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Coronavirus
(COVID-19)

Information Center

Academics

Last Updated: Nov. 18, 2020 at 2:46 pm

Lehigh remains committed to delivering a high-quality academic experience for our students. Though the realities of COVID-19 mean that the academic year is different than those that have come before, our faculty fully engage with, challenge and teach students in a way that retains the essence of a Lehigh education.

The spring curriculum will be offered in a way that will support students who will be coming to the campus, as well as students who are unable to be present in classrooms. Students will be able to select courses based on their circumstances, as follows (please note the minor adjustments from fall to spring):

On-Campus Required 

This has not changed. These courses are not appropriate for students who cannot be present in person. This course is fully or partially on campus and requires enrolled students to have access to the classroom in order to complete the course. Remote students may not register for courses that are marked as "On-Campus Required."

Remote - Synchronous

A course listed as “remote-synchronous” will require students to participate remotely at a specific time and day of the week. Although these classes do not require students to be on campus, participation may include synchronous and/or asynchronous coursework. If the course description includes specific days and times, students will be expected to participate at the assigned time. If a student will be living in a time zone other than the Lehigh campus’s local time zone (EST), they should confirm that they will be able to participate effectively. 

Remote - Asynchronous 

A course listed as “remote-asynchronous” will be fully remote, but students will be able to participate at any time. These classes never require students to be on campus to participate. A student living in a time zone other than the Lehigh campus’s local time zone (EST) will be able to view recordings, post reactions in discussion boards, upload coursework, etc., as appropriate. 

Flexible - Classroom 

A “flexible” course will be taught on-campus, but instruction and activities are also available online (whether synchronously or asynchronously). These courses are open to remote students. Participation in the educational experience may include both synchronous and asynchronous coursework. If the course schedule includes specific days and times, this suggests that the instructor will be delivering course material synchronously during that time, but students can presume that coursework can be completed either in person or entirely online. What is NEW: Students will enroll in a “flexible-classroom” section if they will be participating in person. 

Flexible - Remote 

A course listed as “flexible-remote” is cross-listed with the same course section listed as flexible-classroom, but if a student will be participating remotely, they must enroll in the “flexible-remote” section. Students should understand that the reason for cross-listing sections in this way is to guide instructors, who have found it difficult to plan a class without knowing how many students planned to be on-campus and how many planned to remain online. Although students may shift from the classroom to remote learning temporarily if they need to do so, the expectation is that they will choose a mode and keep it throughout the semester. Of course, conditions may require a temporary or longer-term shift in the modality (such as a COVID spike in the class or on campus). 

For more detailed information regarding course attributes, including a chart outlining the differences between the formats, visit the "General Academics" section on the RAS COVID-19 FAQs page.

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Community Conversations | Academics

Watch Provost Nathan Urban discuss the Lehigh academic experience in the Fall 2020 semester with members of the senior leadership team.

Watch Lehigh Community Conversations >

Frequently Asked Questions

We learned a tremendous amount about remote learning from the spring semester, not just from our experiences, but also from others across the higher education community, and we will greatly enhance our online and remote capabilities in the fall. Since the Spring, more than 350 faculty have participated in workshops and other forms of training in online and technology-enhanced teaching and are well-prepared to meet the high academic standards of teaching our students and families rightly expect. We have invested in additional classroom technology for creating a better learning experience for students in the classroom and online. This also involves providing critical opportunities for faculty and students to build meaningful connections with one another, whether in person or online. Our faculty are prepared to fully engage with, challenge and teach students in a way that will retain the essence of a Lehigh education.

No - Students must decide if they will pursue the "fully remote" option at the beginning of the semester so that our health and safety plans can adequately account for a certain number of people in campus facilities. 

Classroom and lab space have been modified to comply with social distancing requirements. Cleaning schedules are adjusted based on the activity in campus buildings, with a focus on the ongoing cleaning and disinfection of all entrances, door handles, and high-traffic areas on campus in accordance with the latest CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH) guidelines. Hand sanitizers are located at entrances to all buildings and dining and high-traffic areas. Ventilation systems were adjusted to reduce air recirculation and upgrade air filtration.  We provided a wellness/safety starter kit for all faculty, staff and students, which includes masks, hand sanitizer and other personal items.

 

Classrooms: In addition to daily cleaning, each classroom space is equipped with spray sanitizer and towels for students and faculty to use prior to or after each class. Facilities stock and maintain these classroom supplies. Instructors can request additional PPE and also request access to larger spaces, including some outdoor tented spaces. Plexiglass shields and dividers were installed in some classrooms. Instructors with ideas about how to make their classrooms or other educational spaces safer can make these suggestions to their department chairs and deans.

 

Offices: Individual cubicle and office cleaning will continue to be completed weekly. Additional focus is given to cleaning and sanitizing touchpoints. Before you leave any room in which you have been working or eating you should swab down all work or eating areas with EPA-registered disinfectant. This includes your private workspace or any shared-space location or equipment.

Undergraduate students considering a leave of absence should discuss their plans with their academic advisor, and reach out to the Office of Academic Life and Student Transitions. This office oversees the process that a student must complete in order to take a leave of absence. Please note that the process to take a leave of absence should be completed before the start of the semester of the leave.

If unapproved leaves are taken, students are declared as non-returning and must request readmission through the Dean of Students if they wish to re-enroll in a future term. Courses taken at another college or university while on an unapproved leave will not be permitted to transfer toward a Lehigh University baccalaureate degree.

It is extremely important to seek approval for the transfer of courses before beginning coursework at another university. Lehigh’s course approval process involves both the Office of Registration and Academic Services (RAS) and academic departments; faculty evaluate courses for transfer based on their equivalency and rigor. Courses taken at rigorous four-year institutions are viewed more favorably by faculty.

Applying what we have learned and what has proven successful this past fall, our goal for the spring is to:

  1. Modestly expand our on-campus residential capacity;
  2. Increase the number of courses that have and require in-person participation;
  3. and Further expand our COVID-19 testing protocols as we look to increase the number of students on campus

Our plan aligns with our focus on delivering an exceptional Lehigh experience and supporting the health and safety of the Lehigh and Bethlehem communities. Its execution assumes the spread of the virus in the spring will be similar to the levels seen throughout the early part of this fall and that the current surge we are seeing locally and across the country will subside before mid-January.

For those choosing the “fully remote” option:

  • You must elect the “fully remote” option to receive the 10-percent reduction in undergraduate tuition for the Fall semester.
  • No student, even if already registered in all online classes, is automatically considered “fully remote.”
  • Students living in campus housing are not eligible for the “fully remote” option.
  • Student-athletes participating in the athletics program are not eligible for the "fully remote" option.
  • Those who elect the “fully remote” option, whether they live off campus in South Bethlehem or elsewhere, will forgo all access to campus classrooms and facilities, with the exception of the Health and Wellness Center. This means you will not be able to attend in-person classes.
  • A student registered for exclusively online courses living off-campus in South Bethlehem who wants access to the limited but available campus facilities, such as the library and the gym, should not elect the “fully remote” option and therefore would not be eligible for the tuition reduction.

For those who do not select the “fully remote” option:

  • Even if all of your courses are remote, you are electing to access campus facilities and will not receive the 10-percent tuition reduction.
  • Students will have access to academic facilities as needed for their academic programs.
  • Undergraduate students engaged in on-campus research can do so with the permission of the faculty advisor and must complete required safety training.
  • University libraries, the University Center, and athletic facilities will operate under strict health and safety protocols; access may be limited for health and safety reasons.
  • You can participate in on-campus activities such as student organization-sponsored programs or events, possible spring semester athletic events, or any increased campus access that may occur as the semester progresses. 

First, students should focus on staying home when sick and supporting their personal health, safety and wellness. Students should keep in contact with their professors about any course conflicts and work directly with their professors on a plan to make up any missed coursework. Faculty will accommodate quarantining needs throughout the semester.

For extenuating circumstances, students who are unable to keep pace with studies in a given course should speak with the professor regarding how to complete the course. In some instances, it may be appropriate for a student to “take an incomplete,” meaning that the student would receive a temporary semester grade of N and complete some coursework after the end of the semester. For information on this process, and the circumstances under which it might be appropriate to take an incomplete, see the University Catalog’s information on the definition of grades (specifically the N grade).

There are a variety of situations that might lead a student to withdraw from an individual course. A student who has missed a very large proportion of the first half of a course might decide to withdraw before the withdrawal deadline. In a regular semester, a student may withdraw through the 11th week of the semester; see the Lehigh Catalog for additional information on course withdrawals.

In the event of a health situation that requires a student to withdraw from the university (that is, withdraw from all courses), the student may apply for a medical withdrawal. Supporting health documentation is required. In the event of a medical withdrawal from all courses in a semester, certified by the Dean of Students, tuition will be refunded in proportion to the semester remaining.

All undergraduate students must be enrolled in 12 credit hours in a semester to hold full-time status. Incoming first-year students must enroll in a minimum of 12 credit hours of courses, or they will have their status changed to a nondegree student. Returning students may enroll in fewer than 12 credits and remain degree-seeking students, but they will be considered part-time students. There are a number of implications to this, and it is important to understand the ramifications of going part-time or (for first-year students) being a nondegree student.

First, students should consider time to degree. Students need to complete an average of 15 to 17 credit hours for eight semesters in order to complete their degrees in four years. (The exact number of credit hours required for a degree varies by college.) If students take a lower course load, they will need to take additional courses in other semesters.

There are also financial aid implications. Undergraduates must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credits (full-time status) in order to receive institutional financial aid, and maintaining good academic progress for financial aid purposes requires a student to complete 24 credit hours in an academic year. There are also implications to the schedule for paying back loans, so it is important to speak with your financial aid advisor about these implications.

Finally, there are implications for your privileges as a Lehigh student. Certain students, such as athletes and ROTC students, must maintain full-time status. Students should also be aware that they are eligible to join a fraternity or sorority only after successfully completing a full-time Lehigh schedule of 12 credit hours or more and earning a 2.500 GPA or higher, so going part-time may affect your ability to rush, and there may be other implications for leadership positions in clubs and organizations. Students’ eligibility to enroll in Lehigh’s student health insurance plan varies by credit load.

With the exception of cross-registering for courses at LVAIC institutions, Lehigh students may not be simultaneously enrolled at two institutions; that is, students may not take Lehigh courses and take courses at another institution at the same time. Generally speaking, students who wish to take courses at another university would need to take a leave of absence if they are continuing students or defer their admission.

Students should talk with their advisor, and must speak with Lehigh’s director of retention, Dr. Donna Mohr (inretain@lehigh.edu), about their plans. Students must complete the permanent withdrawal/non-return form in advance of the start of the semester.

The first day of classes of the Spring 2021 semester will be February 1. The university has delayed the spring term by one week to give additional time for staff and faculty to prepare the campus.

February 1 will be the first day of classes for the spring semester.

No. Spring Break, previously scheduled for March 15-19, will be canceled. We encourage students to stay on campus as much as possible once they arrive for the spring semester, as this will reduce the risk of infection and transmission of the coronavirus.

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