As the fall scholastic year approaches, educational institutions are scrambling to accommodate students in-person during the pandemic. Rice University is adjusting to the new normal with a way for students to social distance.
Some classes in the fall at Rice will be held in tents, according to a message sent out by the school. The school has procured four temporary structures (50 by 90 feet) that can hold 50 students and an instructor, according to the statement. The structures will be located on the open field next to Hanszen College and across the street from Herring Hall.
Fortunately for students and staff, the structures will be lighted, cooled, heated, ventilated, will offer audiovisual capabilities, and can withstand hurricane force winds.
Rice has also purchased nine open-sided tents (40 by 60 feet) and placed them adjacent to academic buildings. Students who have portable chairs are to bring them; the school will also purchase a number of lightweight, portable camping-style chairs for student use, per the statement. The tents will have air conditioning, heat, and floors.
University president, David Leebron, says the moves are to limit the spread of COVID-19. “Outdoors is really significantly less of a possibility of transmission than indoors,” KHOU reports. “And so we want our students and others to feel as comfortable as possible.”
Leebron adds that the tents could be a long-term addition to the school’s facilities. “We would probably leave them up for a period of years, hopefully not because of the pandemic, but to serve other needs,” Leebron says.