Following up on updated University COVID plans

August 6, 2021

Dear SPH Staff, Faculty, and Postdocs,

We are writing to follow up on President Paxson’s email earlier this week and hopefully clarify some of the return-to-campus plans as they relate specifically to SPH. We also want to reiterate our sincere appreciation for your patience as we navigate the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic together.

First, we quickly want to highlight a couple of the new updates that will impact us all as Brown employees. As stated in President Paxson’s email:

  1. All individuals – regardless of vaccination status – must wear masks indoors, unless in a private, non-shared space (e.g., office) or when actively eating. In addition, social distancing of at least three feet must be maintained when unmasked. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear a mask outdoors when social distancing of at least three feet is not possible.
  2. Vaccinated individuals are now required to be tested once a week (every 7 days), and unvaccinated individuals must be tested twice per week (every 4 days).
  3. Guidance regarding mask wearing by instructors in classrooms will be provided as we get closer to the first day of classes on September 8.

These changes were made due to concerns about the Delta variant, though we are fortunate to have such a high vaccination rate that further restrictions are not necessary at this time. While the fluidity of these guidelines may cause some frustration, please understand that Brown must be mindful and adapt to the changing circumstances of the pandemic. We applaud the University’s proactive decision-making to help keep our community safe.

Next, we would like to address what President Paxson’s announcement means for our School’s return-to-campus plans, particularly in light of the space challenges we are already facing. Our team is well aware that space has been an additional source of stress for our community, and we completely understand. We are here to support you as we phase back into onsite work. With that being said, we’d like to lay out the following recommendations for SPH employees:

  • We encourage you to follow the new phased timeline in President Paxson’s email as closely as possible based on how much of your role involves direct student support. Please work with your center administrator to confirm the appropriate timing given your role and departmental planning. As a reminder:
    • Monday, August 16: Employees and offices actively engaged in supporting the student experience, student move-in, peer leader training, pre-orientation and orientation programs, varsity athletic pre-season activities, etc. will be expected to return in-person by this date.
    • Wednesday, September 1: Faculty and academic staff actively engaged in academic advising and support for new students during orientation (Advising Day is Friday, September 3, 2021) will be expected to return in-person by this date.
    • Wednesday, September 8: Faculty and academic staff actively engaged in teaching will be expected to return in-person by this date (first day of classes).
    • Monday, September 13: All other employees and administrative offices will be expected to return in-person by this date.
  • We ask that as many employees as possible seek to follow a hybrid work model as your role allows. As many of you are aware, we are asking a large portion of staff to share office space. While the initial plan was to let people work together in shared offices, due to the Delta variant and new University policies, we ask that all staff work with their officemates and managers to develop an Alternative Work Assignment (AWA) so that no more than one employee works in a single office space at the same time. Managers and admins have been made aware of this request and can help accommodate a plan that is most suitable for your particular schedule and situation, as well as assist you in completing the AWA submission process in Workday.

We again want to express our appreciation for your patience as we continue to cope with our space challenges, which have been compounded by the pandemic. Please reach out to your managers with any questions or concerns, and our team will also be available to assist.

In closing — and at the risk of sounding repetitive — we’d like to again thank you for your exemplary patience and dedication throughout this pandemic. It has caused so many burdens for so many people, and yet you all continue to advance public health when it is needed most across the globe. We cannot be prouder of your work and how the SPH community has responded to go above and beyond the call of duty. We hope to see many of you in person soon and will keep you apprised of any further developments as they relate to our School’s reopening.

Sincerely,

Ashish K. Jha, MD, MPH
Dean, School of Public Health

Sara Walsh
Executive Dean of Finance and Administration