In light of COVID-19, Brown transitions to remote learning for semester

The University implements new measures to protect the health and well-being of its community while enabling students to complete the spring semester.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — With the impact of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) expanding across the globe, Brown University is implementing new measures to protect the health and well-being of its community while enabling students to complete the spring semester.

Effective March 30, Brown will move academic instruction for all undergraduate and graduate students to remote learning. Undergraduates who live on campus must vacate residences by March 22 and complete the semester from their homes or at an alternate location.

Classes will be cancelled for the week of March 16 so Brown faculty can fully transition courses to remote learning formats and students have time to pack and arrange for travel.

Brown President Christina H. Paxson detailed those measures and other actions in response to the COVID-19 global health emergency in a March 12 letter to the campus community.

“Our first priority is to protect the health of our students and employees,” Paxson wrote. “There are Brown students and employees who, due to age or underlying health conditions, may be at significant risk. We must take steps to protect them, as well as other vulnerable members of the local community who interact with Brown students on a regular basis.”

To date, there have been no confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 on the Brown campus. Paxson noted that while there is still great uncertainty about the ultimate extent and severity of the pandemic, Brown has a responsibility to prepare for a situation in which the virus becomes widespread.

“A major concern is that Brown simply does not have the facilities or personnel needed to manage the large-scale quarantine or isolation of students that would be necessary if the virus begins to spread through our residential student community,” she wrote. “The only way to limit this risk is to dramatically reduce the number of students residing at Brown.”

Exceptions to the requirement to leave residence halls will be made for undergraduates whose circumstances prevent them from leaving campus — international travel restrictions, the impact of COVID-19 on their homes, financial hardship or other extraordinary considerations.

Paxson said the decision to move to remote learning was difficult and that she’s grateful to the entire Brown community for their understanding, resilience and commitment to taking care of each other.

“I am sorry to have to share such heartbreaking news,” she wrote. “The best part of Brown is the interactions we have with each other, in classrooms, dormitories and around campus. I especially feel for our seniors whose ‘senior spring’ is being severely disrupted. My hope is that by May, the virus will have abated and we will be able to welcome our seniors and their families back to campus for Commencement and Reunion Weekend.”

University leaders do not yet have sufficient information to share plans about Commencement and Reunion Weekend, scheduled for May 22 to 24. The University expects to communicate to its campus community, families and alumni no later than March 16 to let them know what date they will receive a decision from Brown. Brown’s leaders continue to assess guidance from health officials, Paxson said.

Among the key measures implemented at Brown to mitigate the potential impact of COVID-19:

  • The University remains open, and academic and administrative offices will continue to operate with appropriate measures to protect the health of the community and to provide for paid leave needs.

  • All but the most essential campus events are cancelled. Admissions events are cancelled, as well as all spring athletics competitions and practices, in alignment with an Ivy League decision.

  • Non-essential visitors are being discouraged from coming to campus. Parents and families are considered essential visitors during the process of helping students to move off campus.

  • All University-sponsored travel to both international and domestic destinations has been suspended.

  • Many students enrolled in study abroad programs are returning to their homes, with assistance from Brown’s Office of International Programs.

  • Anyone returning to the U.S. after any travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea (identified as Level 3 risk areas by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) will be required to self-isolate in a U.S. location away from Brown’s campus for at least 14 days before returning to Brown.

Brown’s comprehensive COVID-19 website includes detailed information and updates on the University’s continued preparedness, action and response to 2019 novel coronavirus.