Dear Members of the Brown Community,
I write today with an update on Brown’s continued response concerning coronavirus (COVID-19).
With the impact of COVID-19 expanding across the globe and Brown’s spring recess only weeks away, we wanted to share advice on travel planning and offer a reminder that support and guidance are available to all members of the Brown community contending with the implications of this global health emergency. Additional information and updates are available and updated regularly on the Brown COVID-19 website.
First, it is important to emphasize that to this point no significant risks to the Brown community in Rhode Island have been identified — and the majority of University programs, both on campus and abroad, continue to operate as normal. The University’s Core Crisis Team has convened at multiple points and members are in regular contact with the Rhode Island Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). We will be guided by the scientific and health recommendations of both agencies and adjust our policies and plans accordingly.
While the risk of COVID-19 in our area remains low, seasonal influenza is prevalent. The most important steps you can take to prevent the spread of illness are common sense measures for maintaining your health and that of others. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick; stay away from work or class when you are sick; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. And if you have not already done so, get a flu shot – students can do so at Health Services and faculty and staff through their health care provider or local pharmacy.
Self-monitoring for symptoms of flu, social distancing and – if directed by a health care professional – self-isolation are essential to disrupt the transmission of flu, including COVID-19. Accordingly, all students, faculty and staff must take responsibility for their own health and the health of others by doing the following:
- If you do have a sore throat, fever, cough and body aches, you may have the flu. As always, students with symptoms of concern should call Health Services at 401-863-3953. Faculty and staff should consult with their local primary care provider. Stay out of class and home from work if you feel sick.
- Any Brown community member with a combination of cough, shortness of breath or fever above 100.4 degrees and travel to countries with widespread or sustained community transmission of COVID-19 - China, Iran, Italy, Japan, or South Korea as of today - in the last 14 days or had close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19, must self-isolate and contact Health Services (students) or a local provider (faculty and staff) by phone for further direction and before returning to campus.
- Any Brown community member who is not experiencing symptoms but has traveled to countries with widespread transmission (listed above as of today) or had close contact with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 must self-monitor for symptoms and consult with Health Services (students) or a local provider (faculty and staff) before returning to campus.
Over the last week, we have seen COVID-19 outbreaks reach new areas across the world. Staff from Brown’s Office of International Programs and Office of Global Engagement have in recent weeks assisted a small number of students enrolled in study abroad programs near affected areas to find alternative academic programs. 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 in Italy on plans to return to their homes for the duration of the semester. University staff remain in contact with all students studying abroad, as well as family members who have questions. Status decisions on individual programs made on a case-by-case basis, guided by official guidance from international and national agencies and by University policy.
Updated guidance and information regarding travel, including Brown’s policy on High-Risk and Restricted Travel, can be found on the International Travel Risk Management website and key guidance is included below. For anyone considering travel during spring recess, or any other time in the coming months, I strongly encourage you to review this information carefully and to check back frequently as guidance and circumstances around the world continue to evolve rapidly. For students who choose to forgo travel and remain at Brown during spring recess, Campus Life and the Global Brown Center are planning increased events and programs — further information on plans will be made available soon.
Given the CDC’s advice this week about planning for the possibility of COVID-19 spread in the U.S., the Core Crisis Team is engaged in planning on multiple levels. This includes everything from refreshing Health Services plans and protocols for evaluating those with symptoms, anticipating potential impacts on academic programs on campus and abroad, and planning for possible effects on University events. Looking ahead, we will be monitoring COVID-19 closely, communicating updates and taking necessary steps to ensure the safety of the Brown community.
Toward that end, and consistent with guidance from the CDC, we have asked administrative leaders on campus to review continuity plans and take steps to prepare for the unlikely event of a disruption to normal University operations. Faculty members in particular can prepare for such a possibility — which we believe to be remote — by refreshing their knowledge of instructional technology tools such as Canvas and Zoom, which could be employed to continue coursework and academic instruction if necessary in the event a course can’t be held in person. Information and training on these tools can be found in this Teaching Continuity Guide.
As noted in previous updates, we recognize that reports of the impacts of COVID-19 in the U.S. and around the world can be very troubling, especially for members of our 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.
Additional information on current travel restrictions and advice on travel preparation and resources is included below, and we remind all community members to seek updates via our COVID-19 FAQs page on Brown.edu. We will continue to update the community with additional information as necessary.
Russell C. Carey
Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy
Current Travel Restrictions
Brown’s International Travel Risk Assessment Committee has continued to monitor recommendations from International SOS, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Department of State and the CDC. Per Brown’s policy and based on State Department and CDC travel advisories, China, Iran, Italy and South Korea are currently considered restricted destinations. A full list of Brown’s restricted destinations can be reviewed here.
This means that no Brown undergraduate student, graduate student or medical student will be permitted to travel to China, Iran, Italy or South Korea as part of a for-credit or non-credit program, including for Brown research. Given the dynamic nature of these events, likely disruptions to available transportation and challenges to re-entry to the U.S., Brown-sponsored travel to China, Iran, Italy or South Korea by faculty and staff is also not permitted at this time without advance permission from the Provost’s Office. We will continue to monitor travel advisories closely, and will remove restrictions as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.
Per Brown’s policy and based on CDC and Department of State guidance, additional countries affected by coronavirus — Japan, as of today — are considered high-risk destinations. Any travel by students for Brown programs in these countries must be approved by the University’s International Travel Risk and Assessment Committee. A full list of Brown’s high-risk destinations can be reviewed here.
While Brown’s policies do not regulate personal and non-Brown travel, all members of the community planning to travel internationally are strongly urged to carefully consider travel plans — especially if considering essential personal travel to China, Italy, Iran, Japan or South Korea. Local quarantines in those countries are possible, numerous commercial flights have been canceled, and re-entry to the U.S. from some destinations will be very difficult, if not impossible, until further notice. It is important to keep updated with regard to potential travel restrictions and worldwide government measures related to COVID-19.
Regarding mainland China specifically, travel into the U.S. by non-U.S. citizens is prohibited unless there has been a minimum 14-day layover in another country. And while U.S. citizens and permanent residents are permitted to return to the country, a 14-day quarantine is required upon return.
Travel Preparation and Resources
Now and in the future, Brown encourages all members of the Brown community, and requires students, to register University-related travel overseas in Brown’s global travel registry, TravelSafe, via their Brown login. This will enable all registered travelers to receive timely updates and advisories from International SOS sent directly to your email — it can also assist the University in locating you and offering support in the event of an emergency.
International students considering personal travel during the spring break should contact the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) for general travel and re-entry information. For travel plans involving visits home to impacted countries, students may wish to set up an appointment with an OISSS advisor.
All members of the community should actively monitor the U.S. State Department website for updates, as travel restrictions continue to evolve daily and are prone to sudden change.
International students who plan to stay on campus during Spring Break are encouraged to contact the Global Brown Center at [email protected]. The center will have various programs and support.