Dear Brown Community Members,
I am writing to provide guidance and direction regarding the University’s expectations for departments and programs hosting visitors or holding events, programs, conferences and other activities (including pre-semester programming) later this summer and into the fall semester. As with all planning related to the COVID-19 pandemic, this guidance is subject to change if public health conditions and/or guidance or regulations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the State of Rhode Island changes.
An underlying principle regarding planning for the coming year is that the campus will be highly vaccinated and, therefore, as the current science indicates, likely protected against community spread of COVID-19. The guidance provided in this announcement includes a number of conditions and becomes effective only upon the University attaining near-universal (90% and above) vaccination status among students, faculty and staff. After announcing the vaccination requirement for all students, faculty and staff, the Brown community is on track to achieve the target vaccination rate for the community by early July (among those who are on campus this summer) and therefore, we expect the guidance below will become effective early next month. However, community members should be prepared to be flexible if the vaccination rate does not reach the target level by mid-summer.
This communication shares guidance and the conditions expected on campus later this summer and/or for the fall semester in the areas outlined below (assuming near-universal vaccination levels and continuing satisfactory public health conditions):
1. Vaccination protocols
2. Phase-out schedule for routine asymptomatic COVID-19 testing
3. Mask wearing policies, dependent on vaccination status
5. Events and gatherings
6. Visitors and guests, including vaccination protocols
7. Athletics and recreation
1. VACCINATION PROTOCOLS
All students, faculty and staff must fully comply with the University’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Information regarding vaccination availability, including guidance for international students, faculty and staff who may only be able to obtain the vaccine when they arrive in Rhode Island for the Fall 2021 semester, can be found on the Vaccine Availability and Eligibility page of the Healthy Brown website.
Not everyone on the Brown campus will be vaccinated — for example, some members of the community will have received medical or religious exemptions, as permitted by law. Brown will instruct individuals who are not vaccinated to wear masks. However, please note that it is not appropriate to ask any other individual why they are wearing a mask, or not. Also, members of the community should not inquire about any other member’s vaccination status. While it’s natural to wonder if a colleague has been vaccinated, issues of health are private, and science indicates that individuals who have been vaccinated have a strong level of protection against COVID-19.
2. COVID-19 ROUTINE TESTING PROGRAM
- July and August 2021: Later this summer, we expect to remove community members who have been fully vaccinated (14 days past their final dose) from the COVID-19 routine testing program. Testing program participants will receive a direct communication when they can stop testing, and should continue to test as assigned until they are told otherwise. Community members who have not yet received and documented their vaccination status or have received an approved exemption and have been approved to be on campus must be tested once a week through the month of August through Brown’s testing program.
- September 2021 and for the Foreseeable Future: The University will end the community-wide COVID-19 routine asymptomatic testing program at the end of August. Symptomatic testing will be available through University Health Services for students exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Faculty and staff exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms should continue to see their own health care provider for symptomatic testing. The University is also exploring the possibility of smaller-scale (random sampling, for example) asymptomatic testing to assess the effectiveness of vaccines and protect against possible variants of COVID-19, and we will communicate further about that possibility as we get closer to the fall term.
3. MASK WEARING PROTOCOLS
- Vaccinated Individuals: Once the University reaches 90% vaccination levels among students, faculty and staff, fully vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear a mask indoors, with the exception of ongoing mask requirements on University shuttles, while visiting University Health Services and visiting COVID-19 testing sites. Students, faculty and staff who are engaged in activities in health care settings (such as those at the Warren Alpert Medical School) should continue to follow guidance specific to those settings.
- Unvaccinated Individuals: Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks indoors when with other people and outdoors if unable to maintain 3 feet of social distance. This includes students, faculty and others who arrive on campus in August or September who have not yet been vaccinated; those individuals will need to continue to wear masks and practice social distancing until they are 14 days past their final dose.
- Vaccine Exempted Individuals: Members of the community who have received an exemption from the University from vaccination on medical or religious grounds will receive individual instructions regarding health and safety measures they must follow, but in most cases they will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing.
- Optional Mask Wearing: Any member of the community who is not otherwise required to wear a mask can, of course, voluntarily choose to wear a mask in any setting at any time and for any reason (including personal and community protection against seasonal flu and colds). This personal choice should be respected. As with vaccination status, no one should ask another individual about their personal choice to wear a mask.
- Class Sizes: For the Fall 2021 semester (beginning in early August for the Warren Alpert Medical School and in September for the College and Graduate School) there will be no limitations or restrictions on in-person class meetings, including class size.
- Libraries, Labs and Other Settings: Libraries will be open at full capacity with no reservation process. Pre-pandemic capacity limitations in laboratories and other academic settings will determine allowable attendance, and there will be no social distancing requirements.
5. EVENTS AND GATHERINGS
- August 15 and Beyond: There will be no restrictions on events of any type, gatherings or performances, including no limits on attendance/audience (other than fire code and other non-pandemic related restrictions), and no limitations on event visitors and guests. Members of the community planning events, conferences, programs and meetings for the fall semester (including orientation and pre-orientation programming) can do so with the expectation that there will be no restrictions, limitations or special approval processes in place. There will be no special restrictions on food at events, or limitations around food delivery (such as buffet service) or other shared activities and items. Given the high levels of vaccination already achieved at the Warren Alpert Medical School, its orientation programs that begin in July will take place with no pandemic-related restrictions or limitations.
- Undergraduate Student Organizations: Undergraduate student organizations should work with the Student Activities Office for guidance and support related to in-person meetings and activities. The Student Activities Office will also provide guidance and reminders on its website and in a communication to all student organizations this week.
- Reserving Spaces: Space reservations for August 15 and beyond will become available through the Scheduling Office as we get closer to that date. The Scheduling Office will provide advance notification to the community regarding when space reservations can begin to be made.
