Archive for June 2020

Staff Vacation Carryover

As per the College’s vacation policy, all accrued carryover vacation hours, from fiscal year 2020 were set to expire Sept. 1, 2020. 

Due to the pandemic and disruption in previously scheduled vacation, the College will permit employees to carry over up to 10 vacation days through Dec. 31, 2020. Please note that this special carryover vacation (up to 10 days) will not be paid out if an employee should leave their position prior Dec. 31, 2020.

Important Update—Fall 2020 Return to Campus

Dear Campus Community,

I hope this update finds you and your family safe and well. I write to share some key updates on Lebanon Valley College’s planning for an in-person, on-time start to the Fall 2020 semester. I am closely coordinating with President-elect James MacLaren, the president’s staff, the Critical Incident and Emergency Management Team, and several Provost-led faculty task forces to develop a playbook to guide our efforts.

I’ve noted in the past that the successful and rapid pivot this spring demonstrated LVC at its best. The same is true of the planning underway. Administrators and faculty are working very hard researching, developing, and crystalizing complex plans that have many intertwined consequences that must be thought through.

We are basing our plans on a defined set of guiding principles and gating conditions placing the well-being of our campus community as the highest priority and emphasizing academic quality, equity, financial sustainability, and compliance with federal and state guidelines. We are closely following guidance from the PA Department of Education to build the playbook.

Fall Calendar and Academic Experience
The academic calendar will be adjusted to limit the number of times large numbers of students travel to and from campus. The semester will start one week early, with undergraduate and graduate classes beginning Monday, Aug. 24. There will be no Fall Break. On-campus learning will end by Thanksgiving break and instruction will continue online through Dec. 4. Finals are Dec. 7–11. Class times, locations, and schedules will be adjusted to allow for physical distancing. These changes will be communicated when finalized. We plan to accommodate students who may need to remain on campus after Thanksgiving for clinicals or athletics.

All classes will be delivered in-person and online at the same time to accommodate students with underlying conditions or those who become ill. Faculty are developing online learning components so they can give students support and attention. Clear course outcomes will be articulated, and support services will be emphasized perhaps now more than ever. Additionally, faculty will use Canvas and other LVC-supported technology whenever possible to streamline electronic course delivery.

Residential Life
We will decrease the density in our residential facilities for the fall. Currently, we plan on double occupancy with strict hygiene and physical distancing practices in place. The College has temporarily extended the Housing Exemption process to allow current residential students the opportunity to live off-campus in the local community and expanded the commuting radius to allow current residential students who live beyond 30 miles of campus the opportunity to commute for the 2020–21 academic year. A staggered move-in and modified orientation schedule will be developed. Plans for these will be communicated soon.

Health Protocols
The College is identifying a healthcare partner or partners who can advise and assist us with temperature-taking, testing, tracing, and managing suspected or confirmed cases should they occur on campus. More information will be shared when the partnership has been finalized. Protocols for dining, masking, physical distancing, and pedestrian flow are being developed, and there will be an educational campaign to promote these habits and hygiene practices. Learning spaces will be reconfigured so that desks and podiums can be organized to support physical distancing. Facility services already uses the proper cleaning products to disinfect spaces and is acquiring hand sanitizer stations to place throughout campus. We are bringing employees back to campus to prepare for the return of students through a phased process guided by new pandemic and employee policies that employees can find in ADP.

If there are any positive COVID-19 cases in the campus community, an alert will be issued to employees and students via email and text through the College’s emergency alert system (Omnilert) and posted to the LVC website and social media. Even in instances when the risk is low, we want to ensure all members of our community have the information they need to make decisions about their well-being.

Future Communications
Virtual town halls will be held throughout the summer for returning and new students, faculty, staff, trustees, leadership council members, and prospective students to hear directly from campus leadership and have their questions answered.

Additionally, faculty, staff, students, families, and trustees will regularly receive an LVC Forward e-newsletter with information about the latest decisions and developments. All updates and alerts will be posted to a new LVC Forward blog on the LVC website as well. This searchable space will serve as a hub for all information related to our return to campus and strategic initiatives that unfold as part of the process.

The College will continue to adapt and add detail to the plans as we receive additional guidance from the federal government, the PA Department of Health and Department of Education, the NCAA and MAC Conference, and any healthcare partners. The remaining unknowns and uncertainties require us all to remain flexible and agile so that we can quickly adjust to new circumstances as needed.

