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Testing kit, mask pick-up to continue through end of semester

Masking, contact tracing eliminated for participants in research studies on campus

<p>The University also updated their human subjects research guidance to eliminate contact tracing and masking requirements for fully-vaccinated participants in research studies on campus.</p>

The University also updated their human subjects research guidance to eliminate contact tracing and masking requirements for fully-vaccinated participants in research studies on campus.

Twenty-two students reported positive COVID-19 test results and approximately 24 students were in designated on-campus or off-campus isolation housing during the week of March 10 to 16, according to a March 18 Today@Brown announcement. Six employees reported positive COVID-19 results in the same time frame.

Testing for COVID-19 became optional for fully-vaccinated undergraduate students starting March 14, while testing for fully-vaccinated faculty, staff and graduate students has been optional since the beginning of the semester, The Herald previously reported. The University is not tracking the number of students or employees who choose to continue testing, according to Executive Vice President for Planning and Policy Russell Carey ’91 MA’06.

“We do keep a very close eye on how many tests get distributed … but in terms of (whether) people are taking tests … we don't know unless they report a positive test result,” Carey said.

After April 1, the University will close the One Davol Square testing center and consolidate distribution of rapid antigen testing kits and KN95 masks at Alumnae Hall, according to the announcement.

Tests and masks will continue to be made available to the community through the end of the semester, according to the announcement. The University wants “to give people some assurance and a little bit of peace of mind that we're not taking (them) away,” Carey said.

The University also updated its guidance on COVID-19 and human subjects research to eliminate contact tracing and masking requirements for fully-vaccinated participants in research studies on campus, according to a separate March 18 Today@Brown announcement. Principal investigators can still mandate masking for participants and researchers if necessary for specific studies.

The Institutional Review Board — a research ethics board that reviews study procedures — is also no longer required to issue exceptions for procedures that involve entering research participants’ homes, according to the announcement.

“Research is one of the first things we resumed (and) some research never stopped during the pandemic,” Carey said. But “there is a range of different things that happen in research, (and) a variety of activities that involve interpersonal contact and people needing to do things with or without masks.”

Carey added that the University “adjusted and developed policies and processes specific to research to both allow research to continue and allow it to continue safely.”

Reporting by Haley Sandlow.



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