Dear Brown Community Members,
For more than a year, we have been looking forward to the day when we can gather in-person without masks and social distancing, and reduce or eliminate the need for routine testing for COVID-19. Although that day is not here yet, strong evidence that the authorized vaccines for COVID-19 are safe and effective gives us optimism that it is not far off, especially given that vaccines are now readily available in Rhode Island.
Based on discussions with Brown’s public health and medical experts, it is clear that our priority should be to achieve near-universal levels of vaccination — 90% or greater — in the Brown community. People who are vaccinated are much less likely to get COVID-19. They are also less likely to become seriously ill or spread the illness to others if they do contract the virus. For these reasons, the sooner we can achieve near-universal vaccination, the sooner we’ll be able to lift public health restrictions on campus and return to a more normal environment for teaching and research, with full confidence that the health of the community is being protected.
In order to achieve near-universal vaccination, we are requiring all Brown employees to receive the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July 1, 2021. In addition, we are also requiring all Brown students who are engaged in on-campus activities this summer (education, jobs, research, or engaging in any in-person education or work with other Brown employees, students or visitors) to receive the final dose of their COVID-19 vaccine by July 1, 2021. As we announced previously, for the Fall 2021 semester, Brown will require COVID-19 vaccines for all students who will be on campus or engage in any level of in-person instruction, whether in the U.S. or abroad.
For students who are engaged in on-campus activities this summer, the July 1 deadline is an acceleration of the timeline communicated in April that called for all students to be vaccinated by the fall semester. Given the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in Rhode Island, the earlier deadline is now achievable.
For employees, this does not mean that currently remote employees will be expected to return to campus or other Brown premises by July 1. However, the knowledge that all employees are vaccinated by July 1 will make it possible for employees to return to campus at the appropriate time with the confidence that their health and the health of their co-workers will be protected. As we shared last month, we hope that widespread COVID-19 vaccination and sustained low levels of transmission of the virus will allow remote employees to work on-site by mid-August, in time for the start of the fall semester, although it remains too early to set a specific date. A working group is developing plans for the transition of remote employees to in-person work.
For both students and employees, medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement will be granted and reasonable accommodations provided under applicable law.
Implementing the Requirement for Faculty, Staff and Students
To provide an ongoing resource to the Brown community, we have developed detailed information about the COVID-19 vaccine requirement and answers to frequently asked questions in the Vaccine FAQ on the Healthy Brown website. Among the many topics addressed by the FAQ:
- The role of high vaccination rates in keeping the community safe
- Authorized vaccinations for Brown community members in the U.S. and abroad
- Requesting an exemption to the vaccine requirement on medical or religious grounds
- Outcomes for employees and students who do not obtain a medical or religious exemption approved by Brown with a reasonable accommodation but do not adhere to the vaccination requirement
- Reduced quarantine and easing of restrictions for vaccinated employees and students
- General information about the efficacy and safety of various vaccines, their availability for U.S. and international Brown community members, and other details about the administration of COVID-19 vaccines
Verifying Vaccination Status
All current Brown employees (faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, visiting researchers, lecturers, and seasonal and intermittent staff, full- and part-time) must upload their vaccination card to Workday by July 1, 2021. New Brown employees who are hired after July 1, 2021, must be vaccinated before they begin work, unless they are approved for a medical or religious exemption.
All students who are here this summer should get vaccinated and upload their card to the Health and Wellness Portal no later than July 1, 2021. Students who return for the fall term must be vaccinated before they return to campus or engage in any level of in-person activity or instruction. Special arrangements to get vaccinated in Rhode Island will be made for international students who don’t have access to vaccines in their home countries.
We expect that many members of the Brown community have already complied with these requirements but have not yet uploaded their vaccination cards – please do so immediately. Employees and students can find more information and instructions about verifying vaccination status on Healthy.Brown.edu.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to provide information and support for getting vaccinated. In parallel, members of the administration are working on revising the COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy and planning for continually increasing levels of campus activity in the coming summer months. How much we are able to do so depends entirely on our community getting vaccinated and documenting their vaccination in the coming weeks.
Thank you for your support and cooperation as we move toward the latter stages of a pandemic that has caused so much disruption and loss. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our priority has been to protect the safety of the Brown community. The single best way we can protect ourselves and each other is to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
Christina H. Paxson