Brown University is inviting more undergraduates to resume in-person instruction on campus in October, despite ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks forcing universities across the country to close.
University President Christina Paxson announced in a community-wide email on Thursday that students will be allowed to move back to campus due to an improved public health situation in Rhode Island, low positivity rates from Brown’s COVID-19 testing program, and low demand for quarantine rooms.
"For our own campus, what Brown and Rhode Island are currently experiencing is a set of conditions that may be among the most conducive to bringing more students back to campus that we’re likely to experience for up to a year,” Paxson wrote.
Sophomores, juniors, and seniors who wish to return to Brown’s residence halls are permitted to do so from Sept. 18 to Sept. 20, with some in-person instruction slated to resume Oct. 5. Upon returning, students will be subject to a mandatory 14-day "quiet" period, Brown Daily Herald reported.
During this period, students may only leave their residence halls to get a COVID-19 test or to pick up food from dining halls, according to the announcement. First-year students are not invited back to campus for the fall semester, and graduate students will begin in person on Sept. 16.
Some Brown graduate students said they are concerned for their safety and limited access to campus resources as undergraduates begin to repopulate campus, Brown Daily Herald reported. Upon arriving back at campus, undergraduate students will be tested once or twice a week depending on the amount of interaction with others, the announcement stated.
Brown joins Cornell University and Dartmouth College as the only schools in the Ivy League allowing students to live on-campus and offering in-person classes. Penn backtracked its initial plan for a hybrid, on-campus fall semester on Aug. 11 in favor of an entirely virtual semester.
In August, Brown announced a “phased approach” to in-person instruction for the fall semester. Undergraduate courses began remotely on Sept. 9 and will continue to be held online until Oct. 5, when in-person instruction of small undergraduate courses will begin, University President Christina Paxson, Provost Richard Locke, and Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Barbara Chernow wrote in an email to the Brown community.
In April, Paxson wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in support of reopening college campuses for the fall, citing a loss of revenue that remote learning could cause. Many universities across the country have seen outbreaks of COVID-19 since inviting students back to campus, and The New York Times reported more than 88,000 cases at colleges and universities nationwide as of Sept. 10.