Coronavirus Updates


Policies and practices to promote the health, safety and well-being of all Brown employees.

Reducing In-person Operations

Brown remains open, but only essential personnel have been reporting to work in person since March 16, in accordance with University guidance first established March 14, 2020. These work arrangements have been extended to remain in effect through May 1. During this period, all employees will continue to be paid and do not need to apply for a Special Leave of Absence.

Brown continues to support the safety of its employees, as well as to address their needs to care for others affected by the coronavirus. University policies are subject to change and may be modified as more information on the coronavirus becomes available.  

Effective immediately and until further notice, the following guidelines and information are being provided to assist employees in regard to the impact of COVID-19:

  • All offices are being encouraged to postpone or hold virtually any non-essential meetings, and to maintain social distancing when performing work.

  • Managers should continue to establish telecommuting work assignments with their employees on an ongoing basis based on department operational needs (for employees who can telecommute to perform their job functions or other duties as assigned).

  • Except for essential personnel, telecommuting work assignments are in effect through May 1.

Employees can direct general questions to University Human Resources at [email protected] or (401) 863-2141.

  • Consult the FAQs for staff and managers below for common questions.

  • For questions related to Alternative Work Arrangements (AWA), please email [email protected] or call (401) 863-3896

  • For questions related to leaves of absence, please email [email protected] or call (401) 863-3458.

For guidance on working offsite:

Consult the information made available by University Human Resources on Telecommuting.

FAQ: For Staff

Yes. Employees who can telecommute are expected to do so. These arrangements should be finalized with their supervisor. To confirm Alternative Work Arrangements (AWA) approval, an employee can rely on their supervisor’s communication that they can telecommute.

Employees whose work has not been designated as essential on-site must consult with their managers before returning to their University work location. Employees may be granted permission from their supervisor to pick up essential items to continue their telecommuting work arrangements, but they should not remain at their on-campus work location to conduct work. To promote social distancing, supervisors will need to determine specific arrival times for any staff returning to their work location, and it is recommended that they should leave within 30 minutes after their arrival.

The University remains open. Only essential personnel should report to work in person starting on Monday, March 16. Employees who can telecommute are expected to do so. These work arrangements will remain in effect through May 1.

It depends. In accordance with the RI Workers Compensation regulations, the University’s workers’ compensation program will apply if your exposure to COVID-19 occurred in the workplace and during the performance of your job duties.

If you have symptoms of a fever, cough and shortness of breath, do not report to work. Inform your supervisor and contact your medical provider.

Employees and dependents covered under one of Brown’s health insurance plans also have access to telemedicine benefit services. This service provides you with access to board-certified physicians through phone and/or video consultations, and the ability to speak to a physician as soon as possible.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you should self-isolate. Immediately notify your supervisor of your diagnosis and continue following the guidance of your healthcare provider.

Any staff member who has been exposed to someone being tested for COVID-19 should seek medical treatment as soon as possible to determine if they need to be tested for the virus. An alternative work arrangement should also be discussed with your supervisor so you can self-isolate.

If you have traveled internationally, you must remain in quarantine for 14 days from the time of your return to Rhode Island and not report to work in accordance with Gov. Raimondo’s Friday executive order.  

Effective March 16 through May 1, all staff will be paid during self quarantine or self isolation. Staff who can telecommute are expected to do so. Managers can inform employees to telecommute using their regular methods of communication. Communication from managers will be sufficient approval for employees who can telecommute.

After May 1, if you are unable to work from home or another location, you may request a Paid Special Leave in which you will receive pay for 10 business days. No documentation is required for eligibility of this Paid Special Leave. Employees should also consult the State of Rhode Island for additional information regarding eligibility for temporary disability insurance.

The potential threat of the COVID-19 virus can affect mental health and wellness. The University’s Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) provides confidential counseling.

Take the same steps you would to avoid the seasonal flu, with additional precautions. Avoiding infection is the best way to help control the spread of COVID-19.

What you can do to protect yourself and others:

  • It isn’t too late to get a flu shot, if you have not already.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid non-essential group gatherings.
  • Avoid non-essential travel.
  • Stay home if you are sick…..even a little bit sick.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue, and throw the tissue away (or cough and sneeze into your elbow if a tissue is not available).
  • Avoid hand shaking.
  • If you have been potentially exposed to COVID-19 based on a physical encounter or recent travel history, please remain at home and contact your health care provider.

What you can do to your surroundings:

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (door handles, faucets, telephones, railings)
  • Use alcohol wipes to clean keyboards
  • Ensure that hard surfaces at work and at home are cleaned regularly (desks, tables, countertops, sinks).

FAQ: For Managers

Community safety is the priority. Inform the employee that they should contact their medical provider and remain at home for the 14 day quarantine period as recommended by the Rhode Island Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They will be eligible for a paid Special Leave for up to 10 business days during the two week quarantine period.

