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COVID-19 testing, masking policies largely unchanged as new academic year begins

As students arrive on campus, they will have to take COVID-19 test before returning to College Hill

Masks, which became optional in most locations on campus in the spring, will not be required except in certain locations, such as health care facilities or classrooms when required by an instructor.
Masks, which became optional in most locations on campus in the spring, will not be required except in certain locations, such as health care facilities or classrooms when required by an instructor.

Routine testing and masking in most settings will remain optional for the fall semester, as University COVID-19 protocols remain largely unchanged from the spring.

With the start of the fall semester approaching and students returning to campus in the coming days, Vice President for Campus Life Eric Estes and Associate Vice President for Health and Wellness Vanessa Britto outlined COVID-19 protocols in a community-wide email announcement Aug. 8. 

There are “no significant new COVID-19 measures or major changes to current University operations expected for the start of the new academic year,” Estes and Britto wrote.

Like in the spring semester, students are required to take a COVID-19 test 24 to 36 hours prior to traveling back to campus. But students will not have to test once they arrive on campus, as routine testing remains optional.

Masks, which became optional in most locations on campus in the spring, will not be required except in certain locations, such as health care facilities or classrooms when required by an instructor. The University briefly reinstated the indoor mask mandate in May before Commencement and Reunion Weekend, but dropped the requirement days later.

Students who test positive before arriving on campus must report their results to Health Services and isolate at home for five days after they received a positive test result or their first day of symptoms.

Community members who test positive once on campus will also be required to self-isolate for five days. Though routine testing is optional, students should test themselves if they experience COVID-19 symptoms, the announcement advised.

Students in on-campus housing will still be required to self-isolate in their residence halls if they test positive, while roommates or suitemates who test negative can “remain in their rooms or stay with a friend or family member who may be in the area,” according to the announcement. 

Students can end isolation without a negative rapid antigen test after five full days if they are fever-free for 24 hours and experience improvements in their symptoms, but are advised to wear a well-fitting mask around others for five additional days.

Grab-and-go meals from Brown Dining Services will be available to self-isolating students registered with a meal plan.

KN95 masks and COVID-19 test kits will continue to be provided on campus at the Key Office in Grade Center E, which is open 24/7. The announcement noted that the University expects these items to be available through the entire semester.

All community members are still required to remain up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations, including receiving a booster shot “no later than the start of fall semester classes or within 30 days of becoming eligible,” and submitting booster documentation to the Health and Wellness Patient Portal, according to the announcement.



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