Rice University will only be offering its classes virtually when its spring semester begins Jan. 25, the university’s president, David Leebron, wrote in an email to the university community.
"Our top priority has always been to keep our community safe,” Leebron wrote in his Jan. 8 email. “We have consistently emphasized that we will adapt as circumstances change.”
With the announcement, Rice University will continue with an online-only format through mid-February with very few limited exceptions granted by the provost for special circumstances, according to the announcement.
The same goes for the return date for undergraduates, who now will not be returning to campus until Feb. 15, unless already on campus or given an exception from the dean of undergraduates.
Through mid-February, the university will also no longer allow group activities indoors involving more than five people at Rice University campuses, with outdoor gatherings up to 10 people permitted only if all are wearing masks and physically distanced at least 6 feet apart.
The new plan comes as Rice University reports that approximately 25% of all of its positive cases since it started testing on campus five months ago have occurred in the last two weeks alone.
“This increase was while there was almost no activity on campus,” Leebron wrote. “All of the infections were traced to off-campus activities over the winter recess.”
Meanwhile, the university has applied to the state of Texas for enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate every student, faculty and staff member of its community, with no word yet on when it will receive the vaccine, though it does hope to have it sometime in February. According to Rice’s Office of Institutional Research, that would be enough doses for at least 7,536 students who were enrolled during the fall 2020 semester.