Lake Superior State University announced today that in addition to planning for face-to-face instruction for Fall 2020 they are also adjusting the academic calendar. Instead of beginning classes on August 24th, instruction will commence on Monday, August 10th and the semester will conclude prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. As the administration analyzed plans for face-to-face instruction for the Fall semester, it became apparent that many of the safety considerations and protocols under consideration can be greatly enhanced if the university enables students to travel to campus early and complete the semester by Thanksgiving.
At the outset of the COVID-19 outbreak, President, Rodney S. Hanley charged his leadership team with evaluating all options and taking the necessary steps to ensure the most responsible and full-fledged campus operations that can be delivered safely given environmental constraints. Provost, Lynn Gillette began working with administrators and faculty to develop plans for safe operations. These dialogs included planning of fall course delivery, academic support, residence life, dining, and all university activities. President Hanley indicated “Paramount in university planning is the overriding principle that students, faculty, and staff feel safe and secure in the environment. We will do everything possible to protect our students, their families, and the university community in our endeavor to deliver a meaningful fall campus experience.”
Leveraging best practice risk mitigation strategies, the team made recommendations regarding health screenings, social distancing, sanitization and disinfecting, masking, classroom spacing, facilities as well as residence life and dining enhancements. As these plans evolved, the strategy that students could come to campus and complete their coursework before the Thanksgiving break became very attractive in terms of safety. Without the traditional holiday break, students’ studies can continue unabated for the Fall 2020 semester without the need to travel in the beginning of cold and flu season.
Moreover, LSSU will shift the start of the Spring Semester later than usual to enable students to be home for a more significant time before traveling and shifting spring break so that the university would remain in continuous operation for the term and minimize the risk associated with spring travel. Current plans project starting Spring 2021 semester January 19 and concluding the term April 30th.
While the situation may seem fluid, the intimate nature of Lake Superior State University and the creativity and commitment of the faculty and staff enable the flexibility to deliver a supportive and healthy learning environment. Campus administration will continually monitor environmental conditions and is committed to investing in the student experience and delivering the high quality instruction we are known for while keeping all of our constituents safe and secure. President Hanley stated “We understand conditions may change, however, we have engaged in thoughtful and robust preparation and planning that we believe will make for the safest environment for our students.”
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