Message from the DOU: Update on Fall Move-In and COVID-19 Testing

Message from the DOU: Update on Fall Move-In and COVID-19 Testing

Tuesday, July 28, 2020 7:22 pm

Dear Students –

Today I am writing with an update on the following topics for fall semester:

  • Coronavirus testing procedures for students who will be on campus this fall.
  • Move-in schedule and procedures for students who will live on campus.

Coronavirus Testing

As soon as you come to campus for fall semester you will be tested for SARS-COV-2 (coronavirus), the virus that causes COVID-19. Our testing strategy for undergraduate students is organized into two phases. Please note: All testing will occur on the Rice campus, and all testing is free of charge to students.

Phase 1, for students moving on campus:Rapid test on arrival for students moving on campus. We have contracted with CVS who will use point-of-care molecular tests when students first arrive to move into the residential colleges. Results from these tests are available within 30 minutes, and students who test negative may immediately move into their residential college. Students who test positive may move into Sid Richardson college, unless they choose to go home and recover under the care of their family.

Molecular tests (commonly known as PCR tests) when students first come to campus. We have contracted with two vendors, Baylor Genetics and Houston Methodist Hospital, to administer PCR tests throughout the fall semester. These tests have the highest sensitivity (true positive rate) and specificity (true negative rate) for identifying active coronavirus infection. Prior to starting classes, off campus students will come to campus for testing and then immediately return home to await their test result (available within 48 hours).

Beginning the first week of classes, August 24, all students who will be on our campus this fall semester will be scheduled on a regular and recurring basis for PCR testing. As with Phase 1 testing, this is an asymptomatic screening test. Throughout fall semester, any student who is symptomatic for COVID-19 will be tested on demand and in addition to our asymptomatic screening process.

Students who are fully remote and will not study or participate in any activities on the Rice campus during fall semester will not be tested. Faculty and staff who come to campus will also be tested during the semester, please read this message for more information on our campus testing process. If any member of the Rice community tests positive for coronavirus, we will employ CDC contact tracing protocols to identify other persons who have had significant contact with that person and may need to quarantine and be tested.

We will use Everbridge to provide an automated contact tracing tool in addition to manual contract tracing teams. We have partnered with Google and are constructing a data analytics platform for integrating campus data on testing and health screening to help us monitor the health of our campus on a population level. All students will be provided with details on Everbridge, which we will also use as our health screening app, prior to the start of classes. In addition, by the start of classes we will launch an online dashboard designed to provide an overview of COVID-19 statistics on our campus.

Schedule for Testing on Arrival and Move-In Procedures

You arrival time is determined by your coronavirus testing appointment – please do not arrive prior this time, as you will not be allowed to move into your room until you have been tested. Testing on arrival is required for all students, even if you tested prior to arrival at Rice. If you arrive to Houston outside of the testing times, including in the link below, please make arrangements to stay off campus until your scheduled testing appointment.

As a reminder, greater Houston area returning students are required to place their belongings in their rooms between now and July 31, or between August 3-7. For greater Houston area new students, we are providing the opportunity to drop off belongings between August 12-14. This process is being managed by each residential college, so if you haven’t done so already, please contact your college coordinator or magister for information on how to sign up for a drop off time slot. Please take care to arrive promptly for your scheduled drop off window, and keep in mind that you may not linger in the college – after unloading your items and placing them in your room, you must promptly leave and not return to campus until your scheduled testing time.

Testing appointments at move-in are limited by the schedule as outlined in my July 1 message:

  • O-Week Advisors and Affiliates will be tested and move in on August 10 or 11 – click below to schedule your appointment.
  • New students will be tested and move in on August 15 or 16 – click below to schedule your appointment.
  • Returning on campus students will be tested and move in on August 22 or 23 – click below to schedule your appointment.
  • For student athletes previously approved to move on campus August 3, you will receive instructions on testing on arrival from the Athletics department.

