Final week of fall courses at Brown will be conducted remotely

With increasing COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island and nationally, and an uptick of positive cases on campus, Brown will move to online-only instruction for undergraduate and graduate students for the final six days of classes.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — With the end of fall courses one week away, Brown University will return to online-only instruction for all undergraduate and graduate students until Thanksgiving Break begins on Wednesday, Nov. 25, which was the previously scheduled end of in-person classes for the fall term.

Brown President Christina H. Paxson announced the return to Campus Activity Status Level 1, effective Wednesday, Nov. 18, in a letter to the campus community on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

“The decision to return to Level 1 is driven by three related factors, the primary one being significant increases in infection rates in Rhode Island,” Paxson wrote. “Second, as you may have noted from Brown’s weekly testing updates, in recent weeks we have seen an increase in positive tests among students, faculty and staff. Although infections rates at Brown are still quite low, and we have ample space for quarantine and isolation, these increases are nevertheless concerning...

“A final factor is the need to ensure that members of our community who will be traveling away from Providence for Thanksgiving are healthy when they depart. By scaling back on our activities now, we can do our part to keep infection rates low and protect our families and friends.”

After Thanksgiving Break, Brown’s fall term is scheduled to conclude with a weeklong remote reading period from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4 followed by a remote final exam period Dec. 7 to 11. Residence halls will remain open until Saturday, Dec. 12, including through Thanksgiving Break.

Students can choose to stay for the duration of the semester, remaining on campus or in the Providence area through the Thanksgiving Break — or, they can choose to depart campus before the break and complete the semester remotely from another location. Importantly, they cannot leave for Thanksgiving and then return to campus or to the Providence area.

Paxson noted that the vast majority of Brown community members have followed public health guidance superbly, with healthy behavior choices playing a major role in the low number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus during the fall. But with communities across the nation feeling fatigue as the pandemic wears on, the responsibility to take health protocols seriously is paramount as cases climb in the state and across the country. 

“The safety of our community members and their families remains our top priority,” Paxson wrote. “With one week until Thanksgiving Break, and especially for members of our community who want to avoid carrying infection to their homes or wherever they may travel in and beyond Providence to be with family or friends, this is the time to be especially vigilant about following public health measures at all times...

“Please wear your masks, wash your hands, maintain social distancing and keep your close contacts to as small a group as possible. Your commitment to these health protocols makes a real difference.”

In addition to the move to online instruction, the campus will be required to adhere to stricter guidelines for dining, social activities and a full range of in-person engagement for academic and administrative programming, Paxson noted, though the University will allow for research operations to continue and for limited library use. Requirements and activity limitations currently in place are detailed on the Campus Activity Status page on the Healthy Brown website.

The letter noted that Warren Alpert Medical School classes will move online after the Thanksgiving Break through the beginning of Winter Break on Friday, Dec. 18, and only faculty and staff designated as “essential onsite” whose work and operations cannot be performed remotely should continue working in-person.

The full text of the letter to the Brown community is included below and is posted to the University’s Healthy Brown 2020 website.

*****

Brown returns to Level 1 status, effective Nov. 18

Dear Brown Community Members,

As the COVID-19 public health crisis worsens across the country and around the world, we have decided to return Brown’s Campus Activity Status to Level 1, effective Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020. While students already at Brown may remain on campus, the shift to Level 1 means a return to online-only instruction for all undergraduate and graduate students until Thanksgiving Break begins on Nov. 25, which was the previously scheduled end of their in-person classes for the fall term. Warren Alpert Medical School classes will move online after the Thanksgiving Break through the beginning of Winter Break, Dec. 18. In addition, only faculty and staff designated as “essential onsite” whose work and operations cannot be performed remotely should continue working in-person.

The campus will be required to adhere to stricter guidelines for dining, social activities and a full range of in-person engagement for academic and administrative programming, though we have established exceptions for library use and research operations. The detailed list of requirements and activity limitations currently in place has been updated on the Campus Activity Status page on the Healthy.Brown.edu website. Please review those requirements closely, and note that they apply to all members of the Brown community, including students living in off-campus residences.

The decision to return to Level 1 is driven by three related factors, the primary one being significant increases in infection rates in Rhode Island. Second, as you may have noted from Brown’s weekly testing updates, in recent weeks we have seen an increase in positive tests among students, faculty and staff. Although infections rates at Brown are still quite low, and we have ample space for quarantine and isolation, these increases are nevertheless concerning. A particular concern is that, over the past week, a number of individuals who have tested positive have reported relatively large numbers of contacts, requiring more use of quarantine, and indicating that individuals are interacting with larger groups than health guidance would permit.

A final factor is the need to ensure that members of our community who will be traveling away from Providence for Thanksgiving are healthy when they depart. By scaling back on our activities now, we can do our part to keep infection rates low and protect our families and friends.

I recognize that a vast number of our community members have done a superb job following public health guidance, and I understand we all are feeling levels of fatigue as the pandemic wears on, but every one of us shares the responsibility of taking the health protocols seriously. We must maintain unwavering persistence and consistency in mask wearing, social distancing, socializing with a small and stable group of people both on and off campus, and participating in routine COVID-19 testing (for those approved to be on campus or engaging with others on campus).

COVID-19 Testing During Breaks

In the coming days, we will send communications about how the testing program will operate over Thanksgiving Break and Winter Break. Individuals currently in the testing program will receive specific instructions, but in general, all community members will be expected to continue their COVID-19 testing for as long as they are in the Providence area and/or working on campus. Students who are leaving Providence between semesters will be paused from testing from the time of their departure until the time they are permitted to return in January. Students need to enter or update their departure date in the MyBrown platform by 8 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 23.

Members of the community who will enter the testing program in January for the spring term, such as new first-year students or faculty and staff being newly categorized as “essential onsite” or “essential special” through the Return to Campus Plan process, will receive information about how to do so at that time.

The safety of our community members and their families remains our top priority. With one week until Thanksgiving Break, and especially for members of our community who want to avoid carrying infection to their homes or wherever they may travel in and beyond Providence to be with family or friends, this is the time to be especially vigilant about following public health measures at all times.

Again, please wear your masks, wash your hands, maintain social distancing and keep your close contacts to as small a group as possible. Your commitment to these health protocols makes a real difference.

Sincerely,

Christina H. Paxson
President