COVID-19 response weekly update: COVID-19 Preparations on Campus

COVID-19 response weekly update: COVID-19 Preparations on Campus

Monday, August 3, 2020

Dear colleagues,

In my July 27th update I described Rice’s COVID-19 testing strategy. Today I write to give you some information about a variety of things happening around campus as we approach the start of the fall semester.

Testing. Our first 42 undergraduates returned to campus last Monday to prepare for the fall semester. They were tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as were 63 undergrads who stayed on campus over the summer and all residential college personnel (magisters, resident associates and college coordinators). None tested positive.

We’ll continue testing this week, with a focus on faculty and graduate students involved in Research Stage 1, staff providing essential services on campus, and some additional arriving undergraduate and graduate students. Over the next several weeks, we’ll focus primarily on people who will be on campus more than 20 hours a week and have extensive contact with other employees or students; if this describes you, look for an e-mail or a request from your supervisor indicating that you have been selected for a test.

Information Technology Tools. Last week, Rice entered into a contract with Everbridge to provide contact tracing and health reporting tools. We’ve also contracted with Google for an analytical platform that will allow us not only to integrate the available data and turn it into timely, actionable information, but also to provide information for dashboards posted on our website.

Classroom Upgrades. Technology upgrades to enable dual delivery – in other words, conducting classes both on campus and remotely – are scheduled to be completed by August 14th, but several Registrar’s scheduled rooms are now ready for testing by faculty. Technology teaching assistants are available to help faculty with IT issues related to dual delivery. Please e-mail teaching@rice.edu for more information.

Library. Fondren Library is now open exclusively to Rice ID card holders, offering limited access and services Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Only the entrance on the east side – the academic quad side – will be open. Access for most patrons will be restricted to the first floor, but staff and students with offices or carrels on other floors will be allowed to visit their spaces. Face masks will be required at all times.

Library patrons can continue requesting books or other items through OneSearch and will be available after a 24-hour processing period. They can be picked up near the circulation desk and checked out at the self-service kiosks. At this time, the library will continue to support researchers only online, except for limited on-site support at the Woodson Research Center. Library hours will be expanded starting the week of August 24.

Enclosed Structures and Tents. Our facilities team is making good progress on constructing the four new enclosed structures. They will be completed by the beginning of classes. Here’s an aerial view taken last week.

Engineered Barriers. Plexiglass barriers are being installed in high contact areas where it’s difficult to maintain a six-foot physical spacing. In the photo below, you can see some of these barriers installed, together with appropriate spacing, in the visual arts print studio.

Signs. In addition to the signs placed along commonly used pathways reminding everyone on campus about the precautions we should all be taking, large signs were installed last Friday at all of the major entrances, including the one shown below at Entrance 1.

Town Hall. And finally, a reminder that President Leebron and Provost DesRoches will be hosting an on-line town hall meeting this afternoon for faculty and staff at 4 p.m.

Kevin Kirby
Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee
Vice President for Administration