Message from the Provost to Students: Update on the Fall Semester

Dear Lions:

Thank you for your patience and flexibility as we carefully prepare for our fall semester. We miss you and are eager for you to continue your academic journey on the bluff. We remain committed to returning to our beautiful campus in fall, in alignment with forthcoming guidelines from public health authorities. We also recognize that our approaches to in-person teaching and campus life during the 2020-21 academic year will be more varied than in pre-pandemic times. As we always do, our community will continue to adapt to provide the best possible range of teaching and learning and co-curricular activities, and our world-class faculty will draw upon their teaching prowess, scholarship, expertise, and creativity to deliver our academic excellence. Our spacious campus and reliable Southern California climate will afford us unique opportunities for community and academic engagement.

Guiding Principles
As we address the challenges of this unprecedented moment our guiding principles anchor our approach:
  • LMU’s Catholic, Jesuit, and Marymount mission and values charge us to educate with purpose. We benefit from the diversity of perspectives that drive our creativity and ambitions;
  • We will continue to align our evidence-based decisions with recommendations from public health authorities as the health and wellness of our community is our top priority;
  • Our students, faculty, and staff will require flexibility to determine their individual needs concerning their health and safety in the fall. We will adapt to developing circumstances and support community members by offering options for how we teach, learn, work, and live to ensure that our students retain access to the personalized educational excellence on which we pride ourselves;
  • We will be responsible stewards of our resources as we navigate the financial impacts of the pandemic and economic downturn, always with an eye toward academic excellence and education of the whole person.
Academic Calendar
After receiving updated guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and in continued consultation with, and advice from a multitude of campus leaders, we share the following schedule 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 will take place Dec. 14-18.
  • To avoid an increase in infections due to travel during the Thanksgiving break, the last day of in-person instruction will be Nov. 24. Students will not return to campus following Thanksgiving. Instead, instruction from Nov. 30 to the end of the semester, as well as final examinations, will only be conducted remotely.
  • Classes within time blocks will be staggered to allow for physical distancing. We are working to minimize the impact on student schedules and the Registrar will send a further communication in late June.
Key fall semester dates are:
  • Aug. 31, 2020: First Day of Instruction
  • Sept. 7, 2020: Labor Day, no classes
  • 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. Spring break will coincide with our Easter break and start Tuesday, March 30, with instruction resuming Tuesday, April 6. Monday, March 29, will be designated as a remote learning day to allow for maximum travel flexibility.

Fall Semester Outlook
We continue to refine comprehensive strategies for infection control ahead of the fall semester; and are addressing every facet of campus life, including instruction, housing, dining, and events. In all instances, we will follow directives from public health authorities. We strive to deliver a joyous and fulfilling term while keeping you healthy and safe.

We will continue to communicate with you during the summer weeks, but here is a preview of what you can expect to see on campus this August:
  • All spaces (including classrooms and common areas) will observe adjusted maximum capacities, in accordance with the 6-foot distancing requirement. We will not convene large lecture classes;
  • Learning spaces will be cleaned regularly with EPA-approved materials;
  • To the extent that it is possible, academic buildings will have designated entry and exit doors;
  • We will have a comprehensive plan to proactively respond to any individual who is symptomatic, tests positive for COVID-19, or has been in close contact with someone who tests positive;
  • At the start of the semester, we expect public health authorities to limit attendance at athletics events and performances subject to physical distancing requirements;
  • We anticipate further guidance specific to higher education institutions, with measures tailored to our unique environment.
CARES Relief Update
On May 21, the U.S. Department of Education released new guidance regarding student eligibility for CARES Act funding. LMU Financial Aid is revising the university’s plan to begin disbursement of funds based on this new information. More details will be announced soon.

Staying Informed and Engaged
We welcome your questions and comments related to pandemic response and recovery. We will continue communicating regularly through our website, social channels, email, LMU This Week, and university leaders. We will share another update by June 30. In the meantime, please note the following resources:
  • LMU’s Coronavirus Website continues to be the hub for latest updates;
  • The #LMUTogether campaign showcases stories that inspire our community with creativity and resilience;
  • Student Affairs’ Virtual Student Experience provides Lions with ways to stay engaged and connected with the LMU community. 
This global pandemic has turned our lives upside down, but it will not prevent us from forming compassionate individuals who are prepared to lead lives of meaning and purpose — people, like yourselves, who change, shape, and create the world you want to live in. Together, we will rise from this crisis more connected, more impactful, and stronger than ever.

With gratitude,

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