Lee Mandates Masks, Shifts Fall Schedule
In a message to Lee University staff and faculty on Monday, July 20, Lee President Dr. Paul Conn announced several updates to the university’s reopening plan for its fall semester, scheduled to begin August 19.
One of the changes announced in Monday’s email included upgrading the policy on use of face coverings (masks) on campus from “recommended” to “required.” Employees will now wear masks whenever they move about campus, in public places or gatherings, or in any multi-staff workplaces where social distancing cannot be guaranteed.
Starting with the fall semester, students will also be required to wear masks when on campus. This does not apply to students when they are in their dorm rooms. The Task Force will discuss further ground rules for potential exceptions to the masking requirement while in the classroom, group meetings, or in other semi-public settings.
“Given the rate of infection locally, which is roughly equivalent to state and national figures,” Murray said of the change, “it’s safer for everyone to start the semester with this requirement in place, and then as this crisis develops, adjustments can be made to the way it is practiced in individual classes and other campus locations.”
Conn also announced a new fall schedule, which will allow students to complete their classes by Wednesday, Nov. 25. When students and faculty leave campus for the Thanksgiving weekend, they will not need to return until Jan. 12, 2021, for the spring semester. Many universities have switched to this schedule to lessen exposure following the holiday break.
To accomplish this change in the fall semester calendar without loss of class days, the fall break, originally scheduled for mid-October, will be canceled. Winter Commencement is still scheduled to take place December 11-12.
“The time leading up to Christmas has always been joyful and celebratory, with concerts and other observations of the holidays,” Murray said. “We will miss that with this schedule change, but we will hopefully be able to celebrate in some way as a campus, and we’ll certainly look forward to the time when we can resume so many of these beloved traditions.”
Conn also announced the addition of new members to the Covid-19 Task Force, which has been meeting regularly since March to detail plans for a safe and effective return to campus next month.
“With the fall semester looming, we are facing a cascade of specific issues which require lots of smart and experienced leaders around the table,” said Conn.
Joining task force chair Dr. Debbie Murray, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, and over a dozen other current members from Lee’s administrative team will be nine new members, representing Academics, Athletics, Financial Aid, Information Services, and Student Development.
As announced earlier this summer, Lee plans to reopen with a full slate of in-person classes this fall, using a “hybrid” format for classroom instruction, which will include remote options where needed, utilizing a daily screening app for students and staff, and adhering to a strict social distance, cleaning, and sanitizing regimen for campus buildings, among other precautions.
The university plans to conduct all general, departmental faculty, and other staff/faculty meetings in a way which will allow and encourage participation by Zoom, either for all the participants or for those who prefer it.
The announcement was also communicated as an update to the COVID-19 Q and A for Fall 2020 in an email to students and parents. See the full Q and A here.