Fifteen students and 29 employees reported positive COVID-19 test results on campus from Jan. 15 to 19, and approximately seven students are currently in isolation in on-campus or designated off-campus housing, according to a Jan. 21 Today@Brown announcement.
“Even as we did increase numbers due to Omicron, the presentation (of positive cases) has stayed very consistent: mild to no symptoms, no reports of serious illness, no reports of hospitalization and no reports of any substantial transmission on campus,” Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA’06 told The Herald.
The number of students in University-designated isolation housing may not exactly reflect the number of students testing positive, as some students — specifically those in single rooms in residential housing, single rooms within a suite, in a double room with a roommate if both students test positive or private off-campus housing — may be isolating in their private residences, the announcement explains.
In the last full work week, there were 36 employee absences related to COVID-19, due to factors ranging from care of a child or family member to quarantine due to a known exposure, according to the announcement.
“As we add more people to the community … we would assume that there will be positive test results and given what we've seen at other institutions, those could be large numbers,” Carey said. But the University has “very strong preparation in campus life, health services and dining to support potentially larger numbers of students in the near term who may need to isolate,” he added.
Following the switch to rapid antigen self-testing, the University distributed testing kits and KN95 masks to 3,615 people between Jan. 17 and Jan. 20, according to the Today@Brown announcement.
Now that tests can be ordered online directly from the federal government and can be reimbursed by insurance policies, the University is encouraging employees, graduate and medical students — for whom testing is still optional — “to take advantage of that avenue” to get tests, Carey said.
“We have enough supply of tests,” Carey said. For undergraduates, “we will absolutely make sure they have access to two tests a week as long as that testing requirement stays in place,” he added. Students will not be allowed to test more than twice per week.
The University will be hosting another COVID-19 booster clinic offering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines in the multipurpose room of the Health and Wellness Center Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to a Jan. 19 Today@Brown announcement. Students can register for the clinic in order to receive a booster.
Starting Jan. 22, Andrews Dining Hall will be the designated location for students in isolation to pick up grab-and-go meals and essential supplies such as course materials and prescriptions, according to a Jan. 21 email from Brown Dining Services to the University community.
All other dining facilities will have a staggered reopening and modified hours. The Sharpe Refectory will reopen Jan. 22 and operate from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily. Josiah’s will also reopen Jan. 22 and will operate from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. daily. The Ivy Room will reopen for dinner Jan. 23 and operate from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Starting Jan. 24, the Ivy Room will offer lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday each week.
Blue Room, SOE Cafe, Gourmet to Go and Verney-Wooley will reopen only on weekdays beginning Jan. 24, with Blue Room open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., SOE Cafe open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Gourmet to Go open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Verney-Woolley open from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“We'll be watching … reported positives and our ability to support those students, not just in terms of isolation capacity, but food, mental health support, academic support … and then adjusting as we need to,” Carey said.