COVID FAQs

COVID Frequently Asked Questions

If you don't see your question answered here, reach out to one of the groups listed below:


Campus-Wide Policy Questions

Q. What is the university mask policy?

A. This policy can be found here: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/policies. Please check this page regularly for updates.

Q. Will COVID occupancy for interior spaces still be in place this fall?

A. We expect that by the start of fall classes there will be no indoor COVID-19 occupancy limits, except in very limited circumstances where the characteristics of the space are not conducive to the activity or a higher density. We don't expect these circumstances to arise often and they will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Q. What COVID policies apply to campus visitors? Do they need to be tested or vaccinated to come to campus?

A. Visitors to campus must follow all campus COVID policies in place at the time, which are listed here: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/policies. For example, if visitors are not fully vaccinated, they must wear a mask when indoors at all times.

Housing and Dining Questions

Q. Can I eat inside campus buildings if I am not vaccinated?

A. As detailed in the Rice Face Mask policy (found here: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/policies), anyone who is not vaccinated must wear a mask when indoors, except when they're actively eating or drinking, or when students are inside their own rooms within a residential college or when faculty/staff are inside a private office.

Q. What will the process be to request room changes if students have concerns with the vaccination status of their assigned roommate?

A. Students with these concerns should discuss it with their roommate(s), and decide whether they are comfortable with their current room assignment for the fall semester. Students who would like to switch rooms should contact their residential college magisters to discuss options. That said, please be advised that bed capacity is fully assigned for the fall semester, meaning that open rooms and beds may not be available. Graduate students with these concerns should talk with the housing manager. Students who are uncomfortable with the possibility of living with an unvaccinated student may choose to live off-campus, and they will not be charged for breaking their lease should they decide against living on campus before the fall semester begins.

Q. Will families be allowed inside of residential spaces (residential colleges, graduate student apartments) to help students move in?

A. All families, including those who have traveled to Houston, are welcome to help their student move onto campus. That includes students with families from outside of the United States. Please remember that everyone who comes to the campus must abide by all campuswide COVID policies, found here: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/policies. Anyone who is not vaccinated must wear a mask when they're inside campus buildings.

COVID Testing, Quarantine and Isolation, and Illness Questions

Q. Is on-campus testing for COVID-19 required?

A. Yes, but it is waived for students, faculty, and staff who have disclosed to the university that they are vaccinated. Any unvaccinated student must schedule an “on arrival” COVID test to coincide with their arrival at Rice as well as a follow-up test for three to four days after the “on arrival” test. (Tests can be scheduled at this link: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/schedule-test. During the academic year, unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff must be tested on campus weekly. Please note that testing dates are posted for scheduling about one month in advance, so August dates will be posted in July.

Q. How do I schedule a COVID-19 test?

A. Schedule a test here. Appointment availability for scheduling tests is typically released about a month in advance. If you have any problems logging into the Veoci system, please see this instruction sheet first; after that, if you are still having trouble, email helpdesk@rice.edu.

Q. Can I schedule a same-day COVID-19 test at Rice?

A. Testing at Rice must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. Please note that test scheduling is available Sunday through Thursday over the summer. Appointment availability for test scheduling is typically released about a month in advance.

Q. When and where is COVID-19 testing available at Rice?

A. COVID testing is administered in the Space Science Building, room 106, by appointment only at this link: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/schedule-test. Hours of operation are currently Sunday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. until noon, and then on Thursdays from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. Fall hours will be announced later. Testing appointment times are typically released a month in advance, so August appointments will be available in July.

Q. I did not receive my test results or I'm having trouble accessing my test results message. What should I do?

A. Please check your Proofpoint spam filter to see if your results email was captured there. You can also email covidlamp@rice.edu for help.

Q. What type of COVID-19 test does Rice administer?

A. Rice administers the COVID LAMP test. LAMP is a saliva test, developed by researchers in the Rice University Department of Bioengineering. The test is different than a traditional PCR test because it uses a technology called loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP). LAMP accomplishes the same end goal as PCR - amplifying RNA to detectable levels - but does so at a single temperature instead of through thermocycling. Its accuracy is equal to that of a PCR test. More information on LAMP can be found at the following links:

Typical results are expected within 12 hours, but they could take up to 48 hours.

