COVID-19 Response weekly update: August 16

COVID-19 response weekly update

Dear colleagues,

Today I write to provide important updates on the vaccination status of our community and a change to our testing requirements.

Vaccination status of Rice community. All undergraduate and graduate students who will be enrolled at Rice for the fall 2021 semester, including those who will study in an online or remote format, must fill out this student form, if they have not already. All faculty and staff must review and update their current vaccine status by completing this short faculty/staff form this week. If your status has changed since you first answered the form, please go back into the form and make sure that the data provided matches your current vaccination status.

90% of our core population of approximately 12,400 has responded to the survey, including incoming students. We need the rest of you to respond now. The results as of today are:

% Responding to Survey % of Total Population of 12,400 Reporting Vaccination
Undergrad Students 98% 94%
Grad Students 86% 80%
Faculty 84% 82%
Staff 87% 80%

It is vital for our planning for the Fall Semester that all employees and students complete the mandatory survey. Failure to complete the survey by this Friday will result in restriction of registration for students and administrative and/or disciplinary actions against employees.

So far, approximately 230 people (1.8% of our total population) who have filled out the survey have indicated they do not intend to be vaccinated.

Testing. Having good and actionable information on infections in our community is critical over the coming weeks as the number of positive cases in the Houston area continues to rise. Thus, we increasing our testing requirements for at least the next month or two. They are as follows:

  • Fully vaccinated people coming to campus, and coming into routine contact with others, must schedule a test once per week.
  • Unvaccinated people who come to campus, or those who have not answered or updated their status in the vaccine survey to indicate they are fully vaccinated, must test twice per week, regardless of whether they come into contact with other people.

Our testing program with Baylor Genetics, Methodist Hospital and our own LAMP testing is operational, with capacity for at least 5,000 tests this week. It will take a week or two to operate at full capacity, so please be patient if you find limited availability when you schedule a test, which you can do here. The testing site locations and hours are available here.

Unvaccinated students returning to campus should test upon their arrival, test again three to five days after their first test, then begin testing twice weekly. Vaccinated students should schedule a test within the first week after they arrive on campus. We encourage roommates to coordinate their testing on different days of the week.

If you have any COVID-like symptoms at all, do not schedule a test through our on-line portal. Instead, you must fill out a health reporting form and a test for symptomatic people will be scheduled for you. If you feel sick, stay home and notify your supervisor that you will not be reporting for work.

Vaccine clinics. We plan to run a vaccine clinic on campus either August 26 or 27. If you want to be vaccinated before then, we encourage you to seek the COVID-19 vaccine from your primary healthcare provider, or sign up to receive it at one of the Houston area's vaccine hubs linked here.

Testing results. During the past seven days, we administered approximately 1,000 tests for the SARS-CoV-2 virus on the Rice campus. Six people tested positive through the university’s testing program. Later this week, the testing statistics dashboard will return to the COVID-19 website.

Staffing the Crisis Management Team. Our Crisis Management Team could really use your help with an important job. They’re looking for volunteers to do contact tracing. It’s mostly working the phones, talking with students, faculty and staff who might have come in contact with people who test positive for the virus. If you are interested in helping out, please email covid@rice.edu.

And finally, the Provost and Faculty Speaker announced a COVID-19 on-line forum with two distinguished academic leaders from the Texas Medical Center. The forum is this Wednesday, August 18 at 5:00 pm.

Kevin E. Kirby

Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee

Vice President for Administration