Updates & Announcements
Saturday March 28, 2020
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Repeating Courses: The course repeat rules defined in LAU’s undergraduate academic rules and procedures will be suspended for the Spring 2020 semester.
- Class Attendance: The student attendance regulations defined in the University’s undergraduate academic rules and procedures will be waived for the Spring 2020 semester.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
*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
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:
- Try as much as possible to keep regular contact with students by scheduling regular live office hours via Webex or any other platform.
- For lecture courses, it is apparent that Asynchronous means [pre-recorded lectures using Panotpto or others] are a better for students to follow the course than synchronous methods (Live streamed classes using WebEx or others). Follow up live sessions and/or live office hours should be regularly scheduled.
- There are numerous advantages to recorded lectures such as record/view at convenient times, works well with slow internet connection, and could be reused in the future.
- For courses that are delivered in synchronous means (live streamed) please keep the same schedule as in-class, and do not go live at other times that may conflict with other courses.
- Do not ‘dump’ readings on students, and expect them to do it all on their own.
- Schedule your exams during class time or later in the evening after making sure that all students does not have any time conflict
- Exams should be reconfigured to respond to this situation. Any changes from the normative process must be cleared with the department chair. An online exam guideline is being prepared and shall be shared with you, however it is important to keep in mind that in these situations substituting exams with interactive and take-home work is more robust.
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.
Monday March 16, 2020
A Message from LAU Provost George Nasr
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:
- All lecture type courses should be delivered online
- Clinical, Lab, and Studio courses should have their lecture and discussion components delivered online. Make up sessions for the non-compensated components will be scheduled once the University resumes normal operations.
- Exams need to be reconfigured and rescheduled. You may schedule online exams or preferably adopt instead other approaches to remote assessment. Whenever possible, assign projects, essay type questions, and take-home type exams.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
George E. Nasr, Ph.D.
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.
Joseph G. Jabbra
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.
Saturday February 29, 2020
Following consultations with our experts in infectious diseases at our Gilbert & 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)?
- Be informed
- Be responsible
- Don’t be afraid
- Use proper coughing etiquette, by covering your mouth with your sleeve or tissue. Dispose of the tissue after each use.
- Wash your hands after you cough or sneeze
- Always wash your hands or use sanitizing hand gel after you shake hands
- Do not place your hands back on your face prior to hand hygiene protocol
- If coughing or sneezing, you should stand two meters away from others
- Clean items with hand gel before you touch them. Wearing masks in the streets or on campus is useless unless you are face-to-face with a patient.