Q. Can the LAMP Test be used for travel clearance?

A. No, the LAMP Test is administered under university surveillance testing guidelines and it is unlikely that countries or organizations will accept this as documentation required for travel clearance. Please contact your primary care provider or an urgent care clinic to receive a PCR test for travel clearance.

Q. Will students be required to quarantine prior to arrival at Rice for Orientation Week at the start of classes?

A. No. Both domestic and international students who are vaccinated with approved vaccines do not need to quarantine and test when they move in. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students will need to refrain from activities that bring them into contact with other people (other than picking up meals) until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result. Unvaccinated students should schedule a test when they first arrive on campus or in Houston, followed by a second test 3 to 4 days after the first test.

Q. How will quarantine and isolation operate this fall semester for students exposed to a person with COVID, or if they themselves are positive?

A. Unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 will quarantine in their personal space (their residential college rooms, their RVA/RGA apartments, or in their own home). Vaccinated students will not need to quarantine due to exposure. Student Health Services will monitor students in isolation for any changes in their health. Faculty and staff should be monitored by their personal physicians and they are expected to be cleared by their health care provider before returning to campus. Undergraduate students living on campus who test positive for COVID-19 will be moved to their own room with private bathrooms until Student Health Services clears them to leave.

Q. If I receive a positive result, what should I do?

A. Students should immediately contact Student Health Services. Employees should immediately contact their primary care physician for an appointment. Employees who test positive should not come to work and should notify their supervisors. Students will need to retest and receive two negative PCR tests at an off-campus location or isolate for 10 days.

Q. What do I do if someone I have been in contact with tests positive for COVID-19?

A. If you are a student, please contact Student Health Services. If you are faculty and staff, please contact your primary health care provider.

Q. What should I do if I am vaccinated, but start to experience COVID-like systems?

A. Students who experience any COVID-like symptoms should schedule an appointment with Student Health Services for further evaluation. Faculty and staff should reach out to their health care provider for further evaluation.

COVID Vaccination Questions

Q. Is the COVID-19 vaccination required for all Rice Students?

A. Our expectation is that students will be generally vaccinated. By July 2, all enrolled students (undergraduates and graduates, including in-person and remote attendees) must fill out this student form detailing their testing status for the fall semester, for an instruction sheet, click this link. Students who are vaccinated and want to be exempted from our COVID testing program -- or other requirements such as wearing a mask indoors -- should follow the instructions detailed in the link above. Students who do not vaccinate must participate in weekly testing for COVID-19 while enrolled in person, and adhere to all COVID policies as described here: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/policies.

Q. What is the waiver process for vaccine exemption for students?

A. We have moved away from a formal waiver process. Instead, all students are required to log in and fill out this form by July 2 and answer the prompted questions, for an instruction sheet, click this link. Under this system, students will be able to indicate if they do not plan to get vaccinated. Students who are not vaccinated are required to participate in Rice's weekly COVID-19 testing program and other COVID-19 policies, listed on this website: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/policies.

Q. For students who are vaccinated before they arrive on campus, will vaccinations be available through Rice? If not, where can they go to get the vaccine?

A. At this time, we do not intend to provide vaccine clinics on campus. We will release a notification if this changes. Vaccines are readily available in many places around Houston, including close to campus. Walmart, CVS, Sam's Club, and Walgreens are all offering appointments and a drive-up vaccination option, and vaccines are now available at NRG Stadium with no appointment necessary. This public health website has specific information that includes a link to more providers: https://publichealth.harriscountytx.gov/Resources/2019-Novel-Coronavirus/Local-COVID-19-Vaccine-Providers.

Q. Will faculty, college magisters, or staff be informed of a student's vaccination status?

A. No. While vaccination status is not protected health information under HIPAA, we will not disclose an individual student’s vaccination status unless needed or authorized by a university health professional to respond to a specific situation.

