Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19)

Updates & Announcements

Thursday June 18, 2020

Resuming On-Campus Full Operational Mode

Further to the the decision of the President’s Cabinet, and after consultations with our infectious disease expert and the Emergency Health Response Committee, the University is now stepping up its gradual reopening by moving to full attendance of its Staff members on campus, starting Monday, June 22, 2020. Accordingly, office hours will be maintained on a daily basis (from 8:00 am until 2:30 pm until August 23, 2020, inclusive). 

Our first phase of gradual reopening has been positive so far, the preventive measures have been followed generally, and we are reassured with our community’s awareness and cooperation in implementing the various best practices to safeguard from COVID-19. In fact, the first phase of the gradual reopening has allowed us to address several areas of concern and challenges in our setups.

Resuming full on-campus operations requires everyone to stay very attentive and continue to adhere to these safety measures; namely in terms of social distancing, avoiding face-to-face meetings and gatherings, keeping a safe distance of 2 meters, resorting to virtual meetings instead, wearing a mask (in group settings and on campus) and frequently washing hands. It is also very well-known now that anyone with illness symptoms should refrain from coming to campus. (Please refer to the attached presentation for best practices for the return to campus).

While the goal is to reach full on-campus presence, the University is aware that some of its staff members may be immunosuppressed or have certain underlying medical conditions which may require special attention and consideration. Please discuss your case privately with your supervisor and the Health Services Office to reach a suitable arrangement.

Supervisors are kindly requested to relay this information to their team members who do not have access to email.

For any query, please feel free to reach out to the Emergency Health Response Committee’s Task Force.

Thursday May 21, 2020

Gradual Reopening of University Offices

In line with the Government’s gradual lockdown release plan, and based on the recommendation of the LAU Emergency Health Response Committee and the directives of the PC for a gradual reopening of the University, kindly note that preparations are underway to ensure a steady return of full-time staff to Campus as of Monday, June 1, 2020.

The overall plan is to gradually reduce the work from home while gradually increasing on-campus presence, moving towards full capacity as we approach the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester by the end of August 2020. 

Meanwhile, and in order to ensure the proper running of essential services, the first phase of the gradual return will bring the on-campus full-time staff capacity to around 25% per office, or higher if necessary, as long as safe social distancing is preserved. Based on the completion of this first phase in a safe and successful manner, the overall plan of gradually increasing our full-time staff capacity will be assessed on a bi-weekly basis. During this period, office hours will be operating from Monday till Friday, between 8:00 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

As the safety of our staff members remains our utmost priority, a number of measures have been put in place to adapt our physical space and procedures to the challenges of working in a post COVID-19 workplace. Additionally, special care and attention will be given to immunocompromised staff members, should their on-campus presence prove to be essential.

Reopening plans are being developed at the level of every service and department. Accordingly, full-time staff members who will be requested to return during the first phase will be informed by their respective supervisors ahead of time. In case you have any underlying health conditions that would prevent you from reporting to work, you are kindly requested to inform your direct supervisor to that effect, so that appropriate measures can be taken.

We will be gradually providing you with the relative updates and the necessary guidelines and preventive measures to ensure a safe and smooth return.

Wishing you all continuous safety and looking forward to having you back on Campus.

Tuesday April 21, 2020

Flexible Summer Measures Including Emergency Financial Aid

Dear LAU Students:

We know it has been a very difficult and an unusual Spring semester, and with your invaluable input we continue to improve and adjust going forward in this new world of online teaching and learning.

In light of the continued COVID-19 concerns, LAU has taken the below steps for the Summer 2020 semester which we hope will be helpful to you: 

  1. Summer 2020 courses will be online
  2. The option of P/NP grading model will continue
  3. Students receiving financial aid and/or scholarships will continue to receive their funding irrespective of the number of credits registered and without the need of doing their work-aid hours
  4. Students not currently receiving Financial Aid yet facing unforeseen financial difficulties can fill out the Summer Emergency Financial Aid form that will be on their portal as of May 4
  5. Students enrolled in Summer term will continue to be credited a total of $98 for the months of June and July 2020 to help them with their internet charges
  6. Students unable to pay their Summer tuition in full, should contact the Business Office during the “statement of fees” period in order to arrange for deferred payments
  7. Students who still have some outstanding fees from Spring 2020 will be allowed to register for the Summer after making payment arrangements with the Business Office, one week before registration.

