Lyon announces 2020 fall semester will continue to be remote; fall sports moving to spring

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Lyon College will continue remote instruction for the fall 2020 semester, according to an announcement this morning from Joey King, the president of the college.

Classes will still begin on Aug. 18, but the semester has been shortened to end before Thanksgiving Break.

The spring semester will begin Feb. 2. The calendar now includes a 19-day January 2021 term to allot for student travel (regulations permitting), research, internships, and limited online instruction.

Since July 13, all campus community members have been required to wear masks inside any campus building and must follow the COVID-19 policies and procedures in place. Effective July 20, an executive order was issued by Gov. Asa Hutchinson requires every person in Arkansas to wear a face covering.

At this time, the school is asking the campus community to follow these action items:

  • Wear the mask. As members of the culture of honor at Lyon College, we each have an ethical duty to others to do all we can to limit the spread of COVID-19.
  • Know the symptoms. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Symptoms include a fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.
  • Take precautions. The CDC recommends the following preventive actions: wash your hands frequently; avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth; use a kleenex or cough into your elbow, avoid close contact with people who are sick; and stay home when you are sick.
  • Communicate. If anyone is exhibiting any of the above symptoms and have traveled to an area with known positive COVID-19 cases or have been in contact with someone positive or suspected to have the virus, please contact the Office of Health and Wellness at health@lyon.edu or (870) 307-7425.

President King sent the following message to students, faculty, and staff on Friday morning:

Dear Lyon Community,

With a heavy heart, I am reaching out to inform you that on Thursday, the Board of Trustees determined remote instruction for the fall would be in the best interest of the College. As many of you know, administrators and I have been working for months to secure a safe and healthy learning environment for students, faculty, and staff. Nevertheless, with the steady increase of COVID-19 cases not only across the nation but also in Arkansas, we are not comfortable with bringing back our community to such an environment.

This difficult decision was not made lightly. In March, when we transitioned to remote learning, my colleagues and I were confident that the spread of COVID-19 would have subsided by the fall and that we would return to campus under a new normal. No more than a month ago, we still believed this as we developed safety policies for campus.

However, recent discussions with health officials at both White River Medical Center and UAMS North Central highlighted the challenges in bringing students back safely. In addition, the development of protective plans, involving many entities at the state and federal levels, was much more involved and took longer than expected. As cases increased across the state, we knew what choice we had to make.

I know this announcement is sudden, and I sincerely apologize for the impact this makes on your plans to return this fall, but please know we wanted to make this call now, rather than mid-semester, so we could avoid incredible disruption to our community. While we understand the emotional and financial repercussions of this decision, we must put our students and community members’ safety first. Students are the heart of our mission, and we must protect them and our commitment to them.

We will use the next few weeks before the semester begins to prepare for full remote instruction. This summer, the faculty participated in further training for these very circumstances and had already been advised to offer hybrid learning options, so I am confident in their ability to pivot to remote learning.

Meanwhile, our IT department adopted new desktop, classroom, and server support services from our technology and network services provider, Apogee. These new services enable us to engage students in the remote classroom as we would through in-person courses. Our faculty are now empowered to continue their commitment to individualized education and providing mentorships to our students, which are all integral parts of the Lyon College mission.

Like last semester, students with a compelling need may request to remain on campus by completing the residence request form. We will also make on-campus arrangements for international students. Student Life will send out the request for residence form with further instructions.

As for athletics, we are in constant communication with the NAIA and the American Midwest Conference. While we will not have athletic competition until after December 31, 2020, we are looking into fall and winter athletic opportunities in the spring. As soon as we have more information, we will share this with you.

We know many of our community members and their families have been impacted by the pandemic, and in recognition of that fact, we issued room and board refunds in the spring, and we disbursed CARES funds as soon as possible this summer. For this semester, we are issuing a grant to all students’ accounts to acknowledge their resilience. The Perseverance Grant will reduce each student’s remaining balance for fall tuition by 15 percent, and we will continue the grant into the spring semester with a 7.5% reduction to students’ remaining spring balance. Students will also not be charged room and board unless they apply and are eligible to stay on campus. Though the academic experience will be different this fall, the College’s trademark features of extraordinary teaching with high expectations for student performance will remain unchanged.

As we have seen the past few months, the pandemic’s effects are always evolving. We will follow the situation in the state and monitor the availability of testing and a vaccine, so that if we are able to safely return to campus, we will seize the opportunity.

Students, I understand this decision is significantly difficult for you. The College will continue to remotely offer student services to support you, including counseling, health and wellness, and academic support, among others. Please check your email in the coming weeks for more information from Student Life and the Provost’s Office. I speak for the whole campus when I say we are devastated that we will not see you this semester, but this decision is best for now.

Faculty, Provost Melissa Taverner will be in contact with you regarding how to finalize your remote instruction plans. I have the utmost faith in your ability to adapt during this time. As always, you have my support and sincerest gratitude for your dedication to this institution.

Staff, if you have any human resources concerns or questions, please contact Joseph Botana for further guidance. I want to thank you for your determination during this uncertain time, and I deeply appreciate your willingness to adapt and your commitment to our students.

I am sure you have questions. Please visit the FAQ page, where we have added more information about the fall. It will also be available under additional resources on the College’s COVID-19 page. Please continue to visit lyon.edu/coronavirus for updates.

We remain steadfast in the Lyon College mission of providing a well-rounded education that prepares graduates both to succeed in their careers and to contribute to society as productive citizens. Remember, perseverance conquers all, God willing. We miss you already.

Sincerely,

Joey King

white river now with all logo 2020 (JULY)

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