Lee News

Lee Extends Virtual Instruction Period to April 13

In a Thursday morning announcement, Lee University President Paul Conn extended to April 13 the school’s virtual classes in place of face-to-face instruction.

The Cleveland-based university rolled out the first such virtual classes the morning of March 19. Instead of pivoting all courses to an online environment, the university has chosen to use “Zoom,” a video-conferencing platform, as its format for the new virtual courses. University officials explained Wednesday that Zoom presents a better opportunity for campus professors to quickly convert their courses into a quality virtual classroom experience.

In this morning’s statement, Conn said the time to appropriately return students to campus and resume face-to-face instruction is a moving target, and based on all guidance from government, public health, and higher education authorities, the need to extend beyond the original goal of March 30 became certain.

The university calendar will change with this new plan, resuming classes on April 13. Conn said that this change will cause additional adjustments to the final exam schedule after three weeks of on-campus classes, but with this plan, the commencement exercises scheduled will not be changed and could go on as originally intended.

“There’s two ways to approach this,” said Conn. “When this crisis began some schools just closed it all down, emptied out the dorms, shuttered campus, and cancelled commencement. That’s one approach. It works best in terms of the institution. It’s more efficient, and it saves money for the school. But many schools like Lee have adopted a ‘wait and see’ approach and tried to make decisions as things change.

“This creates tension of not knowing what is going to happen, but we believe this gives us the best chance to salvage the semester for our students, and to make the best decisions as we go forward,” Conn said. “If we see that the April 13 date doesn’t provide a safe environment for our students and staff, we will announce that decision at the earliest possible time. We want to give ourselves time to make the best decisions, based on the rapidly evolving situation, as we go along.”

Conn also said the school’s popular “Lee Day” weekend will be redesigned as a virtual event. Lee Day is the university’s largest recruitment event of the year, scheduled for April 3-4. The weekend typically sees hundreds of high school students and their families and friends visit the Cleveland campus. School officials are designing a plan to present Lee Day through Zoom and other digital platforms this year and will announce those plans as they develop.
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