COVID-19 Update: Jan. 3, 2022

COVID-19 response weekly update

Dear colleagues,

As the president and the provost wrote in their Dec. 26 message to the campus community, due to the rapidly spreading omicron variant of COVID-19, the university is modifying its plans for the beginning of the semester. The dean of undergraduates and the dean of graduate and post-doctoral studies offered more information in their own messages last week, which you can read here and here. We’re writing today with more specific details about operations during the first couple of weeks of the spring semester.

The semester will start as scheduled on Jan. 10, but courses will be delivered online for the first two weeks, including all classes with over 50 students. Faculty teaching courses with 50 or fewer students will have the option to deliver their courses in person, but they must make accommodations for students who are unable to attend. We intend to return to in-person course delivery on Jan. 24 unless the situation in Houston deteriorates substantially.

Students are strongly encouraged to delay returning to campus for two weeks, including returning to university housing. We’re aware some students have little or no other housing options, so this recommendation is strictly voluntary.

Staff should work remotely to the extent possible with the permission of their supervisor.

Vaccine boosters are required for all employees and students who are not granted a waiver. Employees must submit a copy of their vaccination card that includes information about your booster shot at this link. Students can fill out the form at this link. After you open the link, here’s how to submit a copy of your vaccination card:

  • Complete the Rice SSO login information.
  • Instead of starting a new form, scroll down to your previous entry and click on it.
  • Click the “edit” button on the bottom right.
  • Go to the booster section at the very bottom and enter the date you received your booster shot.
  • Upload a new photo of your vaccine card that includes your booster information.
  • After loading booster information and a new photo of your card, click the “submit” button on the bottom right.

Vaccine clinics will be conducted on campus in the RMC Grand Hall on Thursday, Jan. 13, for first, second and booster shots, and Thursday, Feb. 3, for second and booster shots.

COVID-19 testing on campus will resume on Jan. 3. Given the rapid spread of the omicron variant, testing will also be offered on campus this weekend, Jan. 8 and Jan. 9. You can schedule a test at this link. At this point, the online portal will allow you to schedule a test only through the week of Jan. 10. Test appointments for the rest of the month will be available beginning Jan. 5.

Indoor gatherings, including classes, are limited to 50 people through Jan. 24.

Masks must be worn indoors at all times based on our mask policy.

Research activities can continue, and research facilities and services will remain open.

The Fondren Library will be open only to the Rice community with reduced hours through Jan. 9. Please see library.rice.edu for detailed information. The library will resume its regular hours when classes begin on Jan. 10.

Access to the Fondren Library will be restricted to Rice faculty, staff and students through Jan. 23. Members of the Friends of Fondren Library can access the library by appointment. Again, details are available at library.rice.edu.

The Gibbs Wellness and Recreation Center will reopen Jan. 4. On Tuesday through Friday, the center will be open from 6 a.m.-8 p.m. On Saturday, it will be open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. On Sunday, it will be open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Please see recreation.rice.edu for detailed information.

The Rice Memorial Center will be open with modified operating hours. The RMC will be open 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 4, through Friday, Jan. 7. It will be closed the weekend of Jan. 8 and Jan. 9. Operating hours for Jan. 10 through Jan. 24 will be announced later.

Dining on campus will be restricted through Jan. 23. Everyone must refrain from dining indoors in group settings. Undergraduates may eat inside in their residential college rooms. Graduate students, undergraduates who live off campus, faculty and staff may eat inside an office or another indoor space that affords as much isolation from others as possible. All other dining on campus must occur outdoors through Jan. 23.

  • Only some of the campus serveries will be in operation during the first two weeks of the semester. The decision on which serveries will be open will be based on the number of students returning to campus. The serveries that do open will operate during their normal hours. Please check dining.rice.edu for more information.
  • Brochstein Pavilion and Sammy’s in the RMC will both reopen Jan. 4, but only for carryout service. There will be no indoor seating.
  • The Faculty Club at Cohen House will reopen Jan 5., but only with carryout Curbside at the Club service. There will be no indoor seating.
  • Drinking alcoholic beverages indoors is prohibited on campus through Jan. 23. Willy’s Pub will be closed until Jan. 24. Valhalla will be open, but drinking will be allowed only outdoors.

The campus post office will reopen Jan. 4.

Campus shuttles will operate on their normal schedule. Riders must wear masks at all times aboard the campus shuttles.

We expect to resume a mostly normal semester later this month. Until then, please be careful by wearing a mask when you’re in public and taking other common sense precautions to protect yourself against the virus. We’re looking forward to seeing everyone on campus later this month.

Kevin E. Kirby

Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee

Vice President for Administration