Message from the DOU: Undergraduate Testing Update

Message from the DOU: Undergraduate Testing Update

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Dear Students –

Greetings from Rice – again! I am certainly setting a record with the number of messages I have sent out to you over the last few months.

My message today focuses on testing, in a few parts.

First, sign up for testing on arrival to campus for returning students who are living off campus is now open. As a reminder, we have scheduled PCR testing for this group of students on the Thursday and Friday of OWeek (August 20 and 21) as well as during the first two days of classes (August 24 or 25). To sign up, please click the link below, and use this Security Code when prompted: 56782145

As I stated in my previous message, you may not attend classes in person or be on campus for any reason until you receive a negative PCR result. As soon as you complete your PCR test, please return to your off campus residence and wait for your test result (which should arrive within 24-48 hours). If your initial testing happens during the first week of classes, you are required to participate remotely in all classes until you receive a negative test result.

If you receive a positive PCR test result, plan to isolate at your off campus residence, or, if you have roommates you may choose to come to Sid Richardson. This ensures your wellbeing and the wellbeing of those you live with off-campus. Our Student Health Services and Wellbeing offices will contact you for a televisit; you can also contact them at 713-348-4966 for Student Health Services and 713-348-3311 for Wellbeing.

Second, we will be testing all undergraduates on a weekly basis throughout the fall semester. Whether you live on or off campus, following your initial test on arrival, you are required to report for PCR testing each week.

As an example, our first cohort of students who arrived on campus were our student presidents, some students who serve as Chief Justice at their college, and our OWeek Coordinators. At their arrival to campus on July 28, they were given a rapid test. Last week, we followed up with PCR testing – and they have signed up again for PCR testing this week. This weekly testing will continue for this group going forward. All other students who will be on campus this fall, including those who reside on campus and off campus, will have a similar experience: an initial test on arrival, and then cycling into a weekly testing schedule from that point forward.

For undergraduates who arrived earlier this week, our OWeek Advisors and Affiliates, as well as any other student was previously tested and has yet to sign up for their follow up PCR test, please sign up now for testing later this week (tomorrow or Friday) or on Monday of next week. To schedule your appointment, click on the link below and use this security code when prompted: 83590137.

So, for all undergraduate students, please make sure that after you arrive and have your initial test on campus that you then sign up, each week, for a PCR throughout all of fall semester. This is required of all students. We will be messaging out to you on a regular basis on this, please take care to be proactive and secure a testing time that works for you.

Please note that the testing process I have described is for asymptomatic screening testing. We are also operating a separate location on campus for those who are symptomatic and require testing. Students who feel unwell should contact Student Health Services at 713-348-4966 and they will arrange for you to be tested.

We are currently trying to assess the feasibility of establishing a scheduler for all students to select a standing weekly test time for the remainder of the semester. For now, however, since we need to accommodate different student arrival schedules (and since course schedules are not set yet for many students), we will continue to message out each week with a link and passcode for testing sign up.

Please know that other members of the Rice community will also be PCR tested on a regular and recurring basis this fall semester. Some of our faculty and staff, those with a significant level of contact with others, will be tested more frequently than others. For example, residential college core teams (Magisters, RAs, and College Coordinators), our housing and dining staff, and others will also be PCR tested on a weekly basis.

Third, I want to clarify some distinctions in our testing procedures for this semester. As I described in my previous message on testing, on arrival for move-in to campus, students receive a point-of-care molecular test. We have contracted with CVS for the administration of these tests, with results available within about 30 minutes. Following this, and on a weekly basis, students will get a molecular test (commonly known as a PCR test). Off campus returning students are given a RT-PCR test on first arrival to campus, as previously described.

We have two providers for RT-PCR testing this semester, Baylor Genetics and Houston Methodist Hospital. RT-PCR tests have the highest sensitivity and specificity for identifying active coronavirus infection.

CVS and Baylor are self-administered tests that are supervised by medical testing personnel, using nasal swabs. Medical staff from Houston Methodist collect the nasal swabs (these are not self-administered tests). Decisions regarding the method for nasal swab administration were made by the testing provider. The Centers for Disease Control has determined that either of these testing methods is acceptable.

Finally, please remember, if you were diagnosed with COVID-19 prior to returning to campus please notify Student Health Services by calling 713-348-4966. They will need copies of your test results to assist us in properly determining your testing needs at Rice.

If you have any questions about our testing procedures for fall semester, feel free to contact me at

Bridget Gorman, Dean of Undergraduates