In-person classes to resume Jan. 24 as dining and alcohol restrictions continue
Most courses will shift to in-person instruction on Jan. 24, according to an announcement from Provost Reginald DesRoches and Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee Kevin Kirby. Restrictions on indoor dining and drinking may continue for two more weeks, Kirby and Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman said.
Instructors can petition for their class to remain virtual if they or someone they live with is at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or cannot be vaccinated, according to the announcement.
The prohibition on indoor dining, which Gorman originally set through Jan. 23, may continue for an additional week, according to Kirby and DesRoches. Gorman said that restrictions on indoor drinking will correspond with indoor dining.
“We are extending the prohibition against indoor drinking in tandem with the extension for indoor dining, including keeping Willy’s pub closed,” Gorman wrote in an email to the Thresher. “We will provide updates on these as we evaluate the evolving COVID situation and make decisions about indoor eating and drinking over the next few weeks.”
Christopher Johns-Krull, speaker of the Faculty Senate, said managing the concerns of at-risk faculty is important when making decisions about returning to in-person instruction.
“We need to think very carefully, because some of my faculty colleagues have various underlying conditions that generally students don’t have, just because we’re an older population,” Johns-Krull, a professor of physics and astronomy, said.
Masks will continue to be required in all indoor settings, Kirby and DesRoches wrote. According to the announcement, more KN95 masks — which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said provide more protection to the user than cloth or surgical masks — will arrive at Rice later this week.
Johns-Krull said he wants students and faculty to continue masking in the classroom.
“I know many of our faculty feel quite comfortable being in the classroom, particularly with everybody masked,” Johns-Krull said. “I don’t expect any change in the masking policy in the classroom.”
The deadline to add classes has been extended one week to Jan. 28, according to DesRoches and Kirby. In an email to the Thresher, Johns-Krull, the chair of the Academic Restart Committee, said Rice does not plan to extend the drop deadline, currently Feb. 25.
A previous cap on indoor gatherings to 50 people has also been lifted, according to DesRoches and Kirby’s announcement.
More from The Rice Thresher
Muslim students and H&D prepare for Ramadan
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins this week, falling between March 22 to April 20 this year, overlapping with events such as Beer Bike and the end of the semester. Observers fast from dawn until dusk, which is approximately 13 hours in Houston, to practice spiritual devotedness.
Beer Bike to divide races amid safety concerns
Beer Bike races will be held in two heats this year, instead of the traditional singular race, according to Anne Wang, a campus-wide Beer Bike coordinator. The change is in light of last year’s crash during the women’s race, which injured three bikers and sent one to the hospital.
Administration affirms commitment to diversity
President Reginald DesRoches announced Rice’s commitment to diversity ahead of anticipated Supreme Court rulings on affirmative action cases in a campus-wide email sent on March 3, cosigned by Provost Amy Dittmar and Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Alexander Byrd.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.