Fall '22 Return to Campus


Dear Faculty Colleagues, 
Welcome to a new academic year! I hope your summer was relaxing and filled with purpose. I am looking forward to seeing many of you at the new student convocation on Aug. 26, but I also hope our paths will cross in person before then as you return to your offices and classrooms. I extend an especially warm welcome to our new faculty.
I am writing to you today to address a few key items before students return to campus. Special thanks to Leon Wiebers, Chair of Theatre Arts and Faculty Senate president, with whom I have been in touch throughout the summer. 
Those of you who were teaching on campus last fall will recall that we required all students, faculty, and staff to remain up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines. In Jan. 2022 we required eligible community members to provide proof that they have received a COVID-19 booster within one month of eligibility, unless they have a medical or religious exemption. While we await further instruction regarding boosters from public health authorities, we will adhere to these measures to keep the campus community safe.
The LMU COVID-19 Testing Center has been doing an incredible job of providing timely test results to LMU students, faculty, staff, and contractors. Some changes to the center’s hours, registration process, and test turnaround times have been posted to their website, and I encourage you to familiarize yourself with the policies ahead of the start of the academic year. 
We ask that you please receive a negative COVID-19 test before you return to campus or if you have been working on campus, before the start of classes on Aug. 29. We are asking all students to arrive to campus with a negative COVID-19 test as we are doing everything possible to reduce the risk of transmission on campus. 
As you may have seen in a recent Community Advisory, LMU has recently lifted the mask requirement on campus. We continue to recommend masks in indoor settings, and we welcome community members who choose to mask. Please refrain from implementing your own masking policies in the classroom. If you wish to encourage masking in your classroom, you may add a section in your syllabus and/or make an announcement in your first class, but we ask that you ultimately respect each student, faculty, and staff member’s masking choice.  
We are looking forward to having our students back on campus this fall, but the reality is that a number of students, faculty, and staff will more than likely contract COVID-19 at some point during the semester. I remind you that attendance policies, policies regarding make-up work, and generally how you choose to accommodate sick students are up to the faculty member teaching the course. I encourage you to utilize the resources available to you from the Center for Teaching Excellence when you are putting together your syllabi. Please be as communicative with your students as possible early on in the semester to avoid misunderstandings.
We want to establish structure, encourage in-person programming, and keep our classrooms safe and COVID-19 free, and for this reason I encourage you to be flexible when working with students who have tested positive. Each school and college has a COVID-19 safety liaison you can reach out to with questions or concerns.
Starting this fall, the L.A. County Public Health policy for close contact notifications will now include all individuals in a classroom, up to 30 people, regardless of physical proximity to the exposed case. In classrooms of 30+, anyone seated within six feet of the infected individual will receive an exposure notice.
You may have received few, if any, COVID-19 exposure notifications last year if a student in your class tested positive. You will likely receive many more notices about COVID-19 exposure based on this new policy. There is no cause for alarm, but it is something to be aware of when preparing for your return to campus this fall. While the CDC has recently provided updated information about testing and exposure notice, LMU bases our policies on local and state public health authorities so we will likely differ from the CDC at times. This COVID-19 dashboard helps me put things in perspective when considering our student body of over 10,000 and over 2,000 faculty and staff.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared monkeypox a Public Health Emergency. LMU’s campus safety teams are following the advice of the L.A. County Department of Public Health and closely monitoring the situation. At the moment, the risk of monkeypox remains very low based on the information available. We will be providing information to students and their families ahead of the start of the academic year and we will do what we can to educate our campus community about this virus as we receive further guidance.
As always, things will change as the semester goes on and I encourage you to check LMU This Week, LMU Together, and LMU Community Advisories for the most up-to-date information. I appreciate your support of our campus community and look forward to a successful start of the school year.


Thomas Poon, Ph.D. 
Executive Vice President and Provost 
Professor of Chemistry