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.
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.
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.
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.