6. VISITORS AND GUESTS
Given the number and range of types of visitors to the Brown campus throughout the year, there will be additional and more detailed information regarding visitors communicated to the campus through [email protected] and a new visitor policy web page to be established later this summer. The guidance below is intended to provide general information for the entire community to set expectations and allow departments and programs to begin planning for the fall.
Beginning August 15, visitors and guests will be allowed on campus without specific approvals or permissions, subject to the provisions and expectations detailed below:
- Mask Protocols: As with members of the Brown community, visitors and guests who are vaccinated will not be required to wear masks indoors or outdoors, unless otherwise specified at the location where the programming or activity will occur or for the specific activity, such as in health care settings. Unvaccinated visitors and guests must wear masks indoors when with other people and outdoors when unable to maintain 3 feet of social distance.
- Vaccination Requirements for Regular or Sustained Engagement: Visitors to Brown, whether researchers, faculty, students or others, who are engaged in any sustained and consistent in-person contact with other Brown employees, students or visitors are required to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Any visitor of this type who is not vaccinated for COVID-19 must engage with the University virtually. Exemptions for medical or religious grounds do not apply to visitors to the University. However, if the visitor is an individual with a disability, the individual may seek a reasonable accommodation, and the visitor policy web page to be developed later this summer will have information regarding how to do so.
- Categories of Visitors: Given the range of types and lengths of visits to the campus, the implementation of the vaccination requirement may vary across programs. In general, visitors fall into three categories:
1) long-term (usually a semester or more although sometimes for shorter periods of time and with an appointment in Workday);2) short-term (four full days over the course of a month or more, but without an appointment in Workday); and3) limited-duration (visits of three days per month or less).
Vaccination Requirements Based on Visitor Category
Long-term and short-term visitors are required to provide documentation or attest to being vaccinated; limited-duration visitors are not. Please review this additional information about how the vaccination requirement applies to these categories of visitors:
- Long-term Visitors (e.g., researchers, visiting faculty) With an Appointment in Workday: Long-term visitors (usually for a semester or more, although sometimes for shorter periods of time) typically have an appointment in Workday. These visitors are required to upload documentation of vaccination into Workday prior to beginning work at Brown. Requests for exemption from the vaccination requirement from long-term visitors will not be considered; if these visitors are not vaccinated against COVID-19, they must engage with the University virtually. However, if the visitor is an individual with a disability, the individual may seek a reasonable accommodation following the instructions that will be detailed on the visitor policy web page later in the summer.
- Short-term Visitors Without Appointments in Workday: Short-term visitors are those who visit campus four full days or more over the course of a month. They are required to sign a University vaccination form that will be provided to visitors and then kept by the host department (the form will be available to departments on the visitor policy web page later in the summer). Requests for exemption from the vaccination requirement from short-term visitors will not be considered; if these visitors are not vaccinated for COVID-19, they must engage with the University virtually. However, if the visitor is an individual with a disability, the individual may seek a reasonable accommodation following the instructions that will be detailed on the visitor policy web page later in the summer. Short-term visitors must abide by the COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy and any requirements specific to the facility or program they are visiting (e.g., health care or medical research settings with indoor mask requirements). Short-term visitors may include:
- regular external users of core research facilities;
- research visitors who do not require a Brown ID or Workday appointment;
- skills-based practitioners (e.g., visiting artists working with students and others for limited periods of time);
- prospective students (and family members) and prospective faculty or staff visiting the campus for tours, interviews or recruiting visits lasting more than three days;
- consultants on long-term sustained engagements.
- Limited-Duration Visitors: Limited-duration visitors are those who visit campus three days per month or less. Except as provided below, limited-duration visitors are not required to sign a vaccination form; they must abide by the COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy and any requirements specific to the facility or program they are visiting (e.g., health care or medical research settings with indoor mask requirements). These visitors must wear a mask if they are unvaccinated. Limited-duration visitors may include:
- guests attending a lecture, performance, conference, event, campus tour or athletic competition;
- prospective students (and family members) and prospective faculty and staff visiting the campus for less than three days;
- visitors consulting library, art and material culture collections, or viewing exhibitions, gallery displays and cultural points of interest on campus.
In some instances, a limited-duration visitor may be required to sign a vaccination form (the form will be available to departments on the visitor policy web page later in the summer) and be vaccinated in order to participate in an event or activity in-person. For example, vaccination may be required for a visitor attending a one- to three-day conference or seminar where participants are in shared spaces in close proximity for all or most of the program. The visitor policy web page will include additional information and criteria to guide departments and programs in applying this and other aspects of managing and hosting visitors this coming academic year.
- Campus Tours: Please note that participants on campus tours are considered limited-duration visitors. Campus tours through the Office of College Admission will resume in September. Campus tour participants will be instructed upon registration that masks are not required for vaccinated individuals and must be worn by unvaccinated individuals.
7. ATHLETICS AND RECREATION
- Access to Facilities: As previously communicated, access to recreation facilities — including the Nelson Fitness Center and Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center — will continue to increase over the summer, including recently announced access for faculty and staff. All facilities will be accessible at full and normal capacity by the beginning of the fall semester.
- Athletics Competition: While intercollegiate competitions are subject to the rules and regulations of the Ivy League, the NCAA and other sports conferences, the University is prepared to host competitions without limitations or restrictions, including normal attendance by spectators, in the fall season.
The return to normal operations will be a transition process, and we understand that the guidance provided in this message may raise additional questions and issues that need to be considered and resolved. Please send me questions, suggestions and concerns, and we will continue to refine our guidance and information over the course of the summer to ensure a successful fall semester.
Thank you for your continued commitment to the health and safety of the campus and surrounding community, and your patience and understanding as we work together toward the next academic year.
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy