Frequently Asked Questions

Can employees work remotely? Are there resources and tools for guidance?

The university is open and many Rice employees are needed physically on campus to provide services to our community. However, in situations where employees are concerned about their underlying health or meet the “high risk” and special population categories, as defined by the CDC, we encourage managers and employees to work together to identify potential telecommuting opportunities.

Factors that can determine the likelihood of working remotely may include identifying if one's job duties can be performed remotely or if an alternate schedule is feasible. Employees should work with their supervisor directly to discuss and begin this process.

All requests are subject to supervisor approval. Supervisors can consult with Human Resources in cases where they need assistance in making these decisions. Contact your HRBP or for guidance.

Working Remotely – Staying Connected and Productive

Tips for Working Remotely

From IT:

  • Setup VPN and Duo – connecting to Rice network and accessing Rice resources
  • Computer equipment requirements: Rice-owned or personal – is it ready for remote teaching?
  • Setup your Cisco VoIP phone for Single Number Reach
  • Guidelines to working remotely
  • Quick links to remote working tools – email, VPN, Zoom, Canvas, Library Journal, etc.

Zoom – Collaboration/Online Meeting Tool:

  • Setting up your account – For those that have not used Zoom before, you should have received a Zoom invitation to confirm the new account that has been provisioned for you. Please click the accept link and login to your account. If you already are a Zoom user no action is required.
  • All Rice Faculty, Staff, and Graduate Students have been granted a Professional license which provides for up to 100 attendees and a maximum of a 24 hour session duration. Undergraduate Students have been provisioned with a Zoom Basic license.
  • For meetings over 100 attendees you may request a Webinar License from the OIT Helpdesk and these will be granted by priority need.
  • Joining or Hosting a Zoom meeting session –

Cisco VoIP Phone:
Single Number Reach:

  • Single Number Reach will allow you to setup an additional phone number (such as your mobile phone) that will also ring when your office line is called.
  • Scheduling when this feature is active is optional.

Call Forwarding:

  • Forward all calls to Voicemail or another number

Remote Access to Voicemail:

You may access your office phone voicemail remotely by calling 713-348-3000 and follow prompts

Other Resources:

What if an employee is unable to work, come on campus OR work functions cannot be done remotely?
We are asking supervisors to be flexible and creative during this time as it pertains to what work can be done remotely. Examples may include a rotating schedule, job sharing arrangement, etc.

Employees can use paid time off (PTO) in these situations. IF employees do not have PTO available to use (and they have met the CDC guidelines for "at risk") they are allowed to temporarily use PTO in arrears. Please review the policy at

I have heard that we are practicing “social distancing.” What is that?

Social distancing is a term used to describe infection control actions taken by public health officials to stop or slow down the spread of a highly contagious disease. Most recently, it’s been referenced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as one of the best strategies in preventing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) The CDC defines social distancing as "remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet) from others when possible."

It is less drastic than quarantine or isolation, which are used for people who are suspected to be carrying the virus. While some people may find social distancing to be a big relief—canceling business-related travel to a conference may give someone peace of mind—others find it to be a major inconvenience. Many concerts and public gatherings have been canceled due to the recommendations about social distancing.

Clearly, social distancing may be the most effective way for people who aren’t infected with the coronavirus to avoid getting it. But it does lead to some major changes in how businesses are run, public events are held, and social interactions occur. Understanding what it means, why it’s recommended, and how to practice it can help alleviate any fears you may have.

Why is the CDC Recommending It?
The CDC believes COVID-19 spreads easily throughout communities. So they have recommended social distancing as a way to help stop the spread. The CDC believes COVID-19 spreads easily throughout communities. So they have recommended social distancing as a way to help stop the spread.

My child’s school is closed but I need to work. What services can Bright Horizons back-up care provide?

Bright Horizons Centers are still open, and you can make an appointment to take your child to one of those locations or you can have in-home care as well. More information about this service can be found here.

Register Here

Should I be concerned about interacting with people from a certain country?

Fear and anxiety about a disease or illness can lead to social stigma toward people, places or things. For example, stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease. While safety precautions must be taken during a widespread public health concern, recognize when students, employees, etc. are being treated unfairly and demonstrate our commitment to the Rice values and inclusion by taking the proper steps to intervene and report such treatment.

Helpful Resources