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University of Houston plans 'soft opening' for spring semester in response to COVID surge

Texas Southern and Rice Universities are also beginning their semesters mostly remotely for the first two weeks, while Texas A&M plans to start in-person.

HOUSTON, Texas — Not many cougars are roaming the University of Houston campus a week before Spring semester officially begins as COVID continues to interrupt college life.

UH President Renu Khator announced a decision to implement a “soft opening” during the first two weeks of the Spring semester similar to what happened in the fall.

Professors may change the format of classes from in-person to online or a hybrid.

"The real goal here is to decrease the density of students in the classroom at any given time,” said UH VP of Medical Affairs Dr. Stephen Spann.

"It’s definitely been hard for everybody," said biology major Selome Ghebremedhin.

She just graduated after spending much of the last two years learning online.

"And trying to come back on campus this semester was also kind of rough because it was, like, people are still having it,” said Ghebremedhin.

“Sadly, yes," said student Milos Djeric.  "But I’ve got to say UH really takes good care of us.”

"Better to be safe than get sick," said another student.

Spann said COVID testing will continue to be a priority as well.

In fact, he told us more than 2000 tests were administered just last week at kiosks around campus.

And accommodations are being made for certain students who test positive.

"For our residential students who live on campus, we do have dorm rooms set aside that we can place them in in isolation,” said Dr. Spann.

COVID cleaning protocols on campus will continue as well and face coverings are highly recommended, as are vaccinations.

However neither is mandatory at UH.

"It is what it is," said Ghebremedhin. "I don’t know how else to go about it.”

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