Testing and Tracing

A robust protocol of testing and contact tracing for all students, faculty and staff who are on campus regularly is serving as an essential element for supporting community health.

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

This is providing a better understanding of the initial incidence of novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in the population and how it changes over the year, as well as identifying the proportion of asymptomatic positives and the proportion with potential immunity to the disease over time.

The following points reflect the essential elements of Brown’s testing program:

  • Testing is mandatory for all students, faculty and staff who are on campus.
    All community members receive an initial baseline test at the point at which they come to campus (at the start of a semester, or in resuming on-campus work, for example). Undergraduate student testing frequency will increase to two times per week, which is once every four days (whether students are vaccinated or unvaccinated). Vaccinated graduate and medical students and employees must complete a test once a week (every seven days), and unvaccinated graduate and medical students and employees must complete a test twice per week (every four days). Additional details are included below in the Testing Frequency section.
  • All asymptomatic tests are taking place on Brown's College Hill campus and at One Davol Square in the Jewelry District.
    Community members who meet the requirements for routine testing are asked to perform a self-administered nasal swab — the most reliable, accurate and non-invasive method available currently — and clinical personnel guide participants as needed from a safe distance. Brown continues to cover all costs. Full details on testing sites and operating hours are available on the Testing Sites and Hours page.
  • Brown performs testing of symptomatic students through University Health Services (UHS) using nasopharyngeal swabs.
    UHS staff are equipped with standard clinical personal protective equipment to perform the tests. An alternate campus site for testing symptomatic students has been identified to avoid congestion at UHS facilities where other students are visiting for other unrelated issues.
  • Employees with COVID-19 symptoms should contact a health care provider and University Human Resources.
    Per the University’s COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy, faculty and staff must stay home from work, inform University Human Resources and contact their medical provider if they experience symptoms of COVID-19, test positive for the virus or have been exposed to the virus through an identified contact.
  • A robust contact tracing strategy is helping to minimize the risk of community spread.
    Brown has implemented a contact tracing program, through which the University is notifying individuals who have been in contact with someone infected with novel coronavirus, coordinating with the Rhode Island Department of Health as necessary.

Testing Frequency as of August 2021

While Brown had started to phase out routine COVID-19 testing for vaccinated community members in July 2021, the University in August 2021 — based on evolving public health guidance and the potential impact of the Delta variant — resumed the requirement that all students, faculty and staff on campus complete routine asymptomatic testing. Testing frequency will vary based on vaccination status, but all community members, including those who are fully vaccinated, are required to participate in testing as directed.

Students (undergraduate):

  • Undergraduate student testing frequency will increase to two times per week, which is once every four days (whether students are vaccinated or unvaccinated).

Students (graduate, first- and second-year medical):

  • 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 seven days). For students already in Providence, day 1 will be when they are instructed to resume testing.
  • Unvaccinated students (those with approved exemptions and those who are in the process of getting vaccinated) will be tested on arrival (day 1 on campus, or when they are instructed to resume testing for those already in Providence) and 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 four days).

PLEASE NOTE: All students who have been advised of either a twice weekly or once weekly testing cadence requirement must maintain this frequency of testing each week, even if they have no other plans on campus during a given week.

Employees (faculty and staff, including postdocs):

  • Vaccinated employees (14 days past their final dose) will be tested with a frequency of every week (every seven days).
  • Unvaccinated employees (those with approved exemptions and those who are in the process of getting vaccinated) will be tested twice per week (every four days).

Reporting Prevalence

The University is committed to keeping the community informed of prevalence on campus, though Brown is not publicly reporting individual positive tests to preserve privacy. Brown's COVID-19 dashboard reports aggregate data on SARS-CoV-2 prevalence, and weekly updates published in [email protected] and posted to the Messages to the Community page include additional details and context.

Last updated Sept. 13, 2021. 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.