Campus Activity Status

This page provides a summary of permissible campus activities for Brown community members aligned with the easing of COVID-19 health protocols and required prevention measures.

In light of shifting public health conditions on campus and in Providence and Rhode Island, members of the Brown community have and will continue to experience gradually increasing levels of campus activity in the coming months.

This page will be updated as the University continues to adjust the restrictions implemented in response to the pandemic. All students, faculty and staff are expected to align their activities to adhere to the standards currently in place, and in compliance with the COVID-19 Campus Safety PolicyPolicies and guidance on campus may, in some instances, be more restrictive than guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and/or the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).

Updates to Campus Activities

On July 7, Brown students, faculty and staff currently engaged in on-campus, in-person activity achieved a 90% overall COVID-19 vaccination rate, enabling a series of policy changes. The sections below reflect the current status for allowed activities and protocols on Brown’s campus. Please read all sections closely for information currently in effect describing allowed activities on campus, as well as public health restrictions.

Short-term COVID-19 Requirements and Restrictions (as of Sept. 13, 2021)

Amid an increase in positive asymptomatic COVID-19 cases as the campus resumes significant on-site operations, primarily among undergraduate students, the University has announced a set of temporary restrictions. The short-term measures are intended to ensure that Brown can continue the positive gains the campus has made in re-establishing on-site operations and campus activities.

With strong cooperation among students, staff and faculty to ensure the well-being of our community, the University expects to be able to lift these short-term restrictions soon.

  • Increased Undergraduate Testing. Undergraduate student testing frequency will increase to two times per week, which is once every four days (whether students are vaccinated or unvaccinated).
  • Indoor Masking (Including On and Off Campus for Students). All community members — regardless of vaccination status — are required to wear masks indoors, unless in a private, non-shared space or when actively eating. This requirement applies to students' off-campus residences, except when students are alone or with those they immediately live with (roommate, suitemate or apartment mates).
  • Pause on In-Person Dining. Beginning Tuesday, Sept. 14, Brown Dining Services will pause in-person dining in all campus eateries and transition to a "Grab and Go” program for all meal periods. There will be no in-person dining in Brown facilities, including outside the Blue Room in the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center.
  • Limit of 5 for Undergraduate Social Gatherings. Social gatherings for undergraduate students are limited to no more than five people — whether indoors or outdoors — except in instances in which students live in housing with more than five other students (roommates, suitemates or apartment mates). This restriction applies on campus and off campus. Most of the transmission we have seen is due to close social gatherings in which masks are not worn.
  • Refrain from Small-Group “Hopping.” Students are expected to consistently engage with the same small social group, rather than attending or “hopping” among multiple small-group gatherings over the course of a day or short period of time. They should not go to indoor bars or restaurants.
  • No Size Limits on University Gatherings. University-hosted events of any size — which are structured, staffed and supervised by academic or administrative units — may continue to be held in compliance with mask protocols.
  • Outdoor Masking Required in Mixed Brown/Non-Brown Groups. Masks are required at large outdoor gatherings that include individuals from outside the Brown community (who may or may not be vaccinated), including outdoor athletic events and campus admission tours.
  • Modified Masking for Course Instruction. Fully vaccinated instructors may continue to choose to remove their masks when they are speaking during the course of instruction (though they are not required to do so). Because of no current evidence of COVID-19 spread in classes, this remains aligned with guidance provided to faculty and graduate students in the second half of August. (See more details in the Masking Exceptions for Course Instructors section below.)

WHAT IS PERMITTED:

  1. Outdoor activities without masks (if participants are fully vaccinated).

Examples:

  • Outdoor club sports; individual and group athletics and recreation
  • Student organization meetings, events and programs (To the extent possible holding meetings, events and programs outside is strongly preferred.)
  • Hanging out on campus green spaces with friends

NOTE: Mask wearing by vaccinated individuals may be required at some outdoor events — typically events with crowds and where attendees include individuals from outside the Brown community who may or may not be vaccinated. Examples include spectators at outside athletic competitions and admissions tours. You will be notified by event sponsors and through the event publicity when outdoor masking is required.

  1. Indoor activities with strict mask compliance by all (vaccinated and unvaccinated).

Examples:

  • Academic classes.
  • Student organization meetings, events and programs when holding these outdoors is not an option.
  • Studying or meeting friends in the Campus Center, libraries or other campus spaces.
  • Use of the Nelson Fitness Center and Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center.

WHAT IS NOT PERMITTED:

  1. Gatherings of more than five students without masks in settings at higher risk for transmission and increased contacts, such as parties and bars.

Examples:

  • DO NOT attend an indoor party, movie night, or other type of social gathering unmasked with more than 5 students.
  • DO NOT eat or drink indoors in close proximity (without social distancing) with more than 5 students (on campus or off campus).
  • DO wear masks indoors and outdoors when you are in close proximity with other people, especially in settings with people from outside of the Brown community who may or may not be vaccinated.

NOTE: Students who live in residential units (suites or apartments, on or off-campus, with more than 5 students can gather with their apartment/house mates.

WHAT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:

  • DO keep the students you socialize with indoors with to a small, stable group, i.e. no “social group hopping” among multiple small-group gatherings over the course of a day or short period of time.
  • DO NOT go to indoor bars and restaurants (students who have off-campus employment at such facilities can do so, but should be especially careful to wear masks at all times while at work).

Required COVID-19 Vaccination

Brown continues to require COVID-19 vaccination for all employees and all students who are on campus or engage in any level of in-person instruction, whether in the U.S. or abroad. Medical and religious exemptions are granted and reasonable accommodations provided under applicable law. The Vaccinations section of this website has more information about Vaccine Requirements at Brown.

Required Masking Indoors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on July 27, 2021, issued updated guidance for fully vaccinated individuals due to the Delta variant of COVID-19. The CDC recommends that everyone, including fully vaccinated individuals, wear masks indoors in public spaces when local conditions are at a “substantial” or “high” level of viral transmission. Rhode Island is currently at a “high” level of transmission.

Accordingly, effective August 3, 2021, the University reinstituted the requirement that all individuals – regardless of vaccination status – must wear masks indoors, unless in a private, non-shared space (e.g., office or dorm room) or when actively eating. Students who share an apartment or house with other students do not need to wear a mask indoors when only those members of the household are present. However, when guests who are not members of the household enter the apartment or house, everyone who is present needs to wear a mask.

In addition, social distancing of at least six feet must be maintained when unmasked. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear a mask outdoors when social distancing of at least six feet is not possible.

Masking Exceptions for Course Instructors

Based on public health guidance, the Office of the Provost developed a modified masking protocol for course instruction. This guidance was shared with faculty and graduate students in the latter half of August 2021, prior to student orientation.

While Brown continues to require all members of the community to wear masks indoors, fully vaccinated instructors may choose to remove their masks when they are speaking during the course of instruction (though they are not required to do so). Instructors who are teaching classes that require individual students or even groups of students to be unmasked (performing arts courses, or music, for example) were permitted to request modifications to the mask requirement in special circumstances. The very limited number of instructors who received approval for modifications were asked to notify students in their courses and add language to their syllabi explaining the modification.

The Aug. 17 and Aug. 20 messages to faculty and graduate students and a follow-up Sept. 3 FAQ clarifying policies regarding masking, vaccination, testing, and other related protocols for classes are available in the Community Messages section of the Healthy.Brown.edu website. On the Office of the Provost website, a full FAQ for teaching and instruction, including specific guidance for how students will be supported if they are unable to attend in-person only courses, continues to be updated.