Summer term will begin June 15 and conclude July 22, and classes will be 5 days a week. Summer course offerings will be available by the last week of May, and online registration will begin on June 11.

Please see the revised calendar at https://www.lau.edu.lb/calendar/

Good luck with completion of your Spring courses.

Stay safe

Deans of Students

Saturday March 28, 2020

Academic Update

Dear students,

It is becoming evident that the interruptions due to the COVID-19 crisis will continue beyond the end of the Spring 2020 semester. Therefore, as promised in my previous message, I would like to inform you about a number of important academic decisions that the Council of Deans took last Wednesday, March 25 with the approval of President Joseph Jabbra to offer you flexibility, alleviate your anxiety about exams and grades, and most importantly allow you to focus on your learning and well-being.

  1. Flexible Grading System for Undergraduate Courses: Undergraduate students will be able to choose the Pass/No Pass (P/NP) as a grading option, on a course-by-course basis, by the withdrawal date of April 30, 2020. Otherwise, the default letter grading system will be applied. As defined in the University’s undergraduate academic rules and procedures, an NP grade indicates a failing performance, i.e. equivalent to a grade of F, in courses taken on a P/NP basis. No credits will be added to the student’s record, nor will the average be affected. It has no quality points.

    You will soon receive a form to select which course(s) you would like to be graded as P/NP.
  2. Flexible Grading System for Graduate Courses: All students will be able to choose the P/NP grading option for any graduate course taken this semester as well, on a course-by-course basis, by the withdrawal date. Otherwise, the default letter grading system will be applied. The NP grade for graduate courses indicates a failing performance, i.e. equivalent to a grade of C- (C minus) or below.
  3. Scholastic Standing: The final grades of the Spring 2020 semester will not have any impact on students’ scholastic standing. This semester will be treated as a grace semester not impacting suspension, probation, or academic recognition. 
  4. Repeating Courses: The course repeat rules defined in LAU’s undergraduate academic rules and procedures will be suspended for the Spring 2020 semester.
  5. Class Attendance: The student attendance regulations defined in the University’s undergraduate academic rules and procedures will be waived for the Spring 2020 semester.
  6. Lab, Clinical, and Studio Courses: Most of these courses could not be entirely delivered using online methods. Therefore, these courses will resume in an intensive manner once the campuses are accessible. If the semester ends before students are able to complete these courses, an incomplete grade will be given to all students registered in these courses.
  7. Thesis Defense: Graduate students will be allowed to defend their theses virtually, e.g. through WebEx, considering the current lockdown. In addition, the required two-week prior thesis defense announcement will be waived.
  8. Online learning survey: A survey was sent to assess the online learning experience in each of your courses. We appreciate your complete and objective responses to the surveys to help us improve your learning experience. 
  9. Revised Spring 2020 Academic Calendar:  The academic calendar for Spring 2020 has been modified as follows:
    Thursday, April 16 Deadline for Incomplete grades (from fall 2019)
    Thursday, April 30 Last day for withdrawal from courses for spring 2020 (WP/WF)
    Last day for selection of the P/ NP grading option on a course-by-course basis
    Friday, May 15 Spring 2020 classes end
    Monday, May 18-Saturday, May 30 Spring 2020 final assessment period (Eid El Fitr expected to be May 25-26)

To allow for more flexibility, faculty instructors will consider using different modalities/tools for final course assessment other than the typical final examinations.  If online final exams are to be given, they must be administered during the final assessment period set in the academic calendar.

Finally, a new webpage under the Provost’s Office website, Student Tips for Academic Success during the COVID-19 Crisis, has been put together to help you improve your online learning experience and guide you to available resources to learn while at home. Again, we sincerely understand how disruptive and frustrating all of this has been for you. We never expected that the academic year would have unfolded as such, and the transition to remote learning delivery has forced us all to adapt to a new challenging and unpredictable situation. Nevertheless, we are very proud of your efforts and determination. Together, with your patience and continuous cooperation, we will be able to navigate successfully through this crisis.

Stay healthy and stay strong!  Your LAU community is here for you.

Sincerely,
George Nasr

 

*An FAQ section was developed, specifically addressing your questions in relation to the P/NP grading and other academic measures taken in Spring 2020. 

Wednesday March 25, 2020

Class Schedule and Exams During COVID-19 Crisis

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are all staying healthy in the global Corona pandemic, that has radically affected our lives and the lives of our students. It has exposed the discrepancies between various constituents: faculty, staff and students and their ability to cope with this grave crisis. While some of us, in the population at large, may be able to continue operating at a distance, others have seen their livelihood completely shattered.

