COVID-19 response important updates: April 23

COVID-19 response weekly update

Dear colleagues,

I write with two very important updates – one regarding our face mask policy and another revising our testing requirements.

Thanks to everyone who has helped by filling out our vaccine survey; 82% of our core population of 11,000 has responded. We now have a much better understanding of our public health environment. We still ask the remaining members of our community who haven’t responded to provide information on their current vaccine status by completing this short form.

% Responding to Survey

% of Total Population Reporting Vaccination

Undergrad Students

94%

87%

Grad Students

69%

61%

Faculty

76%

72%

Staff

81%

72%

Mask Policy. Because at least 74% of our core population has received one or two doses of the vaccine, as well as the general COVID-19 environment on campus and throughout Houston, we are making the following changes to our face mask policy:

  • Outdoors. Effective immediately, Rice’s requirement to wear a mask outdoors on campus is rescinded, with the following provisions:
    • Please maintain a minimum of 3 feet of separation from others at all times. When that’s not possible, or when you find yourself in a crowd, wear a mask.
    • Use your mask and keep physically distant from others as you enter or leave the areas just outside of building entrances and exits.
    • You must wear a mask while riding Rice shuttle buses.
  • Indoors. The requirement to wear a mask indoors at all times remains in effect, except when you’re alone in your own enclosed office, which is used only by you, or when you’re in your own residential dorm suite.

Given these requirements, you should always carry a mask while you’re anywhere on campus.

You can see the latest guidance from the CDC on masks here.

Testing. Based upon CDC guidance, people who have been fully vaccinated no longer need to be tested, although the service remains available to you. However, weekly testing is still required for those who come to the campus regularly and have not been vaccinated or have not answered the vaccine survey.

As a result of our new testing protocols, we will reduce our testing capacity. The Abercrombie (Houston Methodist) testing site will be permanently closed on April 30. Testing will still be conducted by Baylor Genetics in the East Gym and the LAMP test will still be available at the Roost. Rice will continue to have an on-campus testing capability throughout the summer and fall semesters.

Kevin E. Kirby

Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee

Vice President for Administration