COVID-19 Response weekly update: August 30

COVID-19 response weekly update

Dear colleagues,

Today I write to report on testing results, vaccination status and the annual flu shot.

Testing. We’ve seen a rise in cases over the past week. We have run about 5,900 tests through Rice testing over the last seven days and there were 40 positive results (approximately 30% of which came from one specific campus event). Many have minor symptoms, similar to a cold or flu, and none have been hospitalized, which is consistent with the evidence that vaccines prevent serious illness.

  • The testing dashboard can be found on the COVID -19 website along with a glossary of key terms, a new resource we hope will help clear up misunderstandings about words and phrases used in connection with the coronavirus.
  • You can schedule a test here. The testing site locations and hours are available here. Note that testing will be conducted Sunday and Monday over the Labor Day weekend.
  • If you have any COVID-like symptoms at all, do not schedule a test through our online 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. If you are an employee, notify your supervisor that you will not be reporting for work and use your COVID-19 sick days.
  • Beginning this week, schools, divisions and departments will receive reports indicating whether individual faculty, staff and students are complying with the university testing policy. As a reminder, everyone who comes to the campus on a regular basis must comply with Rice’s testing protocol. Fully vaccinated people must schedule a test once a week and unvaccinated people must schedule a test twice a week.

Later this week, we will have collected three weeks of data about the state of COVID-19 in our campus community. The assessment of this information, along with data from the greater Houston area, will inform whether we will implement any changes to our current policies and plans, including when we will resume in-person classroom instruction. Additional communications will be forthcoming later this week.

Vaccination status of Rice community. Our vaccination survey results show that 91% of our overall community of 12,400 is vaccinated. The actual percentage is higher because some people have indicated they are in the process of getting vaccinated, and not quite everyone has filled out the survey. About 2% of our total population who have filled out the survey have indicated they do not intend to get vaccinated.

Annual Flu Shots. Getting your annual flu shot is more important than ever. Influenza and COVID-19 are both potentially serious, contagious respiratory illnesses that share many of the same symptoms. An informative CDC primer on the similarities and differences between the flu and COVID-19 can be found here.

Students. For graduate and undergraduate students, the flu shot is required. Students can get the vaccine in a number of ways:

  • By getting a shot through a doctor or pharmacy.
  • By making an appointment with Student Health Services at 713-348-4966. The shots at SHS cost $18, but students will receive a coded receipt they can submit to their insurance companies for reimbursement. Aetna student health plans cover the full cost. These shots will be available in mid-September.
  • By attending one of the flu shot clinics available on campus. (See below.)
  • Students should submit proof of vaccination through this form no later than Oct. 30, 2021. Students who want to opt-out for religious or medical reasons should note that on the form; they will be contacted by our medical team.

Employees. Faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to get a flu shot. They can get flu shots from their health care provider, from a pharmacy, or through one of the vaccination clinics on campus.

On-Campus Clinics. Beginning this week, Student Health and Human Resources in partnership with Walgreens will be offering the seasonal flu vaccine (the quadrivalent vaccine) on campus. There will be special shots available for those over the age of 65. No appointment is necessary to get a flu shot on the first floor of the Cambridge Office Building at the following times:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 31: 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 1: 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 2: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 7: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 8: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 9: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Sept 14: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Students should bring their insurance cards along with a credit card just in case their insurance card is not accepted. Most insurance companies cover the full cost with no copay. Employees should bring their Rice identification cards because employees pay nothing for the flu shot.

Kevin E. Kirby

Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee

Vice President for Administration