Dear Members of the Brown Community,
As the status of the public health emergency related to COVID-19 has evolved over the past three years, Brown’s decisions about policies and protocols related to vaccinations and masking have been driven by public health guidance and medical expertise. Our top priority continues to be the health and well-being of our community.
Aligned with the federal government’s end of the national public health emergency for COVID-19, which takes effect today, May 11, we write to share updates on health protocols and policies for our University community, and to reiterate our commitment to the health of all who live, work, study and visit Brown. This communication addresses guidance for the following:
- Change in the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for most faculty, staff, students and visitors
- Ongoing requirement for vaccinations and boosters for Warren Alpert Medical School programs
- Ongoing mask-optional protocol, except in settings where faculty, staff or clinicians require masking
- New mask-optional status for the Health and Wellness Center, as well as availability of masks for clinicians and students
- Resources and related links
UPDATED COVID-19 VACCINATION GUIDANCE
Effective June 1, 2023, Brown will no longer require the COVID-19 vaccination for faculty, staff, students or visitors. However, we strongly recommend that individuals obtain the primary vaccine series and stay updated with bivalent COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Staying up to date with boosters is particularly important for individuals over the age of 65 and those who may be moderately or severely immunocompromised, though all ages can benefit from the protections boosters provide. Brown will continue to support students in accessing vaccinations, including through our free vaccine clinics on campus.
In making the decision to end the vaccination requirement, Brown joins its peer colleges and universities in relying on expert guidance. Public health experts have determined that locally and nationally, populations have achieved high rates of immunity and low levels of transmission due to both vaccine-based immunity and previous exposure to COVID-19. The protection offered by the original COVID-19 vaccine series has diminished over time along with the emergence of new variants. Schedules for the bivalent booster now are tailored to each individual's healthcare needs. Because everyone's health situation is different — based on a combination of past exposure and their booster schedule — a policy of universal vaccination no longer offers the same benefits it did early in the pandemic.
This change in vaccination requirements aligns with guidance from the CDC and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), and follows President Biden’s signing of legislation on April 10, 2023, to end the national emergency for COVID-19. The World Health Organization likewise at its May 4, 2023, meeting issued a statement determining that COVID-19 “no longer constitutes a public health emergency of international concern."
WARREN ALPERT MEDICAL SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS
Please note that the initial vaccine series and booster will continue to be required for Warren Alpert Medical School, Gateways, and Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) students prior to their matriculation at the medical school, as these groups spend a significant amount of time in clinical settings where full vaccination continues to be required.
MASKING GUIDANCE AND AVAILABILITY
Masks will remain optional on Brown’s campus, except in settings where faculty, staff or clinicians require masking. This includes medical settings and during appointments with clinicians who request masking at their discretion, as well as classes, labs or meetings with individual faculty, staff or student instructors who may choose to require that attendees wear a mask.
Beginning on June 1, the Health & Wellness Center will no longer require masks and will adopt a mask-optional policy. Masks are recommended when an individual has active respiratory symptoms (e.g. fever, runny nose, cough, sore throat), or if they are not up to date with vaccinations and have had a recent close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This approach follows CDC recommendations and is consistent with policies in healthcare facilities in Rhode Island and the surrounding area.
The Health & Wellness Center will continue to have masks available for clinicians and students to wear during appointments, and Health Services providers will be able to conduct COVID-19 tests on-site if clinically indicated. In addition, faculty, staff and students are encouraged to maintain a personal supply of masks and tests in the event of COVID-19 exposure or to self-test if experiencing symptoms. These health supplies continue to be readily available at local markets and pharmacies.
As has been the case throughout the pandemic, Brown may update these vaccination and masking protocols if there is a change in public health circumstances and/or updated guidance from health and medical experts. The Healthy.Brown.edu website continues to be a resource for the most up-to-date information about Brown policies and protocols. We also invite you to take advantage of the resources provided in the Resources and Related Links section below.
We have been grateful throughout this pandemic for the myriad ways our community has adapted to change and demonstrated care and support for one another. We wish everyone a healthy and enjoyable summer.
Vice President for Human Resources
Vice President for Campus Life
Dr. Vanessa Britto, MD
Associate Vice President for Campus Life
Executive Director of Health and Wellness
RESOURCES AND RELATED LINKS
- Healthy Brown website: https://healthy.brown.edu
- Brown University Health Services: https://healthservices.brown.edu or 401-863-3953
- Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH): https://covid.ri.gov
- CDC overview of COVID-19 vaccines (November 1, 2022): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/overview-COVID-19-vaccines.html
- CDC simplified COVID-19 vaccine recommendations (April 19, 2023): https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2023/s0419-covid-vaccines.html
- CDC’s recommendations for healthcare personnel (September 23, 2022): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/infection-control-recommendations.html