Revised and Phased Return to On-site Work for Employees Working Remotely

In order to facilitate a gradual increase in the campus population for the return to significant on-site operations, academic and administrative units were asked to follow this phased schedule:

  • Monday, August 16: Employees and offices actively engaged in supporting the student experience, student move-in, peer leader training, pre-orientation and orientation programs, varsity athletic pre-season activities, etc. will be expected to return in-person by this date.
  • Wednesday, September 1: Faculty and academic staff actively engaged in academic advising and support for new students during orientation (Advising Day is Friday, September 3, 2021) will be expected to return in-person by this date.
  • Wednesday, September 8: Faculty and academic staff actively engaged in teaching will be expected to return in-person by this date (first day of classes).
  • Monday, September 13: All other employees and administrative offices will be expected to return in-person by this date.

Please note that the date by which employees were expected to return to campus is separate and distinct from the Alternative Work Assignment (AWA) process. If an AWA has been approved in Workday, the staff member’s AWA schedule was expected to begin no later than the applicable start date above.

Increased Frequency of COVID-19 Routine Testing Requirements

The University announced July 27, 2021, that Brown is continuing its COVID-19 routine asymptomatic testing program through at least the month of September. In light of concerns regarding the Delta variant, Brown announced August 3 an increase in the previously announced frequency of testing.

The University is requiring most vaccinated Brown community members to be tested once a week (every 7 days) and unvaccinated community members to be tested twice per week (every 4 days), though all undergraduate students are to be tested twice per week (every 4 days) as part of temporary restrictions announced September 3.

A higher frequency of testing is a safety measure to help us continue to understand the prevalence of COVID-19 in the population and how it changes over time. This supports our planning efforts as we continue to monitor conditions on campus.

Testing frequency requirements for students, faculty and staff are as follows [updated in accordance with the August 3, 2021, announcement regarding testing frequenting and the September 13 announcement regarding short-term restrictions]. See other protocols and expectations for the fall announced July 7, 2021, that remain in place. 

Fall 2021 COVID-19 Routine Testing Requirements:

Undergraduate Students:

  • Vaccinated  and unvaccinated students are expected to be tested with a frequency of twice per week (every 4 days). For students already in Providence, day 1 will be Monday, August 16.

Graduate and First- and Second-Year Medical Students Students:

  • Vaccinated students (14 days past their final dose) will be tested on arrival (day 1 on campus) and then with a frequency of every week (every 7 days).
  • Unvaccinated students (those with approved exemptions and those who are in the process of getting vaccinated) were tested on arrival and instructed to follow direction from Campus Life and Health Services regarding a modified quarantine period. Once released from the modified quarantine period, unvaccinated students will be tested twice per week (every 4 days).

Employees (faculty and staff, including postdocs):

  • Vaccinated employees (14 days past their final dose) will be tested with a frequency of every week (every 7 days), beginning Monday, August 16 (or on your designated return to on-site work date as specified in the Aug. 3, 2021 announcement).
  • Unvaccinated employees (those with approved exemptions and those who are in the process of getting vaccinated) will be tested twice per week (every 4 days), beginning Monday, August 16 (or on your designated return to on-site work date as specified in the Aug. 3, 2021 announcement).
  • For employees who have been remote, testing is not required in advance of or on the first day of your return, but rather as you are resuming campus activities and then on the schedule described above depending on your vaccination status.

Updated COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy

The COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy was updated in August 2021 to reflect current medical and health guidance, regulations of the State of Rhode Island and public health conditions. The updated policy is a simpler and more general framework that allows for increased levels of activities and operations over the course of the summer and into the fall as public health conditions continue to allow. The policy remains an important foundation governing the activities of the entire campus, and all members of the community should carefully review and fully understand the updated policy and their individual responsibilities and obligations.

Social Distancing

The primary way that COVID-19 spreads, especially among unvaccinated individuals, is through close contact. When social distancing is required, six (6) feet of minimum distance should be maintained between individuals. The following social distancing standards should be followed by all individuals on the Brown campus:

  • Unvaccinated individuals indoors: Wear a mask and maintain a 6-foot distance from others at all times (especially when actively eating and drinking which requires removal of the mask).
  • Unvaccinated individuals outdoors: Maintain a 6-foot distance from others at all times; wear a mask if that is not possible.
  • Vaccinated individuals indoors: Wear a mask; social distancing is not required (while actively eating and drinking it is a good idea to distance as much as possible).
  • Vaccinated individuals outdoors: Mask and social distancing are not required.

