Brown University to make masks indoors mostly optional starting March 14

BROWN UNIVERSITY will make masks optional in most indoor settings on campus starting March 14. / COURTESY BROWN UNIVERSITY
BROWN UNIVERSITY will make masks optional in most indoor settings on campus starting March 14. / COURTESY BROWN UNIVERSITY

PROVIDENCE – Less than two weeks after making some modifications to its mask-wearing policy on campus, Brown University has now gone further with that where masks in most indoor settings will be optional starting March 14.

Russel C. Carey, the Ivy League university’s executive vice president of planning and policy, announced Thursday that individuals who are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines will as of March 14 have the choice to wear masks inside campus buildings in most settings. Carey said Brown is changing its policy in response to Rhode Island’s current “low” community COVID-19 level as identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as declining reported positive cases among students and faculty on campus.

In addition to the university’s high vaccination rate, Brown has not seen instances of hospitalization, severe illnesses, case clusters or outbreaks since the start of the semester seven weeks ago, Carey said, thus making the university “comfortable” to adjust its mask policy.

Back on March 1, Brown scaled back on some of its mask policy, where lecturers, stage performers and those participating in indoor athletic and recreational activities may choose to remove their masks indoors if they are up to date with their vaccinations. But at the time, masks were still required in other indoor settings at Brown, including in classrooms.

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The campus, though, is not fully maskless. Carey said masks are still required inside the Warren Alper Medical School, campus health care facilities, university shuttles, classes and meetings where instructors and/or hosts may require masks.

Students who are up to date on their vaccines will also now have the option to be tested for COVID-19, Carey said. But, those who are traveling during spring break – March 26 through April 3 – will need to be tested upon their return.

The University of Rhode Island, the Community College of Rhode Island, Providence College, Roger Williams University, Bryant University, Salve Regina University, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Stonehill College and Wheaton College are other local colleges that have altered their on-campus mask policies, including going mask optional.

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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