The University will reopen indoor dining Friday following a drop in COVID-19 cases among students, after temporarily moving to take-out only dining in response to a spike, according to a Wednesday evening email from Russell Carey ’91 MA’06, executive vice president for planning and policy.
The other temporary restrictions that were imposed after the asymptomatic testing program reported 82 positive cases the week of Sept. 13 — including increased testing frequency for vaccinated students and stricter capacity limits for social gatherings — will remain in place for the time being, according to Carey, though the administration will continue to monitor the status of COVID-19 on campus.
The decision to reopen indoor dining followed a “significant decline in both the absolute number and the rate of positive asymptomatic COVID-19 cases on campus compared to the first few weeks of the semester,” Carey wrote.
Carey also cited the increased waste produced by to-go meals as one impetus for returning to in-person dining in a Wednesday interview with The Herald.
The past seven days have seen a decline in cases, with the asymptomatic testing program reporting 27 positive tests and a test positivity rate of 0.2%, according to the Healthy Brown COVID-19 Dashboard.
“As members of the community know well by now, the pandemic and its impact on the Brown campus is a fluid and dynamic situation, and from time to time restrictions may need to be re-implemented as well as loosened,” Carey wrote.
Carey previously told The Herald that the University does not have a threshold for imposing or removing restrictions. “It is an ongoing holistic review, … and if those (cases) come back down, … we feel confident that we’ll be able to go back to where we were,” he said.
The University modeled its policy approach on peer institutions such as Cornell and Duke University, which have also tightened restrictions in response to rising cases, Carey previously told The Herald. Carey predicted, at the time, that “most likely this will be a momentary increase (in cases). It will come back down, and we’ll be able to release those restrictions, and we hope to be able to do that soon.”
“We deeply appreciate the strong cooperation from students, faculty and staff in adhering to these health and safety measures and doing their part to ensure the well-being of our community,” Carey wrote. “It is thanks to your efforts that we’re now able to lift the pause on in-person dining, and we look forward to reducing other limitations as soon as public health conditions allow.”
With additional reporting by Gabby Vulakh