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In-person classes to resume Jan. 24 as dining and alcohol restrictions continue

Channing Wang / Thresher

By Prayag Gordy     1/18/22 11:01pm

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.

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