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Rice University canceling in-person classes after employee tested positive for novel coronavirus

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An aerial view of Rice University in Houston. Rice University Police Department

Rice University canceled all in-person classes and undergraduate labs this week, in an attempt to avoid spread of the new coronavirus after an employee tested positive, university officials announced Sunday.

The employee was infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, while on a cruise ship that traveled the Nile River in Egypt last month.

"Out of an abundance of caution and to allow faculty and staff time to prepare for possible remote instruction this semester, in-person classroom instruction and undergrad teaching labs for the week of March 9 are canceled. During the week of March 9-13, faculty can provide material that can be completed remotely and does not require group interaction," the university said in a statement.

The statement said Rice is also preparing for the possibility of delivering "the majority of its classes remotely if that should prove necessary."

Research will continue on campus, limited to small groups, but all events, gatherings and parties of more than 100 people are prohibited through April 30.

At least 11 people in Harris and Fort Bend counties have tested positive for COVID-19 and all of those people had traveled to Egypt. That figure includes three new cases that Fort Bend officials announced Sunday.

Also on Sunday, the San Antonio Express-News reported that about 100 people from a cruise ship carrying people infected with the virus will be quarantined at Lackland Air Force Base.

Those developments came days after Austin officials canceled South by Southwest, though health officials have said there are no known instances of the virus spreading within a Texas community.

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