Dear Brown Community Members,
As numbers of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue to decline in Rhode Island, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that every county in the state is classified at the Low COVID-19 Community Level. At Brown the number of positive test results reported by students, faculty and staff have also continued to decline. The cases we are seeing are generally characterized by no to moderate symptoms, and over the seven weeks of the semester to date we have had no instances of hospitalization, severe illness, clusters or outbreaks. The high rate of Brown community members documenting that they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines have been critical to this progress, and we are comfortable now making further changes to COVID-19 protocols on campus.
Accordingly, effective Monday, March 14, the following protocols will be in place:
Optional undergraduate testing: Asymptomatic testing will be optional for undergraduate students who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines. Asymptomatic testing remains optional for graduate and medical students and faculty and staff who are up to date. As noted below, previous testing requirements also remain in place for members of the community with approved exemptions from vaccination.
Optional mask wearing, with noted exceptions: Indoor mask wearing will be optional for individuals who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines in most settings on campus with the following exceptions, where masking will continue to be required:
- Healthcare facilities, including the Health & Wellness Center;
- The Warren Alpert Medical School;
- Brown University Shuttles;
- Classes where the instructor requires students to wear masks; and
- Meetings where the host requires attendees to wear masks (for example, a staff member meeting with a student in their office may require the student to wear a mask during the meeting).
Required testing after spring break travel: Individuals planning to travel over the spring recess (March 26 - April 3) must take a rapid antigen test on the first day you return to campus (day 1) and a second test two days later (day 3). During the week of March 21, community members will be able to pick-up four (4) rapid tests at the test pick-up sites in order to be ready for spring break. See the Healthy Brown website for test pick-up sites and hours.
Required reporting of positive test results: Members of the community must continue to report positive test results to University Health Services (students) and University Human Resources (faculty, staff and post-docs).
Continued testing and masking for individuals with approved exemptions: Members of the community with approved exemptions from vaccination must continue to test twice per week (every 4 days) and wear masks indoors.
Recommended testing with symptoms or exposure: With testing now being optional for everyone who is up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines, we encourage Brown community members to take a test:
- when they have symptoms;
- when they are in an elevated risk situation, such as due to recent travel, gatherings, or a known exposure to someone who has tested positive for Covid; or
- when they plan to be in a situation that may expose others, such as before traveling, attending large gatherings, or interacting with those who are at elevated risk of severe Covid.
Carrying an approved mask at all times and respecting personal choices: Brown community members should continue to carry a well-fitting KN95, KF94, N95 or disposable/surgical mask at all times in case a situation arises where a mask is required (such as a host’s preference at a meeting or other situation listed above). We also encourage all students, staff and faculty to wear a mask whenever you choose to do so 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.
The continued diligence of the community in masking, reporting their vaccination status and participating in testing requirements up to this point has continued to allow Brown to ease restrictions as the CDC and the state report improved health conditions in Providence and Rhode Island. The updated protocols in this letter will be updated on the Healthy Brown website when they take effect Monday. As always, thank you for the shared commitment to the health of our community.
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy