From the Provost and ARC Chair - Spring Semester and Online Instruction

From the Provost and ARC Chair - Spring Semester and Online Instruction

Dear Colleagues,

We write today to follow up on some issues related to the decision to begin the spring semester with almost all course instruction online.

To facilitate online instruction, faculty may come to campus to use their offices, their scheduled classroom, or the studios developed by the Office of Information Technology to teach their online classes if they wish. If you are interested in using a studio and have not already done so, please email

Once students are allowed to return to campus, many will likely need to travel to Houston on a weekday. This travel will be regarded as an excused absence and the student must be given the chance to make up any missed work. In addition, accommodations should be made the day students are moving into their on- or off-campus home, and during the initial 24-hour period that undergraduates will be receiving their “on arrival” COVID-19 test and awaiting results at their home or in their room on campus.

A small number of classes have already been or were in the process of being exempt from dual delivery and were planned to be taught in person only. It is strongly encouraged that instructors of these courses plan an online-only component for the first few weeks of the course if at all possible.

However, an online-only component might not be possible for all in-person courses due to the nature of the class. Therefore, some courses might be approved to begin in person at the start of instruction on Jan. 25 or at a later date, but before the general return to campus. Students enrolled in these approved courses will be allowed to return to campus early by petitioning the Dean of Undergraduates.

We also must ensure that international students can engage in face-to-face instruction to the extent that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Department of Homeland Security will require, and that international students can trust Rice will have appropriate possibilities in place. We will follow up with undergraduate academic advising and with directors of graduate study.

Instructors of all courses planned to be taught in person only should submit a written plan to their department chair describing how they will start the semester, noting by what date students will need to return to the classroom for the course to fulfill its intended pedagogical goals. Chairs should forward these plans to their dean, who will collect and forward them to the provost for approval. For courses where there is not a relevant department chair, instructors should submit their plans directly to their dean or to the vice provost of academic affairs. These plans should be submitted as soon as possible, and no later than noon Monday, Jan. 18.

Please be aware that due to the surge in COVID-19 cases and the change in the posture of the university, some students registered for in-person courses may not feel comfortable returning to campus before all students are invited back. Instructors must accommodate these students. Such accommodations could include assigning remote work for these students during the first few weeks of the semester or requiring additional individual meetings with the students once everyone returns to campus to make up the missed work. However, scheduling such additional meetings should be reasonable and take into consideration that these students will generally be taking a full load of other classes. Instructors of courses that were planned to be in person are encouraged to communicate as soon as possible with their students to inform them how the semester will begin. Instructors of courses that will be taught in person before the general return to campus should do the same as well as address how students who need to stay away from campus will be handled.

If you are teaching an online or dual-delivery class for the first time, please complete the mandatory training modules found here.

We know these changes add stress and work to an already stressful environment. We acknowledge this and deeply appreciate your efforts to adapt your courses to fulfill our educational mission. Again, we hope the current surge in COVID-19 cases will begin to subside soon and that we will be able to return to the originally anticipated mode of course delivery by mid-February.


Reginald DesRoches, Provost

Christopher Johns-Krull, ARC Chair