Coronavirus Updates

Brown FAQ & Resources

Answering frequently asked questions on Brown’s actions to protect the health of the community, as well as general information about the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.

Responding to Frequently Asked Questions

These questions are being updated as new information becomes available from government and health agencies that affect Brown and members of our community. Please also visit the University Updates page to review campus communications about any changes in programming or operations.

University Operations

The University will continue to update this website as new or updated information is made available. Additional notifications may also be shared through other campus communications channels, such as [email protected], the Brown.edu website and/or social media.

Brown’s leaders and staff in Health Services, the Office of Global Engagement and other departments are deeply committed to the health and safety of students as their first priority. The University is following all guidelines and recommendations from local and national public health experts, who have the best understanding of how to carefully manage public health risks such as coronavirus.

Among the actions Brown has taken to date:

  • The University has sent a series of community updates on coronavirus to all members of the University community.
  • The University’s Core Crisis Team is convening regularly to monitor this evolving public health situation and to ensure that appropriate plans are in place to protect the health of the Brown campus community, should the need arise. 
  • Since the week of Jan. 20, campus leaders and medical providers based in Brown’s Health and Wellness departments have been actively coordinating with federal and state health officials and monitoring national guidelines to ensure the ongoing safety and well-being of the Brown community.
  • Brown Health Services is monitoring and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance to ensure that its screening and response protocols remain fully aligned with the most current health care community recommendations.  
  • To protect the community while enabling students to complete the semester, Brown will move academic instruction for all undergraduate and graduate students to remote learning effective March 30.
  • Undergraduate students who live in on-campus residences or Brown-owned properties must vacate their residences by March 17 and complete the semester from their homes or at an alternate location.
  • Classes are cancelled for the week of March 16 so that faculty have time to prepare to transition courses to remote learning and students have time to pack and arrange for travel.
  • Brown’s telecommuting status, which began on March 16, has been extended through May 1. Brown remains open, only essential personnel should report to work in person, and all other employees who can telecommute are expected to do so.
  • Brown issued updated travel guidance on March 6 and March 10, suspending all Brown-sponsored international and domestic travel and advising members of the campus community on any personal travel they are considering.
  • All but the most essential events are cancelled. Admissions events and all spring athletics competitions and practices are cancelled, and non-essential visitors are discouraged from coming to campus. 
  • Staff members from Brown’s Office of International Programs worked with a small number of students enrolled in study abroad programs operated by other institutions in mainland China. All have successfully enrolled in alternative programs or returned to the Brown campus for the semester. On Feb. 28, given an elevated CDC risk designation for Italy, the University suspended its Brown in Italy program and began work with all students in Italy on plans to return home.
  • Brown’s Summer 2020 study abroad program Bologna, Italy, as well as travel and programming for other Brown-related programs in Italy, South Korea and China for Summer 2020 have been formally suspended. This includes any non-Brown programs where students may intend to transfer credit back to Brown. 
  • The Global Brown Center for International Students hosted an early February event on campus to share information on the University’s response and to offer the opportunity to explore concerns or experiences related to the outbreak.
     

Leaders from Brown’s Health Services office coordinate closely with officials at the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) on any suspected COVID-19 case on the Brown campus. In the one case to date in which a member of the Brown community tested positive, RIDOH directly contacted all individuals who may have been exposed. The process is expected work similarly if other cases emerge. 

This decision was informed by guidance from infectious disease experts and the Rhode Island Department of Health. Although there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the ultimate extent and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University must be prepared for a situation in which the virus becomes widespread in the U.S., including Rhode Island.

Brown’s first priority is to protect the health of students and employees. While the COVID-19 mortality rate for young adults appears to be quite low, there are students and employees on campus who may be at significant risk if they contract the virus. University leaders determined that it was essential to take steps to protect them, as well as other vulnerable members of the local community who interact with Brown students.

An additional concern was that Brown does not have the facilities or personnel needed to manage the large-scale quarantine of students that would be necessary if the virus were to spread through the residential student community. The University was especially concerned that the risk of infection would be heightened if students returned to campus from destinations across the country and around the world after spring break.

To protect the community while enabling students to complete the semester, Brown made the difficult but prudent decision to move academic instruction for all undergraduate and graduate students to remote learning effective March 30.

Many faculty members at Brown already use digital teaching and learning tools in their instruction.

The University advised faculty beginning in early March to prepare for the possibility of delivering course content remotely, to ensure continuity of teaching Brown students should the need arise. Staff in Digital Learning & Design and Computing and Information Services are now supporting faculty efforts directly and helping to develop plans for remote instruction.

