Brown Workforce, COVID-19

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May 18, 2020

Extension of Telecommuting

As President Paxson wrote earlier this month, most employees working remotely will continue to do so through the summer. Accordingly, we are extending telecommuting through the end of summer hours, August 14, 2020. Supervisors should continue to manage schedules with their employees based on the nature of their job assignments. As the University established in March, only personnel whose work (1) has been identified as essential onsite or essential-special or (2) is part of laboratory-based research that is approved under the process referenced below should report to work in person. All other employees who can telecommute are expected to continue doing so.

We recognize that given the very real economic impact that COVID-19 has had on the local and global economy, as well as on Brown, members of our community are concerned about their economic security. We remain deeply committed to our community, and want to offer the assurance that although it is impossible to make promises in this time of great uncertainty, the University is not currently planning any COVID-associated layoffs; they will be avoided to the best extent practicable.


The University has established the COVID-19 Workplace Safety Policy. This policy applies to all faculty, staff and students, and all members of the community are expected to become familiar and comply with it at all times. No member of the community will be able to return to campus, or continue to be on campus in the case of personnel already performing on-site essential work, until they have completed and signed an employee acknowledgment (available via Workday and directly through University Human Resources for those with limited Workday access). The acknowledgment affirms employees’ understanding and acceptance of the policy.

It will be especially important for chairs, directors and managers to be familiar with the policy both to guide academic and administrative unit-based plans (which leaders of units will be notified to prepare and submit), and to model appropriate public health behavior for faculty, staff and students. Our collective health, safety and ability to carry out our academic mission will be a function of individual choices over the coming months and beyond, and we will have to work together to make prioritizing each other’s health a reflexive habit.

While all community members need to review the policy in full, several critical elements underscore that the daily operations and environment of faculty, staff and others approved to be on campus will be affected, and in some cases constrained, by current public health guidance. This includes the following requirements:

  • Protective face wear: All individuals approved to work on campus will wear masks or cloth face coverings (University-provided or self-provided) unless they can easily, continuously, and measurably maintain at least six feet of distance from others.
  • Social distancing: Maintaining a distance of six feet or more will be the norm, and conference rooms, kitchens, and other shared common spaces will, with limited exceptions, be closed.
  • Virtual meetings: Most meetings will need to continue to be virtual, even for those who have returned to campus. In rare instances where meetings cannot be virtual, face coverings and adequate space to ensure social distancing will be required.
  • Cleaning: While University cleaning and disinfecting will be increased, individuals will also be responsible for using provided supplies to clean and sanitize their work areas, shared equipment and other surfaces.
  • Other personal responsibilities: Consistent with the state’s public health guidelines, the expectation will be that individuals will keep their network of contacts to a minimum, maintain contact logs, and will follow all guidance from the University and the State of Rhode Island regarding what to do if one feels sick, exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, or has interacted with someone who has tested positive. This includes participating in testing, contact tracing, and quarantine or isolation protocols as prescribed and administered by the Rhode Island Department of Health and individuals’ health care providers.

We understand that many in our community are becoming accustomed to these new, required ways of living and working, and this policy makes clear what to expect as we return to campus under conditions designed to promote overall health and safety.

Richard M. Locke, Provost
Barbara Chernow, Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration

This text has been extracted from the full announcement

April 14, 2020

Dear Brown Employees,

As we begin our fifth week of reduced in-person campus operations, we continue to receive updates from health experts regarding risks associated with the spread of COVID-19. At this time, there has been no change to current guidance from state officials or health experts for businesses to resume operations or for schools to reopen. Therefore, we are extending Brown’s current work policies for reducing on-campus operations at least through May 29, 2020.

Supervisors should continue to manage schedules with their employees based on the nature of their job assignments. As the University established last month, only personnel whose work has been identified as essential to be performed in person should report to work in person, while all other employees who can telecommute are expected to do so.

It’s important to plan for the possibility that the May 29 date may change as the University receives more information about health and safety conditions. If guidance from either state officials or health experts changes to allow for the resumption of business operations or for schools to reopen sooner than May 29, the University will assess whether or not to end reduced in-person campus operations sooner than May 29.

We want to thank all who work at Brown for your continued commitment and dedication to serving our community during this uncertain time. We must also continue to express our deep appreciation to our employees who are reporting to work to deliver essential services, as well as the supervisors who continue to manage work schedules to protect the health and safety needs of our employees.

Thank you for all that you are doing every day.


Richard M. Locke, Provost
Barbara Chernow, Executive Vice President for Finance & Administration