For ON CAMPUS STUDENTS ONLY - click here to schedule your appointment

If you test negative, you can proceed directly to your college for move in. For those of you who are not driving your own car (e.g., if you are taking an Uber from the airport), please unload your bags at the testing location. We will have the Rice shuttle running (with new rules in place that limit capacity and have all riders physically distance) from the testing locations to the colleges, you can catch one after your testing is complete.

When you arrive at your college, you can unload your belongings from your car and proceed with move in. Please note, any family or friends who travel with you may not enter the residential college building. There will be carts available for moving items up to your room, and for new students who arrive for Orientation Week, your OWeek Advisors will be there to assist you with moving in your belongings. As was detailed in the Culture of Care Agreement that I sent last week, no visitors (including family) are allowed in the residential colleges. Even if they have tested for coronavirus prior to arrival at Rice, your family and friends who travel with you to campus will not be tested for coronavirus on arrival. We also must take care to reduce crowding in order to keep the move in process as safe as possible. For these reasons, please plan to say goodbyes after you finish unloading your car. We very much regret this, but hope you understand why this is necessary.

If you test positive, you may choose to either return home (with your family, if they are with you) or stay in isolation housing at Rice. If you return home, you will be contacted by a physician to review your case and determine when you can return to campus, as well as an academic advisor to discuss your courses and the semester ahead. If you choose to stay in isolation at Rice, you will be assigned a room at Sid Richardson College, and you will proceed directly there following your positive test result.

For this reason, all students on arrival should be prepared that this may happen; have a bag ready with your essential supplies to take with you for 1-2 weeks. Instructions will be provided on what to do with the remainder of your belongings at that time. Rooms at Sid Richardson will include a variety of supplies (including linens, towels, over-the-counter cold medications, a thermometer and a pulsox monitor) as well as a microwave, refrigerator, and bottled water supply. All students will receive the following services while isolating at Sid Richardson: daily health telemed appointments with Student Health, check-ins from Wellbeing staff and academic advising, daily delivery of meals and mail by Housing and Dining, and laundry service.

For students living off campus who will be coming to campus this fall: As stated above, you will receive a PCR test on arrival. This is required for all students who will be coming to campus this fall, even if you have been recently tested. We have scheduled PCR testing for off campus undergraduate students for the Thursday and Friday prior to the start of classes (August 20 and 21). If you will not be in town on either of these days, please select a date on August 24 or 25 (on Monday or Tuesday of the first week of classes).

  • We will send a follow up message the week of August 3 with the link for you to schedule your appointment. Please do not schedule an appointment via the above link in this message, that link is only for students who will live on campus.

Please note: You may not attend classes in person or be on campus for any reason until you receive a negative PCR result. If you are not tested until the first week of classes, please plan to participate in all classes in a remote format 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 wish to receive support on-campus, you may choose to come to Sid Richardson if you live with roommates. This ensures your wellbeing and the wellbeing of those you live with off-campus. It is our goal to help the entire undergraduate population stay well, and provide the support that is needed during this unprecedented time. You will be contacted by Student Health Services for a televisit and by the Wellbeing office for support. You can also contact them at 713-348-4966 for Student Health Services and 713-348-3311 for Wellbeing.

I would like to say that this is not how any of us hoped to be greeting you as you arrive to start the school year. The process I just described is new to us, and unfamiliar to you. But, please know that we are excited to welcome you to campus. I hope all of you have read and thoughtfully considered the pre-arrival health message I sent last week, and that you are preparing now to be in the best health possible when you leave for Rice, and to have a safe trip on your journey here.

Whether you are returning to start your senior year, or arriving for your first day ever as a Rice student, the time ahead requires that we engage together with more deliberate thought and planning than ever before. During my 18 years at Rice, I have been continually impressed by how much Rice students demonstrate caring behaviors toward their peers. Please embrace this caring spirit and your position in the wide and interconnected network that is the Rice community. Our students have always held a special place on our campus, and together with our faculty and staff we will have a memorable and enriching year together. I look forward to seeing you soon.

With warm regards,

Bridget Gorman, Dean of Undergraduates