In addition, Brown cancelled classes for the week of March 16. With that week and spring break the following week, faculty will have time to prepare to transition courses to remote learning.

Undergraduates who live in on-campus residences or Brown-owned properties must vacate their residences no later than 5 p.m. on March 17. Exceptions will be considered for the following circumstances:

  • International students with concerns about being able to return to Brown due to visa issues. 
  • International students with concerns about difficulty returning to their home country due to the prevalence of COVID-19.
  • Students who do not have an alternate place to go.
  • Students for whom departing campus would create a severe financial hardship.

Residential Life provided instructions on how to request an exception to all on-campus residents and will begin to communicate decisions as soon as possible after reviewing requests.

Additional details are available on the Housing and Dining page.

Graduate and medical students should prepare for a curtailment in University services, including the closure of libraries. Graduate students involved in scientific research will receive instructions from their departments about their continued participation. Detailed FAQs for graduate students are included on the Graduate School website.

Medical students will continue to receive instruction directly from the medical school.

First-year students at the Warren Alpert Medical School will move to remote learning effective Monday, March 16. A detailed outline of how their classes will be delivered has been provided to them. Second-year medical students are already away from campus, preparing for Step 1 of their board exams. Third- and fourth-year students have been receiving regular updates and guidance on their clinical rotations from the school’s Student Affairs office.

Any medical students with individual concerns about being in a clinical care setting should contact one of the associate deans: Allan Tunkel, Paul George or Roxanne Vrees. All updates that pertain to medical students will be posted at med.brown.edu.

The efforts of dedicated Brown employees are essential for supporting the University’s mission of teaching and scholarship.

Brown’s telecommuting status, which began on March 16, has been extended through May 1. Brown remains open, only essential personnel should report to work in person, and all other employees who can telecommute are expected to do so. All employees will continue to be paid.

The only faculty or staff who should be working on site at their Brown work locations are those whose work has been deemed essential and can only be performed on campus. Faculty require permission from the Office of the Provost, and staff require permission from their managers.

For security during this telecommuting period, doors for all Brown buildings will remain locked at all times, accessible only by individuals with existing card or key access.

Additional details, including on enhancements to workplace policies to address the impact of COVID-19 (such as paid special leave measures) are available on the Workforce page.

Questions about student employment are addressed on the Workforce page under FAQs: Student Employment.

Events, Admissions and Athletics

Effective Thursday, March 12, all student-organized events, both on campus and beyond, must be cancelled, regardless of the number of attendees. Faculty and staff are encouraged to postpone, cancel or offer virtually any event or gathering considered non-essential. For questions, please email [email protected].

In addition, in alignment with a decision announced by the Ivy League on March 11, all upcoming Brown spring athletics competitions and practices will be cancelled.

All non-essential visitors are discouraged from coming to campus through April 13, at which point this guidance will be re-evaluated. (Parents and families are considered essential visitors during the process of helping students move off campus.) Please contact [email protected] with questions.

In alignment with a decision announced by the Ivy League on March 11, all Brown spring athletics competitions and practices are cancelled.

All campus tours and information sessions offered by the Office of College Admission are suspended effective Wednesday, March 11 — families who had previously registered for sessions were informed that March 10 would mark the last day before this suspension was activated. It will remain in place until at least mid-April.

The University has also cancelled all “A Day on College Hill” events for admitted students. All prospective and admitted undergraduate students will be invited to learn about Brown's campus through the University’s virtual tour and other means.

Additionally, the Graduate School is directing all graduate programs with upcoming accepted student visit days to change the format of in-person events to online and virtual events until further notice.

In coordination with colleagues in a number of offices at Brown, the Office of College Admission is closely monitoring COVID-19 and recognizes the effect the outbreak has had on school activities and on prospective students from multiple countries.

With notifications on regular admissions decisions approaching in the coming weeks, all applicants for admission should be assured that they will not be penalized in the admissions process for circumstances outside of their control. Brown will give full consideration to all applicants based on materials received.

One of the biggest questions about campus events, especially for graduating seniors and their families, has been whether Commencement and Reunion Weekend could take place as planned over Memorial Day weekend from May 22 to 24. The University recognizes that this is a major celebratory event in the lives of all graduates — and its hope had been that the public health risks associated with COVID-19 may be reduced by later this spring.

On March 24, Brown President Christina H. Paxson informed the extended Brown community that Commencement and Reunion Weekend has been postponed from its traditional Memorial Day weekend schedule; the University's hope is that it can be held as early as October 2020, and the community will be informed when a date is set. Graduates will still formally receive degrees in May 2020 with a virtual Degree Conferral Ceremony being planned.

