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Brown outlines policies for return to normal

Asymptomatic testing, all gathering limits to be removed

The University will drop nearly all pandemic-related restrictions by the fall semester or sooner, assuming near-universal vaccination rates on campus, Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA ’06 wrote in a Wednesday email to the University community. 

Several COVID-19-related precautions that have defined the past year of pandemic schooling will no longer be required for vaccinated students, including masking, routine asymptomatic testing and any gathering limits. 

The announcement by Carey adds specifics to President Christina Paxson P’19’s assertion in April that “Fall 2021 at Brown will look and feel much more like Fall 2019 than Fall 2020,” and expands on the changes the University made in May to its COVID-19 guidelines, including reduced routine testing requirements, loosened masking rules and a lift on travel restrictions. Taken as a whole, the new guidance outlined by Carey paints a picture of a semester with normal academic and recreational life.

The normalcy of the upcoming fall semester hinges on a student and employee vaccination rate of 90 percent or above, as well as community COVID-19 cases remaining low, Carey wrote. But because the group of students and employees currently on campus are “on track to achieve the target vaccination rate for the community by early July,” he added, the University expects the new guidance outlined in the email to become effective next month.

In July and August, the University plans to remove fully vaccinated people from the routine testing program, though unvaccinated community members will still have to be tested once per week. By the end of August, the University will dissolve the routine asymptomatic testing program, Carey wrote. He added that symptomatic testing will be available through University Health Services, and that the University is exploring “smaller-scale … asymptomatic testing to assess the effectiveness of vaccines and protect against possible variants of COVID-19.”

Once the University has reached its vaccination threshold, vaccinated individuals will not be required to wear a mask indoors or outdoors, except while riding campus shuttles or visiting health services and COVID-19 testing sites. 

Community members who are not yet fully vaccinated or who have opted out of vaccination for health or religious reasons will still have to wear masks indoors when around others and outdoors when unable to social distance, Carey wrote.

Carey implored community members not to ask others about their vaccination status or why they are wearing a mask. “While it’s natural to wonder if a colleague has been vaccinated, issues of health are private,” Carey wrote. 

There will be no restrictions on class sizes, and libraries, laboratories and other academic settings will return to pre-pandemic capacity limits with no reservations required.

Athletics will resume to the extent allowable by sports conference rules. “The University is prepared to host competitions without limitations or restrictions, including normal attendance by spectators, in the fall season,” Carey wrote.

Access to athletic and recreational facilities will continue to increase during the summer semester, Carey wrote. These facilities will return to pre-pandemic capacity by the beginning of the fall semester.

After Aug. 15, “there will be no restrictions on events of any type, gatherings or performances, including no limits on attendance/audience (other than fire code and other non-pandemic related restrictions), and no limitations on event visitors and guests,” Carey wrote.

The University will allow visitors and guests on campus after Aug. 15 without specific permissions, though different lengths of visits will be governed by different rules. Long-term (staying for a semester or more) and short-term (four full days over the course of a month or more) visitors will have to be vaccinated and exemptions will not be considered, Carey wrote.

Limited-duration visitors (visits of three days per month or less) will not be required to show evidence of vaccination under most circumstances, but unvaccinated visitors will be required to wear masks at all times. Limited-duration visitors include prospective students and attendees of lectures or performances.


Ben Glickman

Ben Glickman is the 132nd editor-in-chief and president of The Brown Daily Herald. He previously served as a metro editor and oversaw the College Hill and Fox Point beat, in addition to writing and editing about city politics, COVID-19 and the 2020 election. He is the co-creator of the Bruno Brief, The Herald's first news podcast. In his free time, he is passionate about birds (also tweeting) and eating way too spicy food. 

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