Dear Brown Community Members,
As we approach the end of the fall semester, we can take collective pride in the efforts of all students, faculty and staff to keep the campus, and the surrounding Providence community of which we are a part, healthy and safe. Universal compliance with our COVID-19 vaccination requirement, frequent testing, and careful adherence to campus safety protocols and public health guidance have all contributed to low positivity rates and good health on campus over the past several months. As we look forward to the winter break amidst increasing cases in Rhode Island and emerging information regarding the Omicron variant, it is clear that we must take additional steps to ensure the spring semester is just as healthy and safe as the fall.
1. COVID-19 Booster Requirement for all Employees and Students
COVID-19 booster shots are essential for individual and community health. Accordingly, we are announcing today that all employees (faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, visiting researchers, lecturers, and seasonal and intermittent staff) and students must receive a COVID-19 booster shot no later than January 26, 2022 (the first day of classes of the spring semester) or within thirty (30) days of becoming eligible. You are eligible for a booster six months after your initial Pfizer or Moderna series or two months after your initial J&J vaccine. Pursuant to CDC guidance, those who have been fully vaccinated outside of the U.S. with a WHO-EUL approved vaccine are eligible for a single booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at least six (6) months after full vaccination. Most members of the Brown community are eligible now, and we are informing the community of this requirement now to provide plenty of time to schedule a booster appointment during the break for those who still need to do so.
If you have already received an approved exemption from a COVID-19 vaccination, you will continue to be exempt from this requirement. If you have not previously received an exemption and wish to request one, information regarding how to do so is available on the COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions page of the Healthy Brown website.
For students, once you receive your booster or if you already have, please upload a copy of your documentation to the Health and Wellness Patient Portal. Directions on how to do so are available on the Verify Your Vaccination web page.
For employees, in January information will be distributed from University Human Resources (UHR) regarding how to submit your updated vaccination card to Workday. Employees should not submit your card until you receive instructions from UHR on how to do so.
2. Spring Semester Pre-Return Testing Requirements
One concerning pattern we have seen during the pandemic is increased positive test results, especially among undergraduate students, upon return to campus after a break. In order to reduce the health risks and academic disruptions posed by such increases, we are requiring that all undergraduate students take a COVID-19 test at home or wherever they may be two (2) days prior to returning to campus after the break. Testing is widely available and free in most areas. Students who may need assistance in obtaining a test can contact Student Support Services at firstname.lastname@example.org (but must do so well in advance of their scheduled return). Students who receive a negative result may return to campus as scheduled; students who receive a positive result must isolate at home and contact University Health Services before being authorized to return to campus.
We strongly encourage other members of the community who may travel away from Providence over the holidays or in January to test before they return to campus.
While testing requirements at the beginning of the spring semester will be determined based on the public health conditions at that time, all undergraduate students should expect at a minimum to be required to test twice the first week back, similar to what we did following the Thanksgiving recess. Further information about on-campus testing protocols upon return from Winter Break and after will be communicated as we get closer to that date.
3. Continued Importance of Indoor Mask Wearing
Mask wearing remains one of the simplest and most effective ways to protect ourselves and others from virus spread, and mask wearing indoors continues to be required in all Brown University buildings. All members of the community must adhere rigorously to the mask wearing requirements. In particular, please be respectful of and cooperate with staff in settings like the University Library, Stephen Robert ‘62 Campus Center, Dining Services and elsewhere when they may need to remind you from time to time to wear your mask inside those facilities.
We understand the fatigue that has developed around the pandemic and the continued necessity of health and safety measures. The virus, unfortunately, does not care about our fatigue and continued vigilance is required. The good news is that vaccines, boosters, advances in treatment, and basic common sense public health measures are highly effective at preventing this disease, and we enter 2022 in a profoundly different place than at the beginning of this pandemic. Working together we can ensure that the spring semester at Brown is a great — and safe — success.
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy
Vice President for Campus Life