COVID-19 protocols and updates for Houston area colleges and universities
TSU student with mask. (Photo from Pinterest)

Students are gearing up for their return to on-campus learning. Several colleges and universities continue to update their safety guidelines ahead of the fall school semester.

Here is a list of local colleges and universities with different COVID-19-protocols and updates that students should keep in mind before coming back to school.

University of Houston, Central Campus 

The University of Houston will continue to encourage the wearing of face coverings, especially for individuals who are not fully vaccinated, but consistent with Governor Abbott’s May 18, 2021 and July 29, 2021 Executive Orders, face coverings are no longer required on campus.

University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)

  • UHD is offering COVID-19 testing on campus through a kiosk located outside the Student Life Center.
  • UHD’s testing will be free of charge and available to the university community and the public from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Presentation of a photo identification and insurance card is suggested when arriving for testing, but not required.
  • Face coverings and/or masks are no longer required at UHD per Governor Abbott’s Executive Order #36​.  
  • For those who prefer to wear face coverings and/or masks, they may certainly continue to do so. UHD encourages unvaccinated people to wear face coverings.

University of Houston Clearlake

  • COVID testing is being offered at no cost on the UHCL campus and is open to the public.
  • An appointment is recommended but not required.
  • COVID-19 PCR testing is available.
  • Self-collected swab test with 1-2 days turnaround. No cost to individuals (will bill to insurance if one provided). No insurance required.

Houston Community College 

  • All in-person academic courses will be conducted remotely as “Online on a Schedule” until September 20, before transitioning back to in-person learning. Workforce, Health Sciences, and ESL courses will continue with in-person instruction starting August 23.
  • Everyone is asked to take the HCC Soar Safe Pledge, or five actions to protect students staff and the community.  Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Watch your distance Stay home if you are sick. Get vaccinated.
  • All students, employees and visitors will be required to complete HCC’s screening process before accessing HCC’s buildings.

Texas Southern University (TSU)

  • Per Texas guidelines, masks will not be required on campus or in campus buildings, but they are recommended.
  • Unvaccinated students are allowed on campus but masks are recommended.
  • TSU has established the TSU COVID-19 Hotline to gather information that will be used to keep the TSU community healthy. Faculty, staff and students should report lab-confirmed positive COVID-19 cases, physician-diagnosed positive COVID-19 cases and exposures to the self-reporting COVID-19.

Rice University 

Indoors: Masks are required indoors at all times for faculty, staff, students and visitors, with the following exceptions:

  • When actively eating or drinking.
  • When students are inside their own rooms in a residential college.
  • When faculty, staff and students are alone inside a private office.
  • Faculty lecturing in a classroom are advised, but not required, to wear a mask. If they’re not masked, instructors must maintain a distance of at least 10 feet between themselves and their students. Unvaccinated instructors must wear a mask at all times.

Outdoors: Masks are not required outdoors.

  • Fully vaccinated people coming to campus coming into routine contact with others must schedule a test at least once every two weeks.
  • Unvaccinated people coming to campus must test twice per week, regardless of whether they come into contact with other people.

Prairie View A&M University

If an individual test positive for COVID-19 or comes in contact with a person who has tested positive, the individual should self-report and call the school’s COVID-19 hotline.

  • The individual must not attend class, work or attend university-sponsored activities if the person is sick.
  • Complete a Self-Reporting Form.
  • Individuals should notify professors and/or supervisors of absences.
  • Continue isolation/quarantine until Health Services clears you to return to campus.

University of St. Thomas

• Individuals should continue to perform a self-evaluation before visiting campus.

• Temperature checks and wristbands are no longer required when arriving on campus.

• The wearing of masks is no longer required for people who are fully vaccinated.

• Classes should continue to follow distancing guidelines, maintaining six feet of space.

Lone Star College 

  • Masks are no longer required on LSC facilities or grounds.
  • All entrances will be open and there is no requirement for temperature checks.
  • You no longer need to report exposure unless you have tested positive.

Laura Onyeneho covers the city’s education system as it relates to Black children for the Defender Network as a Report For America Corps member. Email her at 

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Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...