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March 24, 2020

A Message from Lehman College President Daniel Lemons

Dear Lehman Community Member:

When CUNY began full distance learning on March 19 we knew it would be a challenge for the students without ready access to computers and the internet in their homes. We immediately set out to obtain loaner computers and iPads for students, and internet providers have stepped up to provide access. But, one week into this distance education phase we are still grappling with the challenge of enabling all Lehman students to continue the spring term. We are seeing the consequences of socioeconomic inequity combined with a fast-moving public health crisis.

The rapid acceleration in the number of COVID-19 infections in the New York metro area since March 19 that prompted the latest executive order from the Governor has made it much more difficult to help Lehman students fully enter into distance learning mode. In response the Chancellor just announced that we will have a brief Recalibration Period for Educational Equity, beginning this Friday, March 27. It will last through Wednesday, April 1. Programs and courses that were being taught online before March 12 will proceed, but for everyone else, distance learning will resume next Thursday, April 2.

  • The purpose of the Recalibration is to let everyone catch their breath: the faculty will have some more time to refine their approaches to distance education and add materials to their BlackBoard sites, and students will have some time to catch up.
  • This week we are still finalizing distribution methods for loaner laptops and iPads, and the Recalibration period should allow us to increase the number we are able to get out. We also anticipate that we will soon have more available to meet demand. It's very important that students who have not yet applied fill out the online application now. We have set priorities for distribution, but though we can't yet be sure, we hope we will be able to provide a loaner to many more students needing one.
  • CUNY's Spring Recess will now run from Wednesday, April 8 through Friday, April 10. For faculty, staff and students whose religious observation extends into the week of April 13, as always, you have the right to request a religious exemption to observe the holiday and we will offer maximum flexibility in addressing these requests.
  • The extraordinary circumstances brought on by coronavirus have prompted CUNY to develop a flexible credit/no credit policy. Pending approval by the CUNY Board of Trustees, the policy will go into effect April 1, 2020. If approved, students will have 20 days after they receive their grades to decide if they want to convert the letter grades they earn in their classes to Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) grading. The University will supply students with pertinent information about the impact of CR/NC on their financial aid and academic progress. This is an approach being adopted by many universities.

Understandably, there are many questions about the fate of graduation exercises, and we are discussing this CUNY-wide. I can't say for sure when we will finalize the plan, but I can assure that it will be soon, and students expecting to graduate will have time to make needed adjustments. No matter how graduation happens this spring, the Class of 2020 is going to be special, and unforgettable.

As always, the best source for up-to-date information about Lehman's response to COVID-19 developments is the coronavirus website, which we add to every day. Continue to send questions, comments and suggestions to covid19.taskforce@lehman.cuny.edu.

Take care, and stay safe by keeping your distance.

Daniel Lemons

Previous messages from President Lemons can be found here.