From the Provost - Spring Course Instruction Follow-Up

From the Provost - Spring Course Instruction Follow-Up

Dear Colleagues,

As noted in this week's COVID-19 update, Rice will generally return to in-person instruction on Jan. 24. This message contains additional information for instructors as we continue to deal with the highly contagious omicron variant. Rice’s campuswide COVID-19 policies, including the university’s current mask policy, can be found at https://coronavirus.rice.edu/policies.

Rice will continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) guidelines on isolation, meaning that students and faculty who test positive with COVID-19 are required to isolate as much as possible, including not going to class, for five days after they test positive. As a result, it is possible that a significant number of students and faculty will have to miss class at some point during the semester, and in particular, during the first week that students return to campus. Please keep in mind that at the start of next week only, some students will need accommodations because they cannot attend class until their first “on arrival” negative test result comes back (these should all be resolved by midweek).

Both faculty and students will need to be accommodating of each other as we manage this situation, and this communication provides some additional information for the required instructor accommodations. From past experience with remote instruction and asynchronous delivery of course material, we know that many instructors have concerns about the required accommodations. Thus, we have tried to build in a great deal of flexibility.

  • Instructors who must miss class are encouraged to teach remotely if they feel healthy enough to do so.
  • Instructors must make accommodations for students who are ill and cannot attend in person so that students absent from live classes because of illness are not disadvantaged. Recording and posting class lectures is one relatively easy way to do this, but is not required. Instructors may also make class notes available to students who miss because of illness and/or provide individual meetings (remote or in person once isolation has ended) or some additional form of accommodation. We know that some faculty have had various issues with recording classes. To address some of these concerns:
    - All but seven registrar-scheduled classrooms have been outfitted with technology to aid in recording. If you are unsure whether your classroom has been outfitted, please contact teaching@rice.edu or visit https://kb.rice.edu/113036. If your classroom has not been properly outfitted and you would like a new classroom assignment, please contact the Registrar’s Office (registrar@rice.edu) to explore options for a new room assignment.
    - Tech TAs are available to assist with recording or other technology in the classroom. If you need assistance, contact teaching@rice.edu.
    - Recordings (or notes or other material) are only required for students who miss due to illness, though other students might also benefit from this and you may wish to make such materials generally available. Students are expected to contact their instructors as soon as they know they will miss class due to illness and to do so in as timely a manner as possible, preferably the day before class, although it is to be understood that circumstances may only allow same-day notification.
    - Instructors who are concerned that recordings will encourage students not to attend class may wish to specifically include a class participation component to their grading guidelines. Any changes to grading guidelines should be noted in an updated syllabus and shared with the class.

Thank you to all members of the Rice community for your work in adapting to the changing demands created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Your dedication and effort are key to Rice fulfilling its mission of unsurpassed education and research. Best wishes for a rewarding semester.

Regards,

Reginald DesRoches, Howard Hughes Provost

Bridget Gorman, Dean of Undergraduates

Christopher Johns-Krull, Speaker of the Faculty Senate

Caroline Levander, Vice President of Global and Digital Strategy

Seiichi Matsuda, Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies