcome Back to Westerly
As we continue to make significant investments in online learning, we are also excited to announce hybrid (in-person/online) classes this fall at the Westerly Education Center in Westerly, Rhode Island. The Westerly Education Center will be keeping with the most recent guidelines from both the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure the health and safety of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic. These policies include practices such as wearing a cloth mask while on the Westerly Education Center property, maintaining 6 feet of space between yourself and others at all times, and keeping to a small group by not fraternizing with other classes and visitors. Please take some time to read and review WEC’s COVID-19 health and safety policy.
Throughout these turbulent times, we have done our best to offer online versions of what were traditionally in-person classes, and starting this fall we will start offering hybrid (in-person/online) courses at the Westerly Education Center. There are a few changes you might notice in our adult programming:
Shorter online course format: In “normal” times, online courses are delivered in a shorter time frame than in-person courses; they are geared toward people who choose to study online because they have other primary obligations, like work or family. Moving forward, we will be transitioning 12-week online classes into two (18 contact hour), 6-week sessions. Each will be a stand-alone course, with distinct goals and expectations. Taken together these will be the equivalent of one (36 contact hour) 12-week, in-person course.
We hope to have both options in the future: When the time is right to safely return to RISD Campus, we hope to continue offering online courses to provide a flexible experience for students and an in-person version of those classes for students who prefer the longer and local campus experience.
Shifts and substitutions: Some of our classes, particularly those that require specialized equipment or nuanced hands-on training don’t translate well online. We have worked hard to come up with alternative online experiences and experimental digital formats and will continue to do so.
Social Equity + Inclusion
I would like to bring to your attention some of the work RISD is undertaking with the Center for Social Equity + Inclusion in response to community activism around social equity and inclusion, as highlighted in an article in the Boston Globe. RISD Continuing Education’s Mission states that “we are committed to providing an immersive and innovative art and design education for everyone, at all stages of life and all levels of experience.” We are deeply invested in this work and look forward to our continued partnership with SEI. To learn more, please visit RISD’s Center for Social Equity + Inclusion website.
New Registration System + Student Portal
We have seen a tremendous, global, interest in our online programming and we look to continue allocating resources to grow in this space. We are also excited to announce we are actively building a new student registration system, complete with a student portal, which will help better connect our virtual community, as well as improve our overall student experience.
We will continue our recent practice of closing class registration three business days before class start dates to give students time to plan and gather supplies, so please register early to secure a spot in your preferred class this fall. I would like to thank you all for your patience and perseverance as we navigate this new normal together. Please don’t hesitate to reach out directly to me with questions or concerns. I hope you can join us online, or in person at the Westerly Education Center this fall.
Sarah Caggiano (she/her/hers)
Continuing Education (CE)
Rhode Island School of Design