Message from the DOU (July 16): Pre-Arrival Health Behaviors and Supply List for Fall Semester

Message from the DOU (July 16): Pre-Arrival Health Behaviors and Supply List for Fall Semester

July 16, 2020 2:57 pm

Dear students –

We are writing today with some important health-related information. Please read this message carefully. We hope that, like us, you see yourself as an important part of a large and interconnected community at Rice. This interdependence means we have a shared responsibility for keeping our campus as healthy as possible. As you prepare for the upcoming year at Rice, we ask that you reflect on steps you can take to promote your health and the health of others while you live and learn together – and how you can start this process before you even arrive to campus.

First, to the best of your ability, please engage in the following behaviors prior to your arrival at Rice:

  • If possible, be tested for COVID-19 at home, and time your test so you can get results just before your departure for Rice. If your test is positive, please remain at home and contact Dean Gorman at ugdean@rice.edu so we can assist you in starting classes in a remote format, and other accommodations as needed during fall semester.
  • In addition, if you have previously had a positive COVID-19 test and have recovered, please share this history with us by contacting Student Health Services. Our physicians will review your case and lab results to determine if you might have a false positive result on initial testing that will occur when you arrive on campus. You can upload this information to the Box on the website www.health.rice.edu or fax it to 713-348-5427. Please provide your student ID and contact information - phone and email - for follow up questions about your illness and recovery.
  • Please engage in excellent preventive health behaviors during the 14 days prior to your arrival on campus. Avoid public places and events – and when you are outside of your home and in the presence of other people, always wear a face covering and practice good physical distancing. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds throughout the day, using soap and water. Please remember: you will be tested for COVID-19 immediately on arrival and if positive, will spend at least 10 days in isolation housing. Be wise and safe so you can enjoy your first weeks on campus.

Also, please remember that as a degree-seeking student, you are required to have health insurance coverage while enrolled at Rice. You must either enroll in a Rice Student Health Insurance Plan or request a waiver by demonstrating comparable insurance coverage. For more information, please visit https://studenthealthinsurance.rice.edu/

Second, please plan now so that you travel safely to Rice. Below are some travel safety tips to help get you to Rice healthy and ready for a strong start to your semester. Most importantly, do not travel if you are sick with any illness, or if you have been around someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. Do not travel with someone who is sick. In addition, please follow these CDC guidelines on how to protect yourself and others during your trip:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, after touching surfaces frequently touched by others, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and before touching your face or eating.
  • If soap and water are not available, bring and use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with others (maintain at least six feet of physical distance from others).
  • Wear a cloth face covering in public.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • While you travel, pick up food from restaurants and stores that provide drive-through or curbside pickup options, or bring your own.
  • Avoid public restrooms, if possible.

Plan now and anticipate your travel needs before you leave for Rice:

  • Bring enough of your medicines to last you for the entire trip.
  • Pack enough alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and keep it within easy to reach.
  • Bring several cloth face coverings to wear in public places.
  • Prepare food and water for your trip. Pack non-perishable food in case restaurants and stores are closed.
  • Take steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 when booking accommodations or planning an overnight stay.
  • If you are considering cleaning your travel lodgings, see CDC’s guidance on how to clean and disinfect.

Be sure to follow state and local travel restrictions during your trip. For up-to-date information and travel guidance, check the state or local health department where you are, along your route, and at your planned destination. Plan to keep checking for updates as you travel.

Please be diligent and recognize that travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19. We don’t know if one type of travel is safer than others; however, airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are all places travelers can be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces. These are also places where it can be hard to physically distance from others. As such, please consider and plan accordingly as you travel to Rice, given the following risks associated with different forms of travel.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from COVID-19 on different types of transportation, please see the CDC’s website Protect Yourself When Using Transportation. It includes safety recommendations for all types of transportation, including airplanes, cars (including rideshare), public transportation, and others.

Finally, as you prepare to come to Rice, please be planning now for important items to bring with you. Because of the specific issues surrounding the semester ahead, we have prepared a supply list of special items to add to your regular packing list, detailed below. Please note that two of these items (face coverings/masks and thermometers) are required for all students to have, and a lightweight folding chair that is appropriate for outdoor use is highly recommended:

  • Face Coverings/Masks (for daily use, so please bring enough to wear between laundering)**
  • Thermometer (necessary for daily health screenings)**
  • Lightweight, outdoor folding chair (to facilitate increased use of outdoor spaces)**
  • Insect repellent
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Reusable cooling neck scarf
  • Hand held personal fan
  • Umbrella with UV protection
  • Sunscreen
  • Sharpie to label items
  • Personal hand sanitizer with refills
  • First aid kit, including:
    • Acetaminophen
    • Ibuprofen
    • Antihistamine (Claritin, Allegra)
    • Sore throat lozenges
    • Cough drops
    • Bandages of varying sizes
    • Decongestant
    • Diarrhea medicine (Imodium)
    • Antibiotic ointment
    • Anti-itch cream (for insect bites)
    • Copy of insurance card
    • Tissues

**If you need assistance procuring face coverings, thermometers, or portable chairs, please contact your residential college Magisters or college coordinator.

In addition, please be sure to save these important numbers in your phone:

  • Rice University Police Department/Rice Emergency Services: 713-348-6000
  • Rice Student Health Services: 713-348-4966
  • Rice Wellbeing and Counseling Center: 713-348-3311
  • Emergency services: 911 (only for OFF campus students)

We hope you all have found this message helpful in thinking about how to prepare for your arrival at Rice. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Bridget Gorman, Dean of Undergraduates

Jessica McKelvey, Director of Student Health Services