It is in this context, I invite you all to show additional empathy, to respond to some of our students’ concerns and problems, while at the same time making every effort to keep our Mission of quality education alive. 

Few points I would like to share with you:

Please stay safe and healthy! Together we will uphold the Mission and the Values of LAU and we will come out of this crisis stronger than ever before.

Sincerely,

George Nasr

Provost

Monday March 16, 2020

A Message from LAU Provost George Nasr

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to start by expressing my sincere gratitude to the enormous efforts you are exerting toward converting your courses into online delivery during the current crisis. LAU is once again standing out from the crowd due to your dedication. You are impressive!

Nevertheless, these efforts will have to intensify as the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic continues to escalate in Lebanon and a prolonged shutdown is anticipated. We will have to continue transitioning most of the remaining courses into online delivery:

In support of your efforts, those of you who have a limited internet connection at home may purchase extra bandwidth and submit the receipts for a possible reimbursement of up to 75,000 LL per month. However, LAU cannot offer this to all our students; therefore, it is important that you record your lectures (preferably using Panopto) and upload downloadable material whenever possible. When it is necessary, schedule your live sessions during the regular class time.

Following President Jabbra’s message that LAU switches into a strictly-essential-services-only mode starting Saturday, March 14, 2020, you will be able to access campus if necessary. Furthermore, all the CIL, IT, and other required staff members will continue to be available on campus to support delivering online learning.  All 4 CIL studios will remain open during normal operation hours. Kindly contact cil@lau.edu.lb if you need to reserve them.

Furthermore, the CIL has formed a Distant Learning Support Unit composed of our CIL Faculty Fellows to promote better online delivery practices and support you individually while transitioning your courses into online delivery. The CIL is organizing numerous webinars and remote support sessions that will continue throughout the crisis.

Finally, considering faculty travel during the current coronavirus threat, the University has decided that all business travel will be suspended until further notice. Faculty personal travel should be limited to emergency situations and will require pre-clearance and approval of the school dean.

I wish you safety and well-being!


Sincerely,

George E. Nasr, Ph.D.
Provost   

Friday March 13, 2020

LAU Switches into a Strictly Essential Services-Only Mode

Dear members of our LAU family,

No priority for LAU matches our commitment to the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. You are the heart and mind of LAU and your welfare is of paramount importance before any other consideration.

As the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic continues to escalate in Lebanon, the university will move into the appropriate response stage by switching as of the morning of Saturday March 14 into a strictly essential services-only mode and implementing ‘social distancing’ to safeguard further the safety of our LAU family and community.

Essential Services Only

LAU will operate absolutely essential services only, ensuring the continuity of necessary and indispensable services. All divisions and departments will achieve operational continuity by maintaining a minimal number of staff on campus. The rest will be teleworking from home. All department heads and supervisors have been briefed and have been establishing these continuity arrangements. We expect the majority of our staff to work from home and be always reachable online and/or by phone.

It is critical that our community continues to maximize preventive measures during this phase. Please avoid social interactions so that we perform our part in slowing down the spread of the disease for the greater good of our country and the well-being of our loved ones.

Academic Update on Online Courses

On the academic side, LAU continues to prioritize the transition of academic programs to online platforms. Our academic division has already made considerable strides in moving courses online, and have finalized most, if not all, transitions of courses which can be delivered online. Additional messages from our Provost or our academic Deans will be forthcoming as needed.

Business Travel Update

All business travel has been discontinued until further notice. Personal travel requires pre-clearance and approval with the relevant Dean or VP.

Access to Campuses

During the strictly-essential-services-only operations period, and for its duration, the campuses will be accessible to faculty, post-docs, individual students for cause, and staff on duty.

LAU Medical Center – Rizk Hospital Update

Given the severity of the epidemic, LAU Medical Center – Rizk Hospital continues to be fully functional and mobilized. Its COVID-19 testing will begin imminently. A separate ward has been completely sealed off with negative pressure from the rest of the hospital for that purpose.

The strictly-essential-services-only operation will begin on Saturday, March 14, and will continue until further notice with updates as they become necessary through email and through the COVID-19 microsite.

Please do all you can to stay safe and ensure the safety of your loved ones. LAU is there for each and every one of you and so much looks forward to seeing its family united again on both campuses at the nearest possible date.

