HOUSTON – Rice University is expanding its physical spaces on campus amid coronavirus health standards.
Kevin Kirby, the Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee, recently announced the university purchased four temporary structures and five open-sided tents for instruction, academic lectures, meetings and study space.
“Reducing population density will require us to use spaces in non-traditional ways and increase the number of large venues on campus,” Kirby said in the statement.
The four temporary structures, which are 50 by 90 feet, can hold up to 50 students and an instructor. They will be located on the open field next to Hanszen College and across the street from Herring Hall. These structures, which were designed to withstand hurricane-force winds, will be lighted, cooled, heated, and ventilated, with audiovisual capabilities.
According to the university, these structures will be available for use by the start of classes, which is scheduled to start on August 24.
The university also purchased five open-sided tents, which are 40 by 60 feet, that will be placed adjacent to academic buildings. However, how these structures will be used and scheduled will be determined in the coming weeks.
In order to make the best use of all outdoor spaces, the university is asking students, who have portable chairs to bring them when they return to campus. The university will also purchase a number of lightweight and portable camping-style chairs for student use.
Rice University also plans to reduce population density at the research labs and office building for the fall semester.
“The first phase of the reopening of research is underway and we will probably institute some adjustments for the next phase in July,” Kirby said. “The population density in office buildings will be reduced through a variety of work policies and practices that are now being developed by our Human Resources Office in conjunction with supervisors. These alternatives include working from home, alternative work schedules and part-time arrangements.”
In addition, the Dean of Undergraduates and her staff are currently evaluating how population density will be addressed within the residential colleges, including procedures for dining and Orientation Week activities. Details on this will be communicated to new and returning students in early July.