March 6, 2020
President Christina H. Paxson
Tags Undergraduates Grad and Medical Students Faculty and Staff

To Brown Campus: Updated policies on Brown events and travel in light of COVID-19


Dear Members of the Brown Community:

Given the rapidly evolving impact of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in new locations across the globe, including in the U.S. and here in Rhode Island, members of Brown’s Core Crisis Team have been convening on a daily basis to consider the impact on the University community and our operations.

I write today to share Brown’s updated guidance for anyone considering travel in the coming months — especially recognizing increasing levels of travel planning as we approach the University’s March 21 to 29 spring recess —and for community members who are planning to host or attend Brown events.

I urge each member of our community to read this information closely and consider the impact on upcoming travel and events, as many existing plans will require adjustment or cancellation.

Of particular urgency, community members should know that:

  • Effective Monday, March 9, with a few exceptions noted below, all in-person Brown events with 100 attendees or more, in venues both on and away from campus, must be postponed, cancelled or offered virtually.
  • Brown has now suspended all upcoming University-sponsored travel to international destinations.
  • Anyone returning to the U.S. after any travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea will be required to self-isolate in a U.S. location away from campus for at least 14 days before returning to Brown.

More information on each of these measures is included below.

We recognize the impact that these measures will have and fully appreciate the cooperation of all students, faculty and staff as we contend with what has become a global health emergency. Our foremost priority remains protecting the health and safety of all members of the Brown community. At the same time, our hope is to enable students, faculty and staff to continue research, teaching and scholarship to the greatest extent possible.


Christina H. Paxson



Effective Monday, March 9, all in-person Brown sponsored or organized events with 100 attendees or more, in venues both on and away from campus, must be postponed, cancelled or offered virtually. Academic courses are excluded from this restriction. Policies for athletic events are being developed and will be announced on Monday.

This guidance will remain in place for events scheduled through Monday, April 13 — guidance for later events will be provided after monitoring the situation over the coming weeks.

For events with fewer than 100 attendees, organizers should exercise judgment in planning. Please consider all factors that can help to protect the community’s health — for example, consider booking larger venues so attendees can spread out, re-evaluating invitations to attendees from beyond Brown, offering event content virtually, or eliminating shared food and drink offerings.

We recognize that this will impact many significant gatherings and traditions. For example, the University today decided to cancel all “A Day on College Hill” admission events for April. Event organizers should direct questions to University Events, Student Activities or the academic or administrative departments most directly involved in planning. For additional questions, please email


University-sponsored Travel

International Travel

Based on updated guidance from international, national and local agencies — including a recommendation this week from R.I. Governor Gina Raimondo — Brown has suspended all upcoming international travel organized or sponsored by the University, effective Friday, March 6.

This means that for all international destinations:

  • All students are prohibited from international travel as part of any University-sponsored program. This includes travel for all academic programs, student organizations and travel for Brown research.
  • Faculty and staff are prohibited from University-sponsored international travel unless advance permission is granted by the Provost’s Office.

Brown community members in China, Iran, Italy and South Korea (including those in suspended study abroad programs) have already been advised to return to their homes in the United States. This is in line with countries that have been identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the highest risk. While the University is not recalling students, faculty and staff in other international destinations (for study abroad programs, research projects or other purposes), Brown’s Core Crisis Team continues to evaluate each program individually to consider the need for further program suspensions.

Travel in the United States

The University is carefully evaluating plans for all upcoming Brown-sponsored trips in the U.S., particularly during spring recess. Members of Brown’s Core Crisis Team and International Travel Risk Assessment Committee are advising Brown trip organizers on their decision-making.

  • At this point, there is no University directive to cancel trips within the U.S., though required cancellations remain a possibility as the Core Crisis Team continues to monitor COVID-19.
  • Units, programs and individuals may determine whether to cancel travel at any time based on logistical considerations (such as anticipated low participation).

At a minimum, organizers of U.S. trips should continue to monitor available information daily about COVID-19 and travel guidance, consider the logistical challenges that could emerge — i.e., changes to travel schedules, costs incurred for cancellations — and anticipate in advance the potential need to adjust or cancel plans.

Personal Travel

The University’s ability to support the health, safety, travel and academic needs of community members on personal travel is significantly more limited than for those on Brown-sponsored travel.

Travel to Brown Restricted Destinations (CDC Level 3)

Brown strongly discourages any personal travel to any country with a CDC Level 2 or Level 3 risk designation. Currently, China, Iran, Italy and South Korea are designated as Level 3, and Japan as Level 2 for COVID-19. Additional countries may be added by the CDC at any point. For all Level 3 countries:

  • In alignment with CDC guidance, any Brown community member returning to the U.S. will be required to self-isolate in a U.S. location away from campus for at least 14 days before returning to Brown.
  • The off-campus self-isolation requirement extends also to travelers who are already in Level 3 destinations who return to the U.S.
  • Given quickly evolving travel guidance and quarantine measures, travelers to any CDC Level 3 destination should recognize that a return to Brown during the spring semester could become unlikely.

Other International Travel

Travelers should prepare for the possibility of local quarantines in some locations; numerous commercial flights have been canceled; and return to the U.S. from some international destinations may be delayed or even impossible. For these reasons and others, Brown community members are urged to avoid all non-essential international travel. Travelers to any international destination should recognize the potential for challenges in returning to the Brown campus.

Personal Travel in the United States

With COVID-19 cases continuing to emerge across the nation, even travel within the United States may become more challenging. Anyone with domestic travel plans should carefully consider whether they should be adjusted or cancelled.

Resources and Information Sources for Spring Recess

For students who choose to forgo travel and remain at Brown during spring recess, all residence halls will remain open and the University will meet the dining needs of those on campus. Campus Life and the Global Brown Center are planning increased events and programs. Further information on plans will be made available in the coming weeks.

The University will continue to update its comprehensive COVID-19 website with information, and this site remains the best source of current information on Brown’s preparedness, action and response to coronavirus.


For the sake of personal health and the well-being of the entire Brown community, the University is asking all community members to consider the risks involved in upcoming travel and hosting events, independent of current guidance. Factors to consider include the potential to miss class or work due to quarantine requirements, which continue to evolve, or from unanticipated delays returning to campus because of travel measures (particularly for international travelers returning from personal travel to the U.S.). It’s prudent also to monitor public health notices in cities and states across the country where coronavirus is a growing concern.