Dear Colleagues,

As the academic year comes to a close, we have shifted our institutional focus from COVID-19 crisis response to the challenges COVID-19 brings to our community, academic program, and daily work. In May, President Burstein established a team of faculty, staff, and students to research and recommend how to approach our learning and living, and working environment for the academic year 2020-21 and beyond: the Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team (LPPT).   

The LPPT is preparing three possible living and learning modes:  

  • Full Mode (high on-campus student residency, courses taught in-person and via distance learning) 
  • Flex Mode (moderate on-campus density, with a mix of students residing on- and off-campus; a mix of distance and in-person courses) 
  • Distance Mode (like spring 2020: low on-campus student residency, courses taught remotely)  

The LPPT comprises five working groups, each addressing different facets related to Full, Flex, and Distance modes. Working groups consist of Lawrentians who bring expertise or important perspectives to the various planning areas. The five groups are:  

  • Health  
  • Curricular  
  • Co-Curricular  
  • Outside In  
  • Employees & Legal Aspects

A description of each group’s focus, a full list of the group chairs and members, and information on work to date is available on the COVID-19 News blog.

Each group has been meeting separately to review current research from expert sources and apply its developing knowledge to its focus area. The heads of each working group have been meeting periodically, as well, to share progress, questions, and possible solutions. By the end of June, each of the groups will have completed its work and will share their findings to President Burstein and the Cabinet, who will consult with faculty representatives and the Board of Trustees to deliver their final plan in the month of July. Our goal is to move as quickly as possible so faculty and staff can begin working immediately toward starting the academic year. 

Preparing for the fall will be a full community effort, engaging both individual departments and offices and the existing committees within our governance structure, and we’d like to thank everyone in advance for their efforts to successfully launch an academic year in this challenging environment. Information about the SARS-CoV-2 changes every week. It is likely LPPT will need to continue to meet periodically as our understanding of the virus unfolds and campus and Fox Cities conditions change. If a policy change is needed after fall term begins, the LPPT would discuss options with appropriate shared governance.

We will share important information before that final plan is announced. For example, we can share with you today that the start of the 2020-21 academic year has been finalized. Upon the recommendation of the LPPT and following consultation with the Faculty Governance Committee and the Curriculum Committee, the Cabinet has decided to start the 2020-21 academic year at its original date: classes will start on September 14. In addition, December Term 2020 will not take place. 

If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback, please refer them to your supervisor or a member of the LPPT. Thank you for your ongoing patience, cooperation, and work as we all learn to adapt and live with COVID-19.   

On behalf of the Lawrence Pandemic Planning Team,  
Christyn Abaray  
Assistant to the President  
LPPT Project Manager