COVID-19 Update: February 21, 2022

COVID-19 response weekly update

Dear colleagues,

The current wave of COVID-19 cases continues to decline, so we are announcing changes to our indoor mask policy.

Effective today, masks are required indoors only for gatherings of more than 25 people.

  • This policy does not apply to classrooms, where masks are still required at all times, except for instructors while they are lecturing.
  • If you have not yet been fully vaccinated, you must wear a mask indoors at all times. [Rice defines fully vaccinated as having received the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna regime plus a booster shot, or the one-shot J&J vaccine plus a booster.]

We can’t write a mask policy that will apply to every circumstance you’ll encounter on campus. While we’ve stipulated a specific gathering size threshold that triggers the indoor mask requirement, it’s a surrogate for density, but not common sense, while getting back to a condition that’s as close as possible to normal. Thus, it’s not about the precise total number of people in a defined and enclosed space, but rather your proximity to others for more than a few minutes. When you’re on campus – or anywhere else, for that matter – use your best judgment on when to wear a mask. You should always carry a mask with you, and err on the side of caution anytime you’re in a situation where you’re wondering whether you should wear it. And when it’s possible and practical, take advantage of our beautiful campus and hold your class, meeting, or event outdoors.

For people who have special health concerns or want the confidence of a higher level of protection, a well-fitted KN95 mask offers better protection for the user than cloth and disposable surgical masks. You can see the latest CDC guide for masks here. We have a good supply of KN95 masks and you can order them here.

We expect a further relaxation of the indoor mask policy in the coming weeks if the current COVID wave continues to recede.

Kevin E. Kirby

Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee

Vice President for Administration