One of the most significant cuts is the planned closure of the Henry Barnard School, a laboratory elementary school on the RIC campus. The PreK-5 building serves as a teaching school for educators in training, at RIC’s school of education. 

According to a statement put out by RIC Monday, the elementary school has operated at a loss of more than one million dollars over the last three years and has had declining enrollements. The elementary school will close at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. 

That is just one of the cuts RIC is being forced to make to reduce overall operating expenses by 15 percent. The school had anticipated a $4 million budget shortfall prior to the pandemic. Anticipating a 10 percent decline in enrollment because because of COVID-19, the school is now projecting that shortfall will grow to $10.4 million. 

“The pandemic and its unprecedented impacts have triggered one of the biggest fiscal challenges in Rhode Island College’s 166-year history,” said RIC President Frank D. Sánchez in a statement. 

The school is also implementing pay cuts for college executives, including the President and school deans, of up to 10 percent. Additionally, the school is delaying a cost of living adjustment for unionized faculty.

Dozens of open positions created by retirements and attrition over the last year will remain unfilled, and a new round of layoffs is expected in September. Adjunct faculty could see a severe decline in courses, as the school plans to slash its adjunct budget by as much as fifty percent.

Colleges across the nation are scrambling to balance their books as COVID-19 reopening plans demand unbudgeted investments in protective materials, infrastructure upgrades, and cleaning supplies. These new costs are coupled with significant revenue losses in room and board, due to decreased capacity in dormitories and other buildings to maintain social distancing measures.

Rhode Island College teaches some 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students, many of them commuters and first generation college students. The school previously announced most college courses will be offered online-only to reduce in-person interactions and stem the spread of COVID-19.