New Families Orientation FAQ

Updated: June 30th, 2021

See below for FAQs from our parents and families related to incoming Rice students. Please note this page is subject to be updated. For official Campus Policies related to COVID-19, please visit here: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/policies

Your student will receive direct email notification for any major updates from the university, including the Dean of Undergraduates. To stay up-to-date on all COVID-19 and return to campus communications, please visit here: https://coronavirus.rice.edu/alerts


What is New Families Orientation?
The New Families Orientation (NFO) program is designed for parents whose students are about to begin their first (freshman or transfer) year at Rice University. The program will acquaint parents with various aspects of the university’s academic, residential, and student life. Emphasis will be on the transitions and adjustments new college students and their parents typically experience. Parents will have an opportunity to hear from members of our faculty, administrative staff, student body, and current Rice parents. It is intended that, as a result of participating in the program, parents will have an enriched sense of sharing in their student’s college life.

NFO consists of 3 major components this year:
1. A newsletter series distributed beginning mid-July until the start of fall semester.

2. An official Rice Welcome from President Leebron and Dean Gorman, delivered in person on Sunday afternoon on August 16th, 2021.

3. Information Sessions from key offices on campus, which will be presented in person during New Families Orientation.


Is New Families Orientation virtual this year?
While NFO 2020 was presented virtually, NFO 2021 will be presented in an in person format. Introductions to campus resources and departments will still take place on a rolling basis beginning mid-July until the start of fall semester. In August, key offices have been selected to provide information to our parents and family members. All of this information will be delivered via email directly to parents and families, as well as published on the NFO website on an ongoing basis. Offices and departments are available to answer your important questions and assist you throughout the summer months and during the academic term.

I have questions and I'm not sure where to go for the answer. Who should I contact?
A good first place to start is by reading about our Campus Resources and directing your question to the relevant office. If you have specific questions following a newsletter, contact information should be provided in each series. You can reach out to respective offices by email or phone and our committed faculty and staff are happy to help you. It is an excellent practice to start to have your students lead the communication chain between your family and the university. This helps students with help-seeking and navigational skills that are essential to their college-going years. As families and loved ones, Rice is committed to helping you feel confident and knowledgeable in your student’s transition. We do encourage students to be included on emails, phone calls, and any correspondence.

I am not receiving emails from New Families Orientation (NFO). What do I do?
To be added to our mailing list, please email success@rice.edu and we will reply to confirm. From then forward, you should receive all newsletters directly to your inbox until the start of fall semester. All newsletters can be viewed here. This page is frequently updated as each newsletter is scheduled to be delivered. You can revisit these newsletters throughout the academic year as well.

My student plans to live on campus for the fall. Can families help new students move in?
Yes, familiy members will be able to assist with move-in on Sunday, August 15th, 2021. While new students can have family members or friends with them to help unload their car, they can also enter the residential college building. In order to make Move-In as safe as possible for all new students and their families, the accompanying family members must not be immunocompromised, not exhibiting any COVID related symptoms, and follow our current COVID Campus Policies found here. Before moving items into their residential college, students must first report to a designated location on campus for COVID-19 testing (details to be provided closer to move in).

When students arrive at their college, they can unload their belongings from the car and proceed with move in. There will be carts available for moving items up to your room, and for new students who arrive for Orientation Week, O-Week Advisors will be there to assist with moving in student belongings.

Will I need to wear a mask during move-in?
New students and their families will be expected to follow campus wide guidelines regarding facial coverings. More specifics regarding move-in protocol requirements will be communicated by the residential colleges shortly

  • Indoors: Individuals who are fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination, are exempted from the indoor face mask requirement.
    • People who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask when indoors, with exceptions granted when actively eating or drinking, or when students are inside their own rooms within a residential college, or when faculty/staff/students are alone inside a private office.
  • Outdoors: There is no requirement for wearing a face mask on campus when outside.


What are the rules around facial coverings, physical distancing, maximum attendance at gatherings, and maximum occupancy of spaces on campus as determined by physical distancing?
Rules around facial coverings, physical distancing, and maximum attendance at gatherings have been shared via messages sent by Dr. Kevin Kirby, Vice President for Administration, each of which can be found at this website.

There may a limited number of pandemic-related restrictions imposed on a case-by-case basis in which the characteristics of the space are not conducive to the activity or a higher density and they will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by Rice Crisis Management. Maximum occupancy of various spaces on campus will be clearly indicated for users of the space (for example, with posted signs).

I have questions regarding COVID-19 testing and the fall semester. What information should I know?
Please read official correspondence from Dean Gorman and Kevin Kirby, VP for Administration, regarding COVID-19 policies and updates can be found here.

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