Rice University to add 'outdoor learning' to its social distancing plans

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Rice University is adding outdoor learning to its social distancing plans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic beginning this fall.

In a letter to university staff, Kevin Kirby, Chair of the Crisis Management Advisory Committee and Vice President for Administration, said this will include nine temporary outdoor spaces, four 50 by 90 foot temporary structures and five 40 by 60 foot open-sided tents.

"Reducing population density will require us to use spaces in non-traditional ways and increase the number of large venues on campus," Kirby said.

The four temporary structures will be located on a field adjacent to Hanszen College and across the street from Herring Hall.

They will also be lighted, cooled, heated, and will be able to withstand hurricane force winds, according the Kirby.

The five tents will also be placed next to academic buildings. The university is purchasing "lightweight, portable camping-style chairs" for student use and also asking students who have their own chairs to bring them when they return to campus.

"The intent guiding all of this is to prioritize our community's health and safety while we provide the best possible intellectual and social environment in delivering our mission," Kirby wrote.

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