Dear Brown Community Members,
Yesterday, we announced several COVID-19 protocol changes that will go into effect on Monday, March 14, including optional testing for undergraduate students and optional indoor mask wearing in most settings for community members who are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccine. Given high campus compliance with vaccination requirements and declining numbers of reported positive test results, we are comfortable making these changes next week. We do want to emphasize, however, that 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. 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.
In regard to test results reported to the University over the last week: From Thursday, March 3, through Wednesday, March 9, 38 students reported positive test results (down 47 from a corrected total of 85 last week). Approximately 31 students are currently in isolation in on-campus or designated isolation housing off-campus (note that the number of students who report positive tests results and the number in isolation will not be the same each week, as students may isolate in their off-campus apartments or at home if they live nearby, and the isolation numbers fluctuate as students begin and end their respective isolation periods). In the same timeframe, 5 employees reported testing positive (down 4 from last week). We also monitor employee absences due to COVID-19 — which can be for a range of reasons, including care of a child or family member or quarantine due to a known exposure — and the number of such absences for the most recent full work week was 4. It is important to note that these numbers represent employee absences reported to University Human Resources and do not necessarily reflect all of the disruptions currently impacting faculty and staff due to K-12 school closures and remote learning, care for a family member, or other challenges to daily routines.
Members of the Brown community can continue to pick-up rapid antigen tests each week through spring recess (the week of Monday, March 28). We will assess public health conditions at that time and make a determination about further availability. Through Wednesday, March 9, we have distributed 39,599 test kits. Operating hours for the test kit pick-up sites can be found on the testing page of the Healthy Brown website:
If you are visiting the test pick-up sites for additional tests and you have recently taken a pack of ten (10) KN95 masks, please leave the masks for others. Each bag of masks is sufficient for most people for about a month.
As previously communicated, rapid antigen tests are becoming increasingly available from the federal government supply as well. Insurance companies are now reimbursing the costs of tests, and tests will be available in the coming weeks at pharmacies and other locations with no out-of-pocket expense. Tests can also be ordered directly at https://www.covidtests.gov/. We encourage all members of the community to take advantage of these resources. Information for employees regarding options through participating insurance carriers can be found on the University Human Resources benefits page:
And information for students participating in the student health insurance plan can be found on the United Healthcare Student Resources website (see the Feb. 11, 2022, updated titled “COVID-19 Home Test Member Reimbursement):
Please feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns. For questions or support regarding the testing program, students can contact the student testing support team (firstname.lastname@example.org), and faculty and staff can contact the employee testing support team (email@example.com).
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy