November 13, 2020
Dear Rice Community,
As we look toward Thanksgiving and the end of the semester, we hope that each of you is able to relax and enjoy time with family despite the challenges presented by COVID-19.
We are writing today to ask that all members of our community be even more vigilant than usual as you prepare to travel or attend holiday gatherings, and to continue the careful practices that have kept the Rice community comparatively safe and healthy this semester. Recall that the last day of instruction is Friday, Nov. 20. We shortened the semester to reduce back-and-forth travel around the Thanksgiving holiday among our students, faculty and staff. We all need to be extra cautious and thoughtful as we plan our holidays. Reducing risk for yourself reduces risk for others, and one way to do that is to limit travel and the size of gathering this holiday season as much as possible.
One important factor to recognize is that your actions today may impact your ability to travel for Thanksgiving or other purposes over winter recess. We are now less than two weeks away from the Thanksgiving break. If you go into quarantine from this point forward, you will be in quarantine for the Thanksgiving holiday. Make a safety plan now so you can stay healthy and travel healthy, prioritize following that plan in the time ahead, and always keep in mind that any exposure that you risk now could cause harm to those you might encounter at Thanksgiving.
Important precautions to take include strict mask-wearing, physical distancing, and limiting close exposure to others. This semester we have repeatedly seen quarantine cases resulting from eating meals in restaurants and contact with others in study groups. Do your best to make choices that limit your risk so you will be healthy when you travel. The Centers for Disease Control has recommendations for safe holiday gatherings and travel. We urge you to read these guidelines and then diligently adhere to them to protect yourself and your family. Please be sure to not let down your guard for a last gathering before you say goodbye to friends and colleagues. If you’re going home, doing so could endanger friends and family.
If you plan to travel, schedule a PCR test now for a few days prior to your departure. Please plan ahead and schedule early for your testing appointment -- if you wait too long, you may be unable to schedule a test at Rice. The COVID-19 test scheduling process can be accessed at https://coronavirus.rice.edu/testing-resources. If you intend to travel by airplane, you should check your airline’s requirements. Note and plan accordingly for any testing results that you may need to provide in order to board a plane or to present once you reach your destination.
Persons who are in isolation or quarantine should not travel on public transportation. If travel in these circumstances is absolutely necessary, it should occur in a private vehicle, keeping in mind that persons who are ill with COVID-19 should not be driving.
If you get together with others over Thanksgiving and the holidays, please keep in mind that the reason our community has fared better than some others is that we have established a culture of mutual accountability. Wherever we are going, we all must set a good example and promote the practices that have made us safer.
As we approach the end of the semester, we hope that everyone has a happy and safe winter holiday. We look forward to seeing you on campus or engaging with you remotely in the spring.
Reginald DesRoches, Provost
Bridget Gorman, Dean of Undergraduates
Seiichi Matsuda, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
Kevin Kirby, Vice President for Administration