RICE ALERT - Coronavirus update March 6

RICE ALERT - Coronavirus update March 6

To the Rice community:

The Rice Crisis Management Team is following up on previous communications to answer some questions about the location of the confirmed case and to provide an update on travel.

The campus remains open and is operating normally but with some added precautions, which are described below.

Location of confirmed case

The employee who has tested positive for coronavirus was on campus Feb. 24-25 and was in a secured suite on the first floor of Keck Hall. As previously reported, that space and the building have been thoroughly sanitized multiple times, and our custodians are providing additional cleaning throughout the campus.

Based on our investigation, the affected employee's contact with the Rice campus was limited to Keck Hall, and the individual wore a face mask during the time spent on campus. The employee was not in any classrooms in Keck Hall or any other buildings on campus including student housing. The employee did not ride university shuttles.

We believe there is low risk for anybody working or studying in Keck Hall based on the substantial cleanings of Keck that have been undertaken, the limited lifespan of the virus and the ongoing self-quarantine of the employees and students who came in contact with the affected employee. However, in response to concerns expressed by some, all classes in Keck will be moved to other buildings at least through March 11, when the self-quarantine period ends. If the self-quarantined remain asymptomatic, which as of today they are, classes will resume in Keck Hall after spring break. Employees stationed at Keck can continue to work in the building, but if they seek any alternative work arrangements, they should discuss this with their supervisor, human resources or the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies.

These measures are taken out of an abundance of caution. It is important to remember that the virus spreads mainly between people in close contact with one another through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Rice recommends that individuals practice proper handwashing as suggested by the World Health Organization (using soap and water for at least 20 seconds) and general hygiene, cover coughs and stay home if sick. 

Travel

International travel: As of today, Rice is banning all university-sponsored international travel for faculty, staff, postdocs and students through April 30. We recognize that in a limited number of cases, the impact of this temporary decision could have significant professional consequences. If that is the case, an appeal may be made to the provost's office at provost@rice.edu.

Anyone arriving from countries on the CDC's level 2 and 3 warning lists must self-isolate and stay away from campus and student housing and have no physical contact with the Rice community for two weeks after returning to the U.S. This includes any students, faculty or staff traveling for personal reasons; all visitors; arriving new students; and arriving new employees.

Domestic travel: Employees should limit domestic university-sponsored travel to only essential business purposes, and they should discuss such travel with their supervisors.

Travel registration: We are requiring everyone in the Rice community who travels internationally for any reason to register their travel at this website: https://travelregistry.rice.edu. You will need to log in with your NetID. If you have questions, please contact the help desk at 713-348-HELP (4357) or email helpdesk@rice.edu.

Events

If you are planning an event on campus with a significant number of people, please see the CDC's guidelines for community gatherings: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html

We appreciate your understanding and cooperation during this evolving situation. We are a strong community that is driven by our support and care for each other, and now is a time when we need to continue to demonstrate that care for one another.

See emergency.rice.edu for all updates and related information. The Rice Community Information Center will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone number is 713-348-4224.

In the meantime, you can find information about the coronavirus at these websites:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov

https://dshs.texas.gov/coronavirus