Lehigh filed a lawsuit against AllianzGI for allegedly mismanaging university endowment funds. (Emily Hu/B&W Staff)

Update on fall semester: Tuition, Pacing Break, First Year Orientation and more

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A new email from the university released earlier today laid out new expectations and guidelines for the fall 2020 semester. 

Provost Nathan Urban and Pat Johnson, the vice president of Finance and Administration, said in the email that tuition will be held at the 2019-20 rate of $54,790, rather than the planned increased rate of $56,980. The student activity fee for the fall semester will be waived. 

The email said that although the goal has been to welcome students back to campus, that goal may not be truly attainable. 

“The Commonwealth is recommending that travelers from 18 states quarantine for 14 days upon returning to Pennsylvania. International travelers are being asked to do the same. We are also learning more, though there is still much to learn, about the spread of the virus, including through closed spaces and by asymptomatic individuals. There is a current strain on the testing infrastructure that could limit our testing capabilities and the turnaround time for results,” the email said. “Given these factors — which have serious implications for our testing protocols, the quarantining of students coming from “hot spots,” and the de-densification of living spaces — our goal may not be possible.” 

If students have signed a housing contract, but would like to take their classes remotely, they may break their on-campus housing contract with no penalty, the email said. 

Fall Pacing Break, scheduled for Oct. 12-13, will now occur Nov. 23-24 to give students time to travel home for Thanksgiving. All class instruction and exams will be conducted remotely following Thanksgiving. 

The email said that the details surrounding First Year Orientation, as well as preLUsion programs, are still unfolding, and incoming students will receive information from the Office of First Year Experience regarding the format and schedule of orientation.

The email said that Family Orientation, Student Convocation, The Rally, Founder’s Celebration and Family Week — orientation traditions that have been held in person — will be conducted virtually this fall. 

The email also announced that Registration and Academic Services will be updating its FAQ page to provide more information about the changes to course schedules for the fall semester, including the format for which each course will be conducted. 

For students who have already registered for courses, RAS is “working to keep the times and days of most courses the same, but some changes may be needed as rooms are assigned to comply with social distancing requirements.” 

“Any changes will be communicated and students will have an opportunity to make final changes to their schedules,” the email said.

For first-year students, course registration opens July 27. Since the move to remote learning last March, more than 350 faculty members have participated in workshops and training to enhance their online teaching capabilities, Urban and Johnson said. 

The email said that they will be hosting a live video series to address questions and provide updates on their reopening plans. 

“We recognize the uncertainty families are experiencing in light of this information and are appreciative of your continued understanding as we work continuously to finalize these plans, which prioritize the health and safety of all,” the email said. 

Lehigh will be hosting the first in a series of live video conversations with university leaders to answer questions and speak on the university’s plans to reopen. Additional information and a date will be provided at a later time. 

“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve across the country, we know the fall semester will be unlike any we have seen before, and will require tremendous flexibility and resilience from all of us,” the email said. 

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