After an intensive planning process, Brown unveiled its 2020-21 academic-year plans in July 2020. To reduce the density of students on campus, Brown is pursuing a three-term academic model, and also has implemented a robust set of public health practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus and safeguard the health of students, employees and community members. Students have been scheduled to be on campus, if they choose, in phases to reduce density in line with rigorous health protocols.
Students scheduled to be on campus are given the opportunity to choose to study remotely, and any faculty member with health or other concerns cab choose to offer instruction remotely. All courses have a remote learning option. As Brown prepares for the Spring 2021 semester, the University is at Level 1 Campus Activity Status, meaning significant limitations to in-person activities. When public health conditions allow, classes of 19 students or less will be taught in-person.
Highlights of Brown's operations for the 2020-21 academic year include the following:
- For the Fall 2020 term: Brown announced on Aug. 11, 2020, a phased approach to bringing students back for the fall semester in light of the shifting public health conditions of the global pandemic. In the first phase of the fall term, all undergraduate classes were taught fully online until the week of October 5, and only a limited number of undergraduates were permitted to return and have access to campus. Graduate and medical students have been engaged in research and instruction since the summer, while the majority of undergraduate students started the Fall 2020 semester studying remotely. The University announced on Sept. 10, 2020, it would proceed with phase two of bringing the majority of students back to campus and beginning in-person instruction of small classes.
- For the Spring 2021 term: Classes begin remotely Jan. 20, 2021, for the spring semester, with students observing a "quiet period" before in-person classes commence. On Oct. 29, 2020, Brown confirmed its Spring 2021 plan to allow a larger number of undergraduates, including first-years, to return to campus for an in-person residential experience, while students who choose to study remotely will be able to continue to do so. Likewise, graduate students will continue to have the option to enroll in coursework in a remote or hybrid format, and deans in the medical school will communicate directly with medical students about schedules and operations on an ongoing basis. Faculty will continue to have the option to teach, mentor and advise in-person or remotely, and staff who can work remotely should continue to do so. Any employee who will work on campus must do so in alignment with an approved Return to Campus Plan.
- Effective Nov. 18, 2020, Brown's Campus Activity Status returned to Level 1 with regard to learning, dining, exercising, socializing, off-campus engagement, etc. The activity level had previously been at Level 2 as of Oct. 5, 2020, but the spread of COVID-19 in the region prompted a return to online-only instruction and other public health measures in the final week of fall semester classes for most students.
- Employees who are able to continue working remotely will continue to do so for the months ahead. Telecommuting policies are currently in effect, and the University will notify all employees of changes or timeline extensions regarding telecommuting as decisions are made.
- Based on assessment of previous testing trends at Brown and consistent with guidance from the CDC and RIDOH, effective Feb. 4, 2021, the University will require students, faculty and staff who may have been exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine for a period of 10 days from the date of last known exposure. For more information on this specific policy, please see the related FAQ under the Test Results section of the Testing and Tracing FAQs page.
- Travel restrictions remain in place, aligned with state law and public health guidance, and access to campus is limited for visitors.
- Updated events policies are designed to engage in community-building in person, while also limiting risk and prioritizing the health and safety of community members.
In February 2021, Brown issued updated recommendations on mask-wearing in light of new guidance from the CDC. Among the highlights of the University's guidance was a strong urge that all members of the community wear a single high-quality mask (such as a KF94) or two masks (e.g., a cotton mask over a surgical mask) when indoors in close proximity to other people for a sustained period of time, or in circumstances where social distancing is difficult to maintain, even for shorter periods of time. This includes, but is not limited to, in-person classroom settings, work in laboratories under an approved Resuming Research plan, picking up meals, going to the mailroom or bookstore, and getting a COVID-19 test.
The Ivy League announced on Nov. 12 that league schools, including Brown, will not conduct intercollegiate athletics competition for winter sports during the 2020-21 season, nor will the league conduct competition for previously cancelled fall sports during the upcoming spring semester.
Read more about Brown’s COVID-19 planning in the “Plan for a Healthy and Safe 2020-21."