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Classes delayed by two days, all online for two weeks

breaking-news

By Savannah Kuchar and Talha Arif     8/19/21 11:31am

Classes will begin two days later than planned on August 25, and instruction will be all online for at least the first two weeks of the semester, according to an email from Provost Reginald DesRoches. This change follows a recent rise in COVID-19 cases on campus, as well as across the Houston area as the delta variant becomes more predominant, according to DesRoches.

The level of breakthrough cases on campus is much higher than anticipated, according to an announcement from Dean Bridget Gorman to the Rice community. In the email, Gorman also encouraged upperclassmen to delay their move-in. Students who live in the greater Houston area should wait to return to campus until the weekend of September 4. 

Until September 3, indoor dining in group settings and consumption of alcohol are not permitted, according to Gorman.



“In total, these measures are designed to provide us time as a community to gather more information from our surveillance testing program ... and make adjustments as needed,” Gorman wrote.

The situation and these policies will be reevaluated on September 3, at the end of this two-week period, DesRoches wrote. He said the administration still intends for instruction to be fully in-person this fall.

“We need time to test and assess the prevalence of COVID-19 in the Rice community and its related health outcomes, and to implement any appropriate risk mitigation actions, keeping in mind the effectiveness of vaccination in preventing serious illness,” DesRoches wrote.

All undergraduate students currently on campus must complete a COVID-19 test by tomorrow, and returning students also must complete an arrival test, according to Gorman.

In his email, DesRoches said the administration urges Rice community members to get vaccinated.

“Vaccination remains the single most effective method to protect yourself, your family and everyone on campus,” DesRoches wrote.

Gorman said she remains optimistic that these changes reflect relatively short-term, rather than permanent, alterations to this semester’s campus life.

“If we can all embrace these safety protocols, our ability to provide a healthy campus environment will improve and the time frame for these extra protections to be in place will be more limited,” Gorman wrote.

[8/19/2020 12:32 p.m.] The story was updated with information provided by Dean Bridget Gorman’s announcement to the Rice community. This story will be updated as we get more information.



More from The Rice Thresher

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Rice adjusts to record-high COVID cases as students begin return

More than 326 Rice community members tested positive for COVID-19 from Jan. 3 to Jan. 10 as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the country. Through the entirety of the 2020-2021 academic year, Rice reported 367 cases. In response to the rise in cases, President David Leebron and Provost Reginald DesRoches announced over email that the first two weeks of most classes will be online. They also asked students to delay their return to campus, prohibited indoor dining, required vaccine boosters and reimplemented a full indoor mask mandate.


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