The University reduced its required COVID-19 testing frequency to once per week for fully vaccinated undergraduates and made testing optional for fully vaccinated employees, graduate and medical students, Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA’06 announced in a community-wide email Wednesday. Unvaccinated students and employees are still required to get tested every four days.
The decision to reduce testing frequency on campus comes just one day after President Christina Paxson P’19 discussed plans to adjust COVID-19 testing on campus during Tuesday’s faculty meeting, noting the gradual decline in positive cases on campus following a peak in cases in early September and the financial cost of the program.
“With these updates to testing frequency and requirements, the University continues to go beyond the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends that … institutions of higher education where everyone is vaccinated … do not need to undergo asymptomatic COVID-19 screening testing,” Carey wrote in today’s announcement.
In July, the University removed fully vaccinated community members from its mandatory COVID-19 testing program on campus and lifted restrictions on indoor mask wearing and domestic travel for fully vaccinated community members. But “in response to the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19,” many public health measures were readopted on campus in August, and the University reverted its routine asymptomatic testing requirement to once per four days for students, Carey noted in the email.
Since the reimplementation of these policies and procedures, “we are (now) in a position to reduce the frequency of asymptomatic testing,” Carey wrote, “given the diligence of the Brown community in following public health guidance.”
“Across all constituencies testing positive, the general experience has been mild, if any, symptoms and no severe illness or hospitalization,” Carey added. “The experience of the past two months at Brown is what we expect in a community where vaccination levels are nearly universal — low positivity rates, mild symptomatic cases, no severe illness or hospitalization and no widespread community transmission of the virus.”
Carey noted that additional changes to public health procedures on campus will be communicated directly to the Brown community and can also be found on the University’s Campus Activity Status webpage.