Please remember that everyone (students, faculty, staff, and visitors) is expected to abide by university policies regarding COVID, which are detailed here: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/policies. This includes rules regarding mask use for people who not vaccinated. Should you have a concern about a student not abiding by these policies, please email Associate Dean Allison Vogt at avogt@rice.edu.

Q. Will supervisors or managers be informed of an employee's vaccination status? Can I ask my coworkers about their vaccination status?

A. Supervisors are allowed to ask their staff about their vaccination status if there is a legitimate business need to know but should treat an employee's vaccinated status as confidential. Supervisors are encouraged to ensure that non-vaccinated staff are following the proper procedures of weekly testing and mask-wearing.

Please remember that everyone (students, faculty, staff, and visitors) is expected to abide by university policies regarding COVID, which are detailed here: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/policies. This includes rules regarding mask use for people who not vaccinated.

Q. How much does it cost to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

A. You can receive a COVID-19 vaccination free of charge, although some locations may ask for insurance information and bill your insurance carrier, but insurance is not required.

Q. Can I be exempted from the Rice COVID testing program if I receive an international vaccine? Should people who received vaccines not approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) be revaccinated?

A. International vaccines approved by the CDC or the WHO will be accepted on campus. Both organizations update vaccine approvals regularly, and the university will continue to monitor information related to all vaccines for any updates on recommendations or changes. Please review this link to see if the vaccine you have received is approved by the WHO.

Rice is not recommending new vaccinations for people who received a vaccine that does not meet the WHO requirements. If you are considering getting a second round of vaccine, please consult with your physician about whether counter-interactions may occur. Persons who are vaccinated with a vaccine not approved by the WHO must take a COVIDtest when they first arrive on campus and continue to test weekly until either their vaccine has been approved or their medical doctor clears them to receive an approved vaccine.

Q. Do remote students have to be vaccinated?

A. As previously announced, classes are expected to be in person this fall. However, if a student is a part of an online-only program or is studying from abroad, and the student does not plan to visit campus for any reason, we encourage but do not require them, to be vaccinated and they are exempted from participating in our campus COVID testing program as long as they live off-campus.

Q. If someone is symptomatic, should a vaccination appointment be rescheduled?

A. Yes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, vaccination of people with known current SARS-CoV-2 infection should be deferred until the person has recovered from the acute illness (if the person had symptoms) and they have met the criteria to discontinued isolation. This recommendation applies to people who develop SARS-CoV-2 infection after the first dose but before receiving the second dose.

International Student Questions

Q. How late in the fall semester can an international student arrive on campus?

A. Undergraduate students who are new matriculants are expected to arrive in time to attend O-Week. However, if you cannot arrive by then, your I-20 allows you to arrive no later than August 23, 2021, the first day of classes. If you cannot arrive by that date, you may petition the Dean of Undergraduates' office to arrive no later than September 3, 2021. If you're approved, you will get a new I-20 to enter the USA. Please email your petition to ugdean@rice.edu. Upperclass undergraduate students need to arrive no later than September 3, 2021.

Graduate students are also generally expected to arrive for orientation but will need to arrive by August 23, 2021, unless they have permission from their academic department to miss some days of classes. International students generally must arrive by September 3, 2021, for their visas to be valid for fall matriculation. If you are not able to meet this deadline for any reason, please send an email to graduate@rice.edu.

For continuing (returning) students, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), along with Customs and Border Protection (CBP, at the port-of-entry), allow you to arrive 30 days after the first day of classes. That said, the issue of your courses being online while you are abroad also needs prior approval from the Dean of Undergraduates (for undergraduates), or the academic department (for graduate students). In addition, to do this you must be in active SEVIS F-1 or J-1 visa status. For details on your immigration status, please reach out to the Office of International Students and Scholars (oiss.rice.edu).

Q. Who will write a letter verifying physical presence in the US for international vaccines?

A. The Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) will write letters stating the Rice University will be offering on-campus classes.

Q. Do I need to take a COVID test in order to fly to the United States?

A. Different countries have different documentation and testing requirements. Please check with your home country and airline provider. Also, visit the CDC website before leaving your home country for any updated instructions about entering the United States.

Who to contact if you still have questions

If you have additional questions not answered here, here is the contact information for the office that may be able to help.