My tenure at the College concludes at the end of this month. Dorry and I are so grateful to have been a part of this community, which delivers one of the finest educational experiences in the nation. You can be confident that LVC is welcoming a leader who has proven experience in managing a crisis. Dr. MacLaren was instrumental in Tulane University’s recovery after Hurricane Katrina. He and his wife, Gina, will arrive in Annville very soon. With his leadership and the enduring dedication and resilience of all, LVC will emerge from this global crisis stronger than ever.

Warmly, 
President Thayne 

Faculty Principles for a Successful Fall

Our college’s educational mission and the importance of supporting our students are the foundations for our academic approach to this upcoming semester. The COVID academic response faculty task force has developed these guidelines to help all of us as faculty guide our planning for what will be an unusual fall for everyone. We value the experience of meeting with our students face to face, and we hope to preserve that experience as much as possible, while also respecting scientific developments and individual health concerns.

Here are some principles for a successful fall: 

1) A Confident & Flexible Mindset: This fall, we will need to cater to various student audiences, including students who may become ill, may need to self-quarantine, or who may be immunocompromised and therefore unable to attend any in-person classes. This means that all classes must be able to be delivered both in-person and online at the same time. We need to have online learning components as developed and polished as possible before the semester begins. Building out our courses’ Canvas structure and content over the summer will minimize the stress produced by these potential fall events, and will better enable us to give our all of our students the support and attention they will need from day one. The online course development institute will help us all plan for how to create clear and compelling course content to address the diverse needs of our students.

2)  Clear Course Outcomes: What can students expect to learn from our classes? Why does this course matter? Student motivation is critical in these uncertain times, so we need to be clear about what students will get from their time with us regardless of modality. This means putting all of our course objectives front and center so that students understand what they’re learning and why it matters. This clarity in outcomes is good for students, because it increases motivation, and also good for us as instructors because it encourages us to be intentional in framing our in-person and online components to lead back to course objectives and student learning, which is the heart of our mission.  

3) Authentic LVC: Faculty Mentoring & More: Students come to us for a personalized, engaged, supportive education. Our students benefit from classes that create a community of learners, active learning strategies, one-on-one contact with professors, frequent interaction with other students, and access to the many supports for learning that we provide, like counseling, tutoring, library resources, and accessibility services. An LVC education delivered in any modality retains all of these strengths. We, as faculty, will need to be thoughtful and intentional in how we make sure that the LVC promise is fulfilled for all students, even in unprecedented circumstances.  The Online Course Development Institute will help all of us to develop courses that create these connections online.

4) Relational Education: Personalized attention is a hallmark of an LVC education. There are ways to create such relationships in different modalities. Just a few ideas to consider include: require office hour attendance or set up one-on-one appointments in the first two weeks to get to know your students individually; incentivize office hour attendance in the participation grade or extra credit; in online components, include some synchronous discussions with clear expectations for participation and engagement; create small group projects or activities that encourage students to connect with you and with each other. The Online Course Development Institute will help us create courses that foster these important connections. 

5) Support for Student Success: Many students are experiencing a great deal of stress due to the current situation, driven by various factors like economic anxiety, career prospects, family obligations and fears, and general uncertainty. Consider how you can support student success in your classes through practices like 1) including early, low-stakes assignments that allow students to gauge expectations and change behaviors early in the course, 2) minimizing dependence on high-stakes assignments, 3) incentivizing or integrating campus support services like study pods, 4) scaffolding large assignments to help students manage their time and produce better final products, and 5) monitoring student attendance and performance, and sending a CARE referral when concerns arise. 

6)  Streamlining the e-Delivery of Learning Materials: To whatever degree possible, use Canvas and LVC-supported supplemental technology. This will reduce the learning curve for students. Students are enrolled in 4-5 fall courses; if every course is using different styles of communication, organization, and varied technological tools, then students have to spend extra time learning and adjusting to each course’s particularities when that time could have been spent on the course’s content and skills. The online learning task force is working to provide guidance in this area so that we are able to honor academic freedom/disciplinary choices while being student-centered.

Know that the two faculty COVID response task forces (academic response & online learning) are working to enable successful fall for all the members of our LVC community. We will be in frequent communication, and you may also reach out to our faculty liaisons:

Academic Response TF liaison: Laura Eldred, eldred@lvc.edu
Online Learning/Digital Divide TF liaison: TBD

Our best wishes for a safe and successful year,

The members of the COVID academic response faculty task force:
Patrick Brewer
Monica Cowart (Chair)
Deanna Dodson
Tom Dompier
Laura Eldred
Jen Kanupka
Courtney Lappas
Joerg Meindl
Renee Norris
Wally Patton
Jeff Robbins