Brown, Salve to require COVID-19 boosters for students and employees

Updated at 4:48 p.m.

BROWN UNIVERSITY is requiring all students and employees to get a COVID-19 booster shot before the start of the spring semester. / COURTESY BROWN UNIVERSITY
BROWN UNIVERSITY was the first Rhode Island college to announce it is requiring all students and employees to get a COVID-19 booster shot before the start of the spring semester. Salve Regina University in Newport has also announced a similar mandate. / COURTESY BROWN UNIVERSITY

PROVIDENCE – COVID-19 booster vaccines will be required for all students and employees at Brown University and Salve Regina University in Newport.

Both schools announced Tuesday that all students, faculty and staff are mandated to receive their booster vaccines for the spring semester. Brown is requiring its campus community to get boosters by the first day of the spring semester on Jan. 26 or within 30 days of becoming eligible for a booster. Salve, meanwhile, is calling for all students and employees to get their boosters by March 1.

Brown and Salve are the first local colleges to publicly announce a booster mandate. Brown was among the first colleges in the area to mandate COVID-19 vaccines for both students and employees before the start of the current academic year.

Brown was among multiple local colleges that earlier this month told Providence Business News they were taking a wait-and-see approach as to whether or not to mandate booster shots on campus. Initially, Brown’s health guidelines were in accordance with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating the university “highly recommends” those who are eligible for booster vaccines to get one “as soon as possible.”

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Now, Brown Executive Vice President, Planning and Policy Russell C. Carey and Vice President for Campus Life Eric Estes said in a message to the campus community that as the winter break approaches amidst increasing COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island that “it is clear that we must take additional steps to ensure the spring semester is just as healthy and safe as the fall.”

Brown also said most members of the campus community are now eligible for booster vaccines, and chose to inform the community at this time to allow ample time to schedule booster vaccine appointments. Students are to provide the university electronic documented proof that they received their boosters, Brown said, while employees will receive further instructions on how to provide the university booster vaccine proof.

Students at Salve and Brown are to provide the schools electronic documented proof that they received their boosters, Brown said its employees will receive further instructions on how to provide the university booster vaccine proof.

Brown is also requiring all undergraduate students to take a COVID-19 test two days before returning to campus after the holiday break. Salve is requiring students to be tested three days before arriving on campus after the break, and cannot return without a negative COVID-19 test.

Brown also said that while testing requirements at the start of the spring semester will be determined based on the public health conditions at the time, all undergraduate students should expect to be tested at least twice the first week back.

Those who received vaccine exemptions at the start of the academic year at Brown and Salve will not be asked to get a booster, the respective universities said.

Indoor mask wearing will still be required in all campus buildings at Brown.

“We understand the fatigue that has developed around the pandemic and the continued necessity of health and safety measures. The virus, unfortunately, does not care about our fatigue and continued vigilance is required,” Carey and Estes said.

(UPDATED throughout to ADD Salve details, comment.)

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

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