Healthy Brown

Testing and Tracing

A thorough protocol of testing and contact tracing for all Brown employees and students is in development as an essential element for supporting community health.

To maintain a healthy and safe community during the pandemic, Brown will focus on identifying and stopping the community spread of virus at the earliest possible stages. Routine testing — which tests individuals regardless of symptoms to monitor for the virus’s spread — will be essential for the health of the campus population.

Brown intends in Fall 2020 to test all students on re-entry to Brown, as well as continue periodic routine testing. This will allow a better understanding of the initial incidence of COVID-19 in the population and how it changes over the year, as well as identify the proportion of asymptomatic positives and the proportion with potential immunity to the disease over time. This testing will use the least invasive and reliable means possible to reduce the burden on the student population.

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Routine testing will be essential for the health of the campus population.

Brown will perform testing of symptomatic students at University Health Services (UHS) using nasopharyngeal swabs, and samples will continue to be sent to Lifespan labs for processing. UHS staff will require standard clinical personal protective equipment to perform the tests. An alternate testing site will be identified on campus for UHS to perform tests during the day in order to avoid congestion of symptomatic students at UHS facilities where other students are coming for other unrelated issues.

The University has already implemented a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Policy, which establishes a variety of policies to mitigate the risks, including mandating the wearing of face masks, unless an exception applies, and prescribing protocols for Brown community members to follow when they feel sick, have been tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, or exposed to someone with COVID-19.

Given that testing methods and evidence regarding their efficacy is rapidly developing, the University is closely monitoring these developments and will take advantage of the latest testing strategies available.

Testing Pilot

Brown implemented a coordinated testing and contact tracing program for Summer 2020 that will continue into the fall and beyond with the goal of preventing community spread of novel coronavirus to the best extent practicable.

Brown has contracted with a third-party vendor to perform routine testing, starting with a pilot for all faculty, staff and graduate students designated as essential for working on site. The summer pilot is mandatory for all essential on-site and essential-special graduate students, faculty and staff. It includes initial baseline testing of all employees and then follow-up routine random sampling.

The University anticipates that what we learn from this summer pilot will provide essential information that helps to inform Brown’s public health testing strategy for the coming academic year.

Contact Tracing

Brown has identified staff in UHS and University Human Resources who are responsible for assisting with contact tracing of students, faculty and staff who test positive for SARS-CoV-2. All of these individuals are completing a “COVID-19 Contact Tracing” training program provided by Johns Hopkins University through Coursera. They will use an established protocol to follow up on all positive SARS-CoV-2 tests in students, faculty and staff, identifying potential Brown community contacts using available digital applications and through virtual interviews of those with positive SARS-CoV-2 swabs (more information is available in Appendix A of the Plan for a Healthy and Safe 2020-21).

It is intended that Brown’s contact tracers will work in coordination with Rhode Island Department of Health’s own contact tracing efforts. The numbers of trained contact tracers will be adjusted throughout the year based on demand, but we anticipate about six full-time contact tracers will be sufficient for Brown’s student population and two for Brown’s employee population.

Isolation Protocol

All students, faculty and staff must take responsibility for their own health and the health of others by practicing self-isolation if exhibiting symptoms of flu or novel coronavirus.

Informing Brown’s testing plans are initial epidemiological models developed for the expected campus residence hall population in the fall term, which includes predictions for infected students detected on any given day. As part of these plans, the University has limited population density through its de-densified academic model in anticipation of the need to house a number of infected students requiring isolation at any given time.

The University is preparing quarantine/isolation rooms for students, based on its modeling. Students who live in private off-campus apartments will also be treated, tested and contact traced through UHS but will be able to isolate in their apartments. More details are available in Brown’s Plan for a Healthy and Safe 2020-21.

Last updated July 7, 2020. Information on this page may be updated as the University’s planning evolves and/or public health guidance prompts a shift in Brown’s operations and protocols.