Message From the Provost to Faculty & Staff: Academic Calendar and Other Updates

Dear Colleagues,

As a follow-up to last week’s Comprehensive Community Update, I share additional guidance about our academic calendar, fall planning survey, campus access, and preparation guidelines for fall. I remain indebted to you for your commitment to delivering our high-quality educational experience. Together, we are carefully planning for the fall semester and assuring that our decisions are anchored in our guiding principles, advancement of our mission, our commitment to health and safety, and our pursuit of academic excellence. For fall to be a success, we must continue adapting together with flexibility, patience, and a shared vision for how we support our students.

Academic Calendar
As I outlined in our May 14 town hall meeting, we have been considering changes to the academic calendar. After receiving updated guidance from the Department of Education and in continued consultation with, and advice from, our EOC recovery groups, the Deans’ Council, the Faculty Senate, and faculty members, we reconsidered the original plans I described and instead offer the following approach for fall 2020:

  • Our fall semester will be on a 16-week calendar, with instruction beginning on Aug. 31 and concluding on Dec. 11. Finals take place the following week.
  • The last day of in-person instruction will be Nov. 24. Following Thanksgiving break, from Nov. 30 to the end of the semester, instruction, as well as final examinations, will only be conducted remotely.
  • Classes within time blocks will be staggered and there will be 30 minutes between classes to allow for physical distancing.
  • We will not observe Autumn Day.
  • The short January (“J”) term, which was proposed in earlier discussions, will not be employed.
Key fall semester dates are:
  • Aug. 31, 2020: First Day of Instruction
  • Sept. 7, 2020: Labor Day
  • Nov. 24, 2020: Last Day of In-Person Instruction
  • Nov. 30, 2020: Remote Instruction Begins
  • Dec. 11, 2020: Last Day of Instruction
  • Dec. 14-18, 2020: Finals
For spring 2021, we are planning a 16-week semester beginning Jan. 11, as scheduled. Spring break will coincide with our Easter break and start the Tuesday before Easter, with instruction resuming the Tuesday after Easter. The Monday before Easter will be designated as a remote learning day to allow for maximum travel flexibility.

Faculty Planning Survey and Engagement
  • I am grateful for the valuable input from the nearly 850 full- and part-time faculty who responded to our Fall Semester Planning Survey. Though we may not be able to honor everyone’s requests, we sought as many perspectives as possible, and I believe we distilled them effectively. Next week you will be receiving a communication from Human Resources that will provide information and instruction on how to request an accommodation.
  • After continued consultation with the Faculty Senate president, we added faculty representation to the EOC recovery groups.
Preparing for Virtual Instruction
While we move forward with plans to resume on-campus instruction for fall 2020, all faculty will need to be prepared to transition their classes to remote learning, should circumstances surrounding the pandemic change before or during the fall semester. Such a change could occur with no advance notice, so we must have the capacity to “flip the switch” at any time. As a reminder, I strongly encourage you to attend additional faculty workshops on remote instruction during summer, and to complete the e-faculty training if you have not already done so. Excellent virtual and hybrid instruction involves distinct pedagogical principles that you may consider incorporating into your course design and teaching practices. Further information about training opportunities can be found here.

Faculty Campus Access June 1 – 9
In support of summer instruction, research, and preparation for the fall, we are providing a final campus access period during the summer so that you may retrieve critical items from your office. Given the Safer at Home order, we must exercise care in staggering brief visits in the coming weeks. Please sign up for one, 1-hour time slot here. To facilitate your access, assure the safety of you and others, and to ensure that Public Safety is expecting you, please sign-up a minimum of 48 hours in advance; you may not sign-up the day before or for same-day visits.

The following schedule provides times available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day for specific buildings:
  • June 1-3: Burns Fine Arts Complex, Pereira Hall and Annex, Foley, Foley Annex, Doolan, St. Roberts Hall, University Hall;
  • June 4-6: East Hall, Research Annex, North Hall, Engineering and Design Center, South Hall, Life Sciences Building, Comm Arts, University Hall;
  • June 7-9: Xavier, Seaver, Hilton, University Hall.
Please note, LMU continues to abide by state, county, and city public health mandates:
  • Campuses remain closed, with the exception of resident students, essential personnel, and permanent residents, until we announce the reopening;
  • Anyone approved to access campus must wear a face covering at all times and prior to entering campus entrances.
Additional Safety Measures for Fall 2020
We continue to refine comprehensive strategies for infection control ahead of the fall semester. We are addressing every facet of campus life, including instruction, housing, and events. We will share guidelines in the coming weeks, but below is a preview of what you can expect in August:
  • Physical distancing strategies will be implemented on our campuses, with heightened safety measures in learning and meeting spaces;
  • All spaces (including classrooms and common areas) will observe adjusted maximum capacities, in accordance with the 6-foot requirement. We will not convene large lecture classes;
  • Learning spaces will be cleaned after every use, with EPA-approved materials;
  • Every academic building will utilize designated entry and exit doors to minimize individuals passing in proximity between classes.
We are developing comprehensive plans to respond proactively to any individual who is symptomatic, tests positive for COVID-19, or has been in close contact with someone who tests positive. This plan includes aggressive testing, contact tracing, and isolation/quarantine measures. Our students, faculty, and staff will require flexibility to determine their individual interests concerning their health and safety in the fall. We must adapt to evolving circumstances and support community members by offering options for how we teach, learn, work, and live.

I often hear people refer to LMU as “our university” and even “my university.” That small iteration brings with it profound implications: Each of us cares for LMU as if it were our own. And, in the way we care for each other, respect each other, and enact cura personalis in each encounter, the university, indeed, belongs to each of us. Thank you for your care and your impactful contributions.

With appreciation,
Tom

Thomas Poon, Ph.D.
Executive Vice President and Provost