Use of Student Communal Spaces

Residence hall kitchens, study spaces and lounges are now open for student use. Mask-wearing and social distancing protocols should be followed as outlined above.

Expanded Use of Conference Rooms

In administrative and academic buildings, in-person meetings and use of conference rooms and other spaces is now allowed with no limits on size (other than fire code and other non-pandemic related restrictions), and no limitations on types of visitors and guests, whether or not they are members of the campus community. The use of kitchen and break spaces continues to be allowed in administrative and academic buildings. In all cases, mask-wearing and social distancing protocols should be followed as outlined above.

Increased Individual Movement

Restrictions regarding where community members are allowed to be on campus are eliminated: Researchers can visit other research locations; on-campus students can visit students in residence halls other than their own (in compliance with any limits on gathering sizes that are in effect); off-campus students can visit student residence halls (also in compliance with any limits on gathering sizes that are in effect), etc.

Easing of Travel Restrictions

Brown continues to update its travel policies in light of the increased COVID-19 vaccination rates in the U.S. and the growing international availability of COVID-19 vaccines. Brown encourages all travelers on domestic and international travel to exercise caution and abide by relevant local and country health guidance.

  • University-Sponsored International Travel: Brown has returned to its previously established policy for High-Risk and Restricted University-sponsored international travel. A summary of the policy is provided on the Travel Policies page with details on the implications for students, faculty and staff. More information about Brown’s international travel policy is available on the International Travel Risk Management website
  • University-Sponsored Domestic Travel: The University has lifted the “essential travel only” mandate and is gradually easing restrictions on domestic University-sponsored travel. In addition, the University has lifted undergraduate travel restrictions for individual students undertaking University-sponsored domestic travel. This will allow greater flexibility for members of the Brown community to conduct mission-critical research and to take part in activities and opportunities that cannot be deferred or carried out by remote means.
  • Travel for Field Research: If the purpose of travel is to carry out essential field research, the Justification and Safety Plan must first be approved by the Field Research Subcommittee. Details about field research approvals are available on the Resuming Research webpage.
  • Undergraduate Travel: Students should continue to consult the Travel-related Guidance for Undergraduate students page for more information.
  • Personal Travel: As with University-sponsored travel, Brown continues to encourage all travelers on domestic and international personal travel to exercise caution and abide by relevant local and country health guidance. Travelers should continue to prepare for the possibility of local quarantines and fluctuating travel and domestic operations restrictions and/or testing requirements in some locations. The University is unable to support the health, safety, travel and academic needs of community members on personal travel.

Events, Dining, Fitness and Other Activities

  • Brown campus community members now have use of athletic and recreational facilities (including access to the Nelson Fitness Center and the Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center).
  • Dining services are now open. Per the implementation of temporary COVID-19 restrictions, Brown Dining Services will pause in-person dining in all campus eateries, effective Tuesday, Sept. 14, and transition to a "Grab and Go" program for all meal periods. There will be no in-person dining in Brown facilities, including outside the Blue Room in the Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center.
  • The Brown Bookstore is open to the public.
  • Effective August 15, 2021, visitors and guests are allowed on the Brown University campus without specific approvals or permissions, subject to Brown’s policies and health protocols. All visitors and guests must comply with the University’s COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy and follow all guidance, direction and requirements regarding COVID-19 health and safety protocols, including at events. Visitors to and guests of Brown University are explicitly subject to the provisions and expectations outlined in the Visitors & Guests section for vaccinations and masking.
  • Per the temporary restrictions announced September 12, 2021, masks are required at large outdoor gatherings that include individuals from outside the Brown community (who may or may not be vaccinated), including outdoor athletic events and campus admission tours.

Last updated Sept. 14, 2021. Information on this page will be updated as the University’s planning evolves and/or public health guidance prompts a shift in Brown’s operations and protocols.