Just one month into the fall semester, the state’s public community college has already determined classes will remain largely virtual until at least the summer of 2021. Currently, about a quarter of the college’s courses are being offered in-person, or hybrid style. 

"There are two practical reasons for making a decision now, rather than later this term," said CCRI President Meghan Hughes in a letter to staff and students. "First, although the fall semester has just begun, academic plans must soon be finalized for the spring. The second reason is the gravity of the virus itself." 

The decision comes as new COVID-19 cases statewide have ticked up, with 173 new cases reported Wednesday by state health officials. There has also been an increase of COVID-19 cases among undergraduate students now attending local colleges, namely Providence College and the University of Rhode Island.

"We have no reason to believe that if we come together for in-person learning we would be exempt from the same community spread that other colleges and universities are seeing this semester," Hughes said. 

CCRI is a commuter school, with campuses spread across the state. Rhode Island’s health department reported 20 cases of the virus associated with CCRI, Monday.

The college faces a budget shortfall of more than $10 million, due to lost revenue and delayed state appropriations. School administrators laid off more than 15

0 employees since this summer.