September 14, 2021
Richard M. Locke, Russell C. Carey and Eric Estes
Tags Grad and Medical Students Faculty and Staff

To Brown Faculty, Staff, Graduate and Medical Students: Forwarding: Clarifying Campus Activity Status Guidance


Dear Brown Faculty, Staff, Graduate and Medical Students,

We are writing to share a communication we have recently sent to all undergraduate students at Brown (see below). As you will read, we are further clarifying the temporary restrictions the University has established in response to the increase in positive asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, primarily among undergraduate students. While these restrictions and the clarifying guidance pertain almost exclusively to undergraduate students and student organizations, we did want to make you aware of the information being communicated to them to help guide your own interactions and engagement with undergraduates. Further, there is guidance here that applies to all members of the community in terms of managing and reducing our personal risk and the risk to others posed by COVID-19, especially given the transmissibility of the Delta variant. The efforts we make together help keep our community safe.
We also wanted to make clear that the restrictions being imposed on student gatherings in settings at higher risk for transmission and increased contacts do not apply to University events, meetings or programs sponsored and hosted by academic and administrative departments. University-hosted events of any size — which are structured, staffed and supervised by academic or administrative units — may continue to be held in compliance with mask protocols. This includes events, programs and meetings with undergraduate students. Departments can continue to plan and host such events, including receptions with food and drink.

As a general consideration, holding such events outside is safer than indoors, and attendees at any indoor events must be fully masked. Food and drink are allowed indoors, but individuals must wear masks at all times except when actively eating or drinking, and attendees should, whenever possible, maintain social distance from others while eating or drinking indoors.
We want to thank you for your ongoing care and vigilance for the health and well-being of the Brown community.


Richard M. Locke
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy

Eric Estes
Vice President, Campus Life

Dear Brown Undergraduate Students,

We are writing to provide more specific Campus Activity Status Guidance, following up on the communication last evening regarding temporary measures to address the increase in positive asymptomatic COVID-19 cases, primarily among undergraduate students. From the outset of this pandemic, our utmost priority has been the safety of our community. The absolute joy we have seen from students laughing together on the College Green, sharing meals at the Refectory, celebrating opportunities to reunite at student activities, and cheering on the sidelines of sporting events is something we all have missed.

The short-term steps we take now can ensure that we don’t lose all that we have gained in recent months through the caring and thoughtful commitment to masking, vaccination and making smart decisions that we have seen from our community. It’s because we care about preserving the student experience that we are implementing short-term COVID-19 restrictions. At the end of this message is a clear list of the activities that are and are not permitted during this period.

First, we want to emphasize three important points:
  1. Our goal is to reduce transmission among undergraduate students and lower the undergraduate student positivity rate. We do not expect, given the transmissibility of the Delta variant, to eliminate COVID-19 on campus. However, the current positivity rate for undergraduate students is higher than it should be given our vaccination rates and the effectiveness of basic public health measures — wearing masks indoors, keeping contacts to a minimum, and avoiding crowded indoor gatherings without masks. Deviation from these effective measures is clearly contributing to the increase in students testing positive that we have seen over the past week. Even in a highly vaccinated community like Brown, positive cases of COVID-19 present risks to the more vulnerable members of our community and negatively impact students who have to isolate for 10 days, and we want to work together to avoid both of those consequences.
  2. The measures we announced yesterday are temporary. We review the public health situation on campus holistically and on an ongoing basis — and therefore don’t have a specific positivity rate that serves as a tipping point in either direction — but if we can lower the incidences of positive test results among undergraduates over the coming weeks, we will remove these temporary restrictions, including reducing the frequency of testing of vaccinated individuals. The experience of many of our peer institutions is instructive; they experienced similar spikes at the beginning of the semester, imposed similar temporary restrictions, and saw their positive rates come back down in a couple of weeks. We hope to accomplish the same here at Brown if we can work together to curb the uptick in cases.
  3. A key to lowering the positivity rate among undergraduates is to lower the number of contacts each individual has. A contact is an individual in close proximity, six feet or less, for 15 minutes or more. The temporary restrictions we announced yesterday and are clarifying further today — including temporarily suspending in-person dining — are designed largely to reduce the number of contacts students have. We understand this is not easy to do, and especially want to acknowledge that the shift to temporary restrictions is difficult. We are grateful for all that our students are doing to help the campus move to the lower levels of infection rates that will make it possible to lift these restrictions.
As you know, we are temporarily increasing the frequency of testing to twice a week (every four days) for undergraduate students. Most of the questions we have received about the other temporary restrictions we announced concern student organizations and events and what is permissible activity by undergraduates. The information below clarifies what is permitted, what is not permitted and what is recommended for undergraduate students and student organizations during this time. We want to particularly note that student organizations are allowed to plan and hold in-person meetings, events and programs subject to masking and other public health regulations, as the following guidance makes clear.


Outdoor activities without masks (if participants are fully vaccinated).


  • Outdoor club sports; individual and group athletics and recreation
  • Student organization meetings, events and programs (To the extent possible holding meetings, events and programs outside is strongly preferred.)
  • Hanging out on campus green spaces with friends

NOTE: Mask wearing by vaccinated individuals may be required at some outdoor events — typically events with crowds and where attendees include individuals from outside the Brown community who may or may not be vaccinated. Examples include spectators at outside athletic competitions and admissions tours. You will be notified by event sponsors and through the event publicity when outdoor masking is required.

Indoor activities with strict mask compliance by all (vaccinated and unvaccinated).


  • Academic classes.
  • Student organization meetings, events and programs when holding these outdoors is not an option
  • Studying or meeting friends in the Campus Center, libraries or other campus spaces.
  • Use of the Nelson Fitness Center and Katherine Moran Coleman Aquatics Center.

Gatherings of more than five students without masks in settings at higher risk for transmission and increased contacts, such as parties and bars.


  • DO NOT attend an indoor party, movie night, or other type of social gathering unmasked with more than 5 students.
  • DO NOT eat or drink indoors in close proximity (without social distancing) with more than 5 students (on campus or off campus).
  • DO wear masks indoors and outdoors when you are in close proximity with other people, especially in settings with people from outside of the Brown community who may or may not be vaccinated.

NOTE: Students who live in residential units (suites or apartments, on or off-campus, with more than 5 students can gather with their apartment/house mates.

  • DO keep the students you socialize with indoors to a small, stable group, i.e. no “social group hopping” among multiple small-group gatherings over the course of a day or short period of time.
  • DO NOT go to indoor bars and restaurants (students who have off-campus employment at such facilities can do so, but should be especially careful to wear masks at all times while at work).
Our shared commitment to keeping each other healthy and safe has sustained us as a Brown community for 18 months. We are seeking to maintain as close to normal operations as we can, while also safeguarding the well-being of all who live, work and learn here. Given the wide variety of activities that take place at Brown and the fluid nature of the pandemic, providing clear and concise guidance that covers every conceivable situation is not feasible. That being said, the Brown community has been exceptional over the past year and a half at keeping ourselves and each other and the surrounding neighborhoods safe by exercising caution, common sense, patience and empathy.

We are confident that Brown students can follow this guidance and take the necessary steps to reduce the risks to themselves and others over the coming days and weeks and, as a result, we will be able to lift these temporary restrictions. Thank you for your continued commitment to each other and to the Brown community.


Richard M. Locke

Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy

Eric Estes
Vice President, Campus Life