Following a Thursday morning online chapel service, Lee University President Paul Conn notified students that the school’s campus will not reopen for the remainder of the semester.
“I am sorry to announce we are not going to be able come back on April 13, as we hoped might be possible. So until the end of the semester, we will stay in the mode we are in now.” said Dr. Conn. "We need you to stay home, stay healthy, and stay connected with us through social media."
Dr. Conn told students and their parents it is in the interest of their safety and health, their families, and others in the Lee community, to make this decision. "Restarting campus activities and bringing students back to campus in mid-April is just too early. We're eager to see you again, but sadly, it won't be this semester."
The university will continue to hold virtual classes, chapel services, Q & A panels, and other events through the video-conferencing platform, “Zoom.” Faculty are currently lecturing from home or from empty offices and classrooms, in what Dr. Conn called "real time,” to nearly 4,000 students, scattered throughout the country.
It was the Lee president's fifth video message in the past two weeks to Lee students, who left campus on March 6 for spring break and have not returned. He repeated his familiar message to students to “stay in touch, stay healthy, stay flexible, and stay optimistic.”
Dr. Conn addressed other aspects of Lee life, such as May Commencement and summer classes. “We will have a spring commencement and summer classes, without a doubt, but whether those activities will be in person or on the web, and what the schedule will look like, remains to be seen as we continue to consult with government, public health, and higher education authorities.”
"Virtual Lee Day," an opportunity for prospective students and their families to find out more about Lee, has been cancelled as an on-campus event and will now take place via the web on April 17-18. All other campus events have been cancelled until at least May.
Lee has closed all its dining venues, providing food only on a take-away basis from its main dining room. Campus facilities such as the library, recreation center, childcare center, and academic buildings have been closed except for essential services by the staff and faculty who remain. Professors and staff have been encouraged to work from home, and the school's technology staff is scrambling to set up equipment at the homes of employees who need it.
Dr. Conn also announced that Lee's 73 senior nursing majors, who had been serving in clinical rotations in area hospitals, have been recalled from that service to return home. "We're proud of these students who have been part of healthcare teams in hospitals in our region, but we felt it is time to get them back home with their families."
Lee has called on alums in the local area to help provide canned goods and other items to help restock its Food Bank on Parker Street, which serves off-campus students who need help, as well as residents of the East Cleveland area.
Lee University’s social media channels and homepage www.leeuniversity.edu remain the best source of information about scheduling, updates, and the impact of the coronavirus on Lee’s campus.