Alpert Medical School Reopening Plan

An update on Academic Planning, Testing and Health Practices - August 11, 2020.

Dear Warren Alpert Medical School Community,

As you know, over the last several months, we completed a plan for the 2020-2021 academic year that would allow medical students to begin or continue their medical education while ensuring the safety of students, faculty, staff and the community for which we care. Following up on the letter you received earlier today from President Christina Paxson announcing Brown’s modified plans for Fall 2020 in light of the global pandemic, we are writing to remind you of our plans for the Medical School and provide you with some important updates.

Under the Medical School’s plan, we will follow the typical two-semester system with changes to modes of instruction, as well as the implementation of strict protocols for personal health, distancing, and cleaning that will be essential for safeguarding the well-being of our community. The Medical School’s full plan, which was submitted to the State of Rhode Island and reviewed by the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), can be found on our website.

Our decision-making around these plans was guided by the following principles:

  1. Continue to deliver an innovative, evidence-based curriculum that creates an optimal educational experience for all medical students and fulfills the requirements set forth by our accrediting body;
  2. Use a variety of pedagogical methodologies including, but not limited to, lecture, small groups and clinical experiences; and
  3. Adhere to best practice guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and RIDOH in regard to physical distancing and other safety precautions.


As previously communicated, a current executive order requires people arriving in Rhode Island from states listed here with a SARS-CoV-2 positivity rate of greater than 5% either to self-quarantine for 14 days or produce proof of a negative test that was taken within 72 hours prior to arrival in Rhode Island. If you receive a test after arriving in Rhode Island and get a negative result, you can stop quarantining. Updates to this requirement can be found on the RIDOH website at

Testing and Contact Tracing for Medical Students

COVID-19 testing is mandatory for all Brown community members who are authorized to be regularly on campus (testing costs will be paid by Brown). Based on our ongoing commitment to the health and safety of our community, it has now been decided that Year 1 and Year 2 medical students, and Gateways students, will be tested twice (2X) per week. Symptom tracking and contact tracing are also elements of the testing program. Testing will begin the week of August 24 in the OMAC (Olney Margolies Athletic Center) where there is ample space to accommodate the large number of students and employees who will need to be tested. All Brown community members who are authorized to be on campus and therefore subject to mandatory testing will receive information about how to enroll and schedule their baseline test, and further tests thereafter.

The CDC and RIDOH guidelines for health care personnel will apply to Year 3 and Year 4 medical students so they will not be included in the testing program.

If medical students are exposed or develop symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), are waiting for SARS-CoV-2 test results, or have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, Brown University Health Services can arrange testing if necessary and determine a plan of care, including isolation and guidance for return-to-work/school. Students should refer to the COVID-19 Guide for Alpert Medical Students.

Public Health Practices

With the safety of our community of utmost concern, policies and procedures are in place that anyone entering the Medical School building or other Brown campus facilities is expected to adhere to. We have already been working with Facilities Management to increase cleaning of the building, with attention to high-touch surfaces.

Other steps include:

  • Maintaining physical distancing;
  • Wearing face masks and coverings at all times within the building; and
  • Self-monitoring symptoms and staying away from campus or a clinical assignment if you experience symptoms associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Medical students are expected to adhere to the COVID-19 procedures as part of the principles of professionalism and standards of student conduct. Failure to follow these procedures for COVID-19 will be considered violations of the Code of Student Conduct

To ensure the safety and wellness of our community, all students, faculty and staff must follow the COVID-19 Campus Safety Policy, which has been expanded from the original COVID-19 Workplace Safety Policy to encompass all teaching, research, learning, work and other activities that are authorized to take place at Brown.

Need for Flexibility

As physicians and physicians-in-training, we know better than anyone that this pandemic is unpredictable. While the Medical School and the University are preparing for every potential scenario, we ask that you understand that we may have to adjust part or all of these plans in the coming year. We will continue to monitor and adhere to CDC and RIDOH guidelines, and to comply with any policies put forth by the University.

We have established a page on the Medical School’s website where this and any future information we can provide will be posted. Please bookmark this page and refer back to it as questions come up. Deans Allan Tunkel, Paul George, and Roxanne Vrees will continue to meet regularly with each class via Zoom to ensure that students have the most up-to-date information and have opportunities to have all of their questions answered.

We are confident that by working together as a community we can meet the challenges this global pandemic presents.



Jack A. Elias, MD                                                       Allan R. Tunkel, MD, PhD
Senior Vice President for Health Affairs                     Senior Associate Dean for Medical
Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences                Education