PROVIDENCE — Universities around New England are already requiring that all students be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning in person in the fall, and have been strongly encouraging faculty and staff to do the same.
But on Thursday, Brown University became the first in Rhode Island to require that all faculty and staff be fully vaccinated.
“In order to achieve near-universal vaccination, we are requiring all Brown employees to receive the final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July 1, 2021,” President Christina H. Paxson wrote in a letter sent to the Brown community.
In the letter, which was shared with a Globe reporter, Paxson wrote that based on discussions with Brown’s public health and medical experts, “it is clear that our priority should be to achieve near-universal levels of vaccination — 90 percent or greater — in the Brown community.”
“For these reasons, the sooner we can achieve near-universal vaccination, the sooner we’ll be able to lift public health restrictions on campus and return to a more normal environment for teaching and research, with full confidence that the health of the community is being protected,” wrote Paxson.
She also said that Brown students taking part in any on-campus activities this summer must also receive the final dose of their COVID-19 vaccine by July 1, which aligns with her previous announcement that all students must be fully vaccinated ahead of the fall semester.
She said for both students and employees, “medical and religious exemptions to the vaccination requirement will be granted and reasonable accommodations provided under applicable law.”
Employees and students will also be required to show proof that they were fully vaccinated by uploading their vaccination card to the school’s Workday system by the July 1 deadline. This applies to visiting researchers, seasonal and intermittent staff, and lecturers as well, Paxton said.
New employees hired after the deadline will have to be vaccinated before they begin work, unless they are approved for a medical or religious exemption.
Paxson’s letter was sent just three days after Brown hosted its first on-campus vaccination clinics. The Moderna vaccine was administered to approximately 60 eligible students, faculty, and staff who registered in advance, said university spokesman Brian Clark. He said the university will make arrangements for international students who don’t have access to vaccines in their home countries to get inoculated in Rhode Island.
When asked what would happen to the employees that did not have an “approved” reason to not receive the vaccine, Clark said faculty members and postdoctoral scholars will have their status reviewed and acted on by the Office of the Provost. Staff members will be reviewed and acted on by the human resources department.
“In cases where the requirements of a position do not allow for an unvaccinated person to safely perform the requirements of their position on campus with a reasonable accommodation, and no opportunities for transfer to another position exist, the employee will have the option to be placed on leave without pay, apply for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, or take paid time off,” said Clark in an e-mail.