Thank you,

Joseph G. Jabbra
LAU President

Saturday March 7, 2020

Message from President Jabbra to the LAU Family

Dear Members of the LAU family,

I am writing to inform you that a meeting that was to be held early this evening between the Minister of Education and Higher Education, His Excellency Dr Tareq Majzoub, and the Presidents of the three sister institutions, (AUB, USJ, and LAU), was called off because of the Minister’s engagement in an urgent and important Cabinet meeting that is still running.

Therefore, in coordination with our sister institutions (AUB and Saint Joseph), I am, on behalf of the University, announcing that LAU will continue to suspend classes and postpone formal in-class exams during the coming week ending March 15 in view of the mounting concern with the Coronavirus and the need to take all precautionary measures possible .

As such, LAU will be closed insofar as classroom teaching is concerned during said period with the Library and Gym continuing to be off limits to students as well. We will however do all we can to keep as many courses as possible active online and to provide access to course materials through our various online platforms.

The office of the provost is the key point of contact in this regard together with School Deans and Deans of Students who will be communicating with students as needed.

The University will, of course, remain open to faculty, staff and individual students as was the case last week.

LAU as you well know is deeply committed to the safety of all members of its family and will always do its utmost to ensure this safety. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and get back to you again if and when needed.

Please be safe and exercise extreme caution in every way possible.

 

Joseph G. Jabbra, Ph.D.

President

Saturday February 29, 2020

Internal Communications

Dear all,

Following consultations with our experts in infectious diseases at our Gilbert and Rose-Marie School of Medicine and LAU Medical Center – Rizk Hospital, LAU will be open as planned Saturday February 29, for make-up classes and exams, as previously scheduled.

We continue to ask all – students, faculty and staff – to act responsibly in terms of taking preventive measures, namely to abstain coming to campus in case of recent travel to endemic countries or having any flu-like symptoms.

You will be updated of any changes to university operations in due course promptly.

Thursday February 27, 2020

Q&A on Coronavirus with Dr. Jacques Mokhbat

FAQs (Symptoms, Prevention, Facts)

Q&A on Coronavirus with Dr. Jacques Mokhbat, Chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the LAU Gilbert and Rose-Marie Chagoury School of Medicine, and Vice Chair of the National Committee of Infectious Diseases

What is the mortality rate of Coronavirus and how does it compare with that of similar diseases?

The mortality rate up until now and according to recent data is 3.1 percent, but it really depends on the age group. In age groups below 50-60 it stands at less than 0.1 percent, rising dramatically above the age of 60 and more so above the age of 70. SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in China and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in Saudi Arabia – in 2002 and 2012 respectively – were associated with much higher rates of mortality, at 15-30 percent.

Is there a reason to panic? If yes, when?

So far, I don’t think there is any reason to panic. People are naturally anxious because it is a new virus and they are not fully aware of the risks and mode of transmission etc. Thanks to what has been done in China, we are more informed about how the virus is transmitted, the risks, and the precautions we must take.

The epidemic has started to level off in China and should be declining soon. If other countries fully observe safe hygiene and protocols, as has been done in China, then we should be able to stop the virus from spreading.

Should one go to the doctor as soon as one starts coughing?

It is preferable. This is the season of upper respiratory viral infections, the common cold, influenza, and now the Novel Coronavirus, which manifests itself in classical influenza symptoms.

If someone is coughing and has a fever they can get a simple symptomatic treatment at home. But if the cough and fever persist, especially if accompanied with shortness of breath and chest discomfort or pain, then they should seek medical help.

Should an infected patient take any over-the-counter medications? In particular, should people take an antibiotic at the first symptoms?

Absolutely not. Viral infections should not be treated with antibiotics. The only thing recommended, as with influenza, is good hydration and medication to lower the temperature.

Who is the affected population?

Anyone can be affected by Novel Corona. However, the hardest hit tend to be in the advanced age group – with an average age of 40 – while children are the least affected. If children get the disease, they are asymptomatic.

The persons at most risk are healthcare personnel since they are always exposed to viruses.

If someone gets the virus, what should they expect?

They should expect a fever, dry cough, muscle aches and pain, just like with influenza. If the coughing becomes productive (with sputum or phlegm), shortness or difficulty breathing, the person should seek medical advice to rule out pneumonia. Rare symptoms can include diarrhea. The disease seems to linger longer than classical influenza typical manifestations.

How can we prevent or contain the spread of coronavirus at our workplace (LAU)?