Many students, families and visitors have asked about summer programs at Brown — from Pre-College Programs, to courses and research opportunities for current Brown students, to the many events and conferences hosted on campus. At this time, the University plans to proceed with these programs, but decisions will be guided by recommendations from public health authorities. Updates will be posted as decisions are made.

Travel/Study Abroad

Effective March 13, 2020, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, by Executive Order, has ordered any person who has traveled outside of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia in the last 14 days to self-quarantine for the remainder of the 14-day period since arrival in Rhode Island. 

Further, any person who newly arrives in the state from a location outside the 50 United States or the District of Columbia must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Rhode Island. The Executive Order is in effect until April 12, 2020.

Brown does not directly operate any semester-long study abroad programs in any of these locations, which are now considered restricted destinations per Brown international travel policy and based on U.S. Department of State and CDC travel advisories. However, a small number of current Brown undergraduates had been scheduled to participate in approved study abroad programs in China and South Korea operated by other organizations. Staff members from the Office of International Programs worked with each of those students. All have successfully enrolled in alternative programs or returned home for the semester.

Approximately 40 students began the semester in Bologna, Italy, through the Brown in Italy program. While Bologna is outside of the area most directly affected by the outbreak near Milan, University staff both on site in Italy and on the Brown campus monitored the rapidly developing situation as COVID-19 reached the country in February. On Feb. 28, given an elevated CDC risk designation that made Italy a restricted destination, the University suspended its Brown in Italy program and began work with all students on plans to return home. The University of Bologna, where the program is based, is moving to an online platform for course delivery, enabling students who choose to study remotely to maintain academic continuity for the semester. Those who instead elect to formally withdraw from the program will receive a full refund of the Brown in Italy program fee.

Brown’s Summer 2020 study abroad program Bologna, Italy, as well as travel and programming for other Brown-related programs in Italy, South Korea and China for Summer 2020 have been formally suspended as well. This includes any non-Brown programs where students may intend to transfer credit back to Brown. 

Brown operates a study abroad program in Paris, and students began the semester enrolled in a number of approved programs that are operated by partner institutions. Staff from Brown’s Office of International Programs (OIP) and Office of Global Engagement have remained in contact with all students abroad, as well as family members who have questions.

On March 11, the CDC elevated a number of countries in Western Europe to a Level 3 risk designation, making multiple locations restricted destinations per University policy. Brown suspended its own operations in these countries as well as participation by Brown students in partner programs. Staff immediately began to assist students with return to their homes. Students enrolled in the Paris program and in programs based in many other European nations are in the process of returning.

Students enrolled in programs in the United Kingdom or other countries not designated as Level 3 countries are not required to return home. Brown has encouraged them to make the best decisions for themselves, personally and academically.

After the University announced plans to move academic instruction for all undergraduate and graduate students to remote learning effective March 30, the Office of International Programs contacted all undergraduates who remain enrolled in study abroad programs to share information on options for maintaining academic continuity.

Status decisions on individual Brown-operated programs made on a case-by-case basis, guided by official recommendations from international and national agencies and by University policy. There are a number of factors Brown takes into consideration when deciding to suspend or cancel a study abroad program. The University’s top priority is always mitigating risk to the health and safety of students, faculty and staff. Brown consults with national and international agencies including the U.S. Department of State, the CDC and the World Health Organization, in addition to local government authorities. When the need to suspend or cancel a program arises, staff from Brown offer direct support to students returning home.

Brown fully appreciates the concerns that COVID-19 has prompted for many students and families, and health and safety remains the University’s top priority. Any student who elects to leave a program and return home is encouraged to contact the Office of International Programs for advice and assistance in considering the impact on their academic status.

Please visit the Travel Restrictions page of this website for the most up-to-date information about travel limitations for students, faculty and staff.

Self Care

In late February, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH)'s State Health Laboratories identified the state's first presumptive positive cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and confirmation from the CDC of some cases followed. A confirmed case is one that has tested positive by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and a presumptive case is one that has been tested positive by the Rhode Island Department of Health (local health officials send the sample to be tested by the CDC to confirm a diagnosis).

The University learned that on March 13, for the first time, a member of the Brown community tested positive. Brown students and employees who were in contact with the diagnosed individual were notified directly by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), which provides guidance on health considerations and quarantine.

Reports of the impact of COVID-19 around the world can be troubling, especially for members of the community who are from or have friends and family in affected areas. Resources and support are available for students through Counseling and Psychological Services and for faculty and staff through the Faculty/Staff Assistance Program. The University Chaplains can also offer support to any member of the Brown community.

Please visit the Self Care page of this website to learn the latest guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Brown Resources for COVID-19