For employees needing quarantine who are still in their probationary period, the preferred approach to ensure they continue to be paid is an Alternative Work Arrangement (AWA), if possible. If they are unable to perform work on an AWA, they will be eligible to be paid through a paid Special Leave during the quarantine period.

If an employee’s exposure to COVID-19 occurred at work or during the performance of their job duties, the University’s workers’ compensation program will apply and the employee should submit a workers’ compensation claim to determine eligibility. Learn more by contacting the Office of Strategic Purchasing, Contracts, and Insurance at [email protected].

Federal law demands that privacy and confidentiality must be maintained at all times.

If you observe an employee displaying symptoms associated with COVID-19, exercise discretion. The kinds of indicators that will lead you to conclude an illness could be a suspected but unconfirmed case of COVID-19 include whether that employee traveled to a restricted area that is under a Level 2, 3, or 4 Travel Advisory according to the CDC, whether that employee was exposed to someone who traveled to one of those areas, or similar facts.

You can confidentially ask employees if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, fatigue, cough, and shortness of breath. You are required to handle the employee’s response as a confidential medical record. Seek advice from University Human Resources if you have questions on this topic.

If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, you should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure in the workplace while not disclosing the identity of the infected employee.

Brown prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, and other protected classifications. If an infected or quarantined employee has concerns about experiencing discrimination, they should contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

Only essential personnel should report to work in person starting on Monday, March 16. These work arrangements will remain in effect through May 1.

Managers need to identify essential employees who should report to work in person. Managers need to finalize work assignments for employees who can telecommute. Managers can inform employees to telecommute using their regular methods of communication. Communication from managers will be sufficient approval for employees who can telecommute.


  • Essential - On-Site Required: This is a position on your team that is required to report to campus to their normal work location (or an alternate site on campus if necessary) for work. An employee serving in an on-campus essential position may have to report to work even if their hours of work are different in order to perform work from March 16 through May 1 (or longer if extended by the University).
  • Essential - Telecommuting: This is an essential staff member who is required to perform work but is not necessarily required to do so at their normal work location. Instead, a telecommuting employee may perform their work at an alternate work location. This work may include a reassignment of duties.
  • Non-Essential: Staff in this category, who cannot perform their functions and cannot be assigned other functions through a telecommuting work assignment, will be paid March 16 through May 1 (without using their regular vacation, sick or leave time).

Repeatedly, creatively, and aggressively encourage employees and others to take the same steps they should be taking to protect themselves against the seasonal flu. Avoiding infection is the best way to help control the spread of COVID-19. The most important message you can share with employees is to stay home if they are sick.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home 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.
  • Managers can ensure employees have ample facilities to wash their hands, including tepid water and soap, and that third-party cleaning/custodial schedules are accelerated.
  • Teleconference in lieu of meeting in person if available.
  • Educate yourself and colleagues about COVID-19, its symptoms and the potential health concerns associated with any travel at this time.
  • If touching or working with blood-borne pathogens, wear personal protective equipment like gloves and goggles.

No. You cannot prevent employees from traveling to affected areas for personal travel reasons, and under no circumstances can the employee’s national origin be factored into consideration of whether to grant or deny time off. However, if an employee chooses to travel to a Level 3 destination, they will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return. You should be aware that a staff member may need to request a leave of absence if that staff member is traveling to a Level 3 destination to care for a family member or dependent.

FAQ: Student Employment

Student workers will be paid for their scheduled hours for March 15 through April 4, whether they worked or not. 

To maintain health and safety, only students whose supervisors can identify work conducive to allowing their students to work remotely will be able to continue working past April 4. However, Brown will continue to provide funding for students on financial aid who were working this semester and who currently have campus employment expectations and/or federal work study as part of their financial aid packages. As the University shared with students March 25, students whose work can be performed remotely are expected to continue to work, and will continue to be paid for their work in those positions. Student workers whose work cannot be performed remotely will receive phased payments based on the level they were being paid prior to Brown moving to remote operations, up to the full amount they were expected to earn as part of their work expectation for the semester. In this way, we are honoring our commitment to our students on financial aid and to those students with the highest need. Phased payments through the end of the semester will be made to eligible students who cannot work remotely after the University works with managers of student workers to identify which jobs can or cannot be done remotely.

A top priority for the University is ensuring that student workers are well positioned to focus on continuing their studies remotely to support their academic success. Given the transition to remote learning at Brown, only students whose supervisors can identify work conducive to allowing their students to telecommute will be able to continue working remotely past April 4. No students can continue in roles that do not allow them to telecommute to fulfill their work functions. Student workers who are asked by their supervisor to work remotely will continue to be paid. For students whose job duties cannot be performed remotely, or if a supervisor determines that their work is not needed remotely, work assignments will end automatically as of April 4. The end of any student work assignment in response to COVID-19 will not impact a student’s ability to re-apply for a position at Brown when normal on-campus operations resume. Students returning to Brown after this public health crisis will be able to seek work once normal business operations resume on campus. 


Students should directly contact their supervisors regarding the status of their position. Managers of student workers or student workers with payroll questions can email [email protected].