New Families Orientation FAQ

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 Undergraduate FAQs related to COVID-19, please visit here:

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:

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 virtual components this year:
1. A newsletter series distributed beginning mid-July until the start of fall semester.
2. Information Sessions from key offices on campus, which will be presented in a virtual format in August.
3. An official Rice Welcome from President Leebron and Dean Gorman, delivered via email and published on our website.

Is New Families Orientation virtual this year?
NFO 2020 will be presented in a fully virtual format. Introductions to campus resources and departments will take place on a rolling basis beginning mid-July until the start of fall semester. In August, key offices have been selected to provide virtual pre-recorded webinars. 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 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?
Unfortunately, they cannot help with move in. While new students can have family members or friends with them to help unload their car, they cannot enter the residential college building. No more than two family members may accompany their new student during Move-In. In order to make Move-In as safe as possible for all new students and their families, the accompanying family members must be 18 years of age or older, not immunocompromised, and not exhibiting any COVID related symptoms. 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, OWeek Advisors will be there to assist with moving in student belongings. As was detailed in the Culture of Care Agreement that Dean Gorman sent, 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.

Will I need to wear a mask during move-in?
Yes, new students and their families will be expected to follow campus wide guidelines regarding facial coverings, and all community members must wear facial coverings when on campus whether indoors or outdoors. While indoors, the only exceptions are when a student is in their individual room or residential suite. While outdoors, all community members should wear a facial covering, or have one readily available to put on if they come within six feet of another individual. More specifics regarding move-in protocol requirements will be communicated by the residential colleges shortly.

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. 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 regarding fall move-in and COVID-19 testing for students here.

Please read official correspondence from Kevin Kirby, VP for Administration, regarding COVID-19 testing for faculty and staff here.


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