new rules

Rice University declares start of spring semester online and vaccine requirements

Rice will start its spring semester online on January 10, 2022. Photo courtesy of Rice University

With COVID-19 cases continuing to surge with the omicron variant and classes preparing to return from winter break, Rice University is sharing its plans for the spring semester, and that includes vaccine requirements.

Classes are still scheduled to start on January 10, 2022, however instruction will be online for the first two weeks, according to a message to the Rice community on December 28 from president David Leebron and provost Reggie DesRoches.

Anyone who can remain remote during that time is encouraged to do so.

The university says it plans to shift to a more endemic approach, meaning understanding that COVID will likely remain, so they'll be enforcing generally fewer restrictions and reducing certain public health measures like isolation and quarantine, provided people are fully vaccinated.

The online start will also allow time for everyone to receive booster shots, which is part of the university's new policy.

Here's what to know ahead of the start of the spring semester.

  • Effective Jan. 10, vaccine boosters will be required for all employees and students if it has been at least six months since your two-shot Pfizer or Moderna regime. If you took the 1-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine, you don't have to wait six months and should get a booster as soon as possible. The requirement applies to all employees and students who come to campus unless they are granted a medical or religious exemption. You'll be required to update your vaccination status with your booster information. A booster takes two weeks to be fully effective.
  • Classes with over 50 students must be held online.
  • Faculty teaching classes with 50 or fewer students have the option to hold their classes in person, but must make accommodations for students who do not attend in person, such as by recording classes.
  • Indoor gatherings, including classes, are limited to 50 people through Jan. 24.
  • Masks must be worn indoors at all times.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to delay returning to campus, including to undergraduate housing, until the weekend of Jan. 22-23.
  • Research activities can continue, and research facilities and services will remain open.
  • Staff should work remotely if they can until Jan. 24.

Rice says that it still plans to return to in-person on Jan. 24. The university plans to release more information later this week.

Other local colleges and universities have not yet announced protocol changes in response to rising COVID19 numbers, but officials stress, they are constantly reevaluating policies.---

This article was originally run by our news partner ABC13.

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Building Houston

 
 

Electric vans will now be delivering to Houston. Photo courtesy of Amazon

Amazon CEO/occasional space traveler Jeff Bezos is doing his best to supplant a certain jolly fellow from the North Pole as tops for holiday gift delivery.

His latest move: Amazon is rolling out more than 1,000 electric delivery vehicles, designed by electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian, ready to make deliveries in more than 100 cities across the U.S. On the Texas good list: Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Bezos' juggernaut began deliveries in Dallas in July, along with Baltimore, Chicago, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, and St. Louis.

These zero-emissions vans have delivered more than 5 million packages to customers in the U.S., according to Amazon. The latest boost in vehicles now includes Houston and Austin; Boston; Denver; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Madison, Wisconsin; Newark, New Jersey; New York, Oakland, California; Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon; Provo, Utah; and Salt Lake City.

Plans for the Amazon and Rivian partnership call for thousands of vehicles on the road by the end of the year and 100,000 vehicles by 2030.

“We’re always excited for the holiday season, but making deliveries to customers across the country with our new zero-emission vehicles for the first time makes this year unique,” said Udit Madan, vice president of Amazon Transportation, in a statement. “We’ve already delivered over 5 million packages with our vehicles produced by Rivian, and this is still just the beginning—that figure will grow exponentially as we continue to make progress toward our 100,000-vehicle goal.”

This all comes as part of Amazon's commitment to reaching net-zero carbon by 2040, as a part of its The Climate Pledge; Amazon promises to eliminate millions of metric tons of carbon per year with it s commitment to 100,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2030, press materials note.

Additionally, Amazon announced plans to invest more than $1 billion over the next five years to further electrify and decarbonize its transportation network across Europe. This investment is meant to spark innovation and encourage more public charging infrastructure across the continent.

“Fleet electrification is essential to reaching the world’s zero-emissions goal,” said Jiten Behl, chief growth officer at Rivian, in a statement. “So, to see our ramp up in production supporting Amazon’s rollout in cities across the country is amazing. Not just for the environment, but also for our teams working hard to get tens of thousands of electric delivery vehicles on the road. They continue to be motivated by our combined mission and the great feedback about the vehicle’s performance and quality.”

A little about the vans: Drivers’ favorite features include a spacious cabin and cargo area, superior visibility with a large windshield and 360-degree cameras, and ventilated seats for fast heating and cooling — a must for Bayou City summers ... or winters, for that matter.

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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