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VIDEO: LSCO President Johnson reminds students of their resiliency

Lamar State College Orange President Thomas Johnson sent students a letter addressing concerns of students:

Dear Gator Family,

We understand that COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to be a major concern for many of you.  Please know my thoughts and prayers are with each of you as we make our way through this difficult and challenging time.  We are continuing to act in order to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and community.

While we are facing these challenging and uncertain times, LSCO remains committed to our students’ success and our mission of transforming lives and communities through academic, professional, and personal excellence. As your president, I want you to be aware of the responsive changes that have been put into place on campus, including:

CDC Guidelines: LSCO continues to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state, and local authorities regarding telecommuting, social distancing, careful hygiene practices, and facility cleaning and maintenance. Although the campus remains operational, faculty and staff are encouraged to work with their supervisors to determine if their responsibilities will allow them to flex and/or telecommute. Custodial staff are regularly disinfecting campus work spaces.

Future Classes: With the continued growing concern over the spread of COVID- 19, we have moved to a flexible learning environment starting on March 30.  We understand a limited number of lab or hands-on courses will still need to be conducted on-campus; however, these courses will not begin until April 13, unless further changes are required.  Our faculty is working diligently to help students complete this semester.  Students will receive specific details via Blackboard about the future mode in which their class will be offered from faculty within the next few days.  Instructors will provide details and work with students to complete the required contact hours for each course.

Online Instructional Methods: Our Distance Learning Department is assisting the faculty to ensure they have the resources to deliver their courses online or in a virtual format. Our faculty are supporting one another through these challenging times, sharing resources, techniques, and software that will ensure our students receive the quality education they expect from our college.  LSCO faculty and staff are committed to assisting students through this transition and have resources available to anyone who is unfamiliar with how to access and navigate online classes.

Student Services: The Department of Student Services is operational and available to assist students throughout the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester and beyond.  Student Services is transitioning to an online or remote format to continue to meet student needs through Advising, Admissions, and Financial Aid. Spring Mini, Summer, and Fall 2020 registration will continue as planned and will begin on April 1.  Students are encouraged to complete class registration online through Banner Self Service in Blackboard.  The Advising Center is available to new and current students. Students can schedule a remote advising session appointment with an Advisor. To schedule an online appointment please contact the Advising Center at advising@lsco.edu or at (409)882-3340. More information on course registration can be found on our Online Registration website page.

Learning Center & Library:  The Learning Center and Library remain available to assist students during this crisis. Students can contact the Learning Center at (409) 882-3373 or http://www.lsco.edu/learningcenter/learningcenter.asp  and the Library at (409) 882-3352 or http://library.lsco.edu/.

Staff & Student Workers:  Campus operations will proceed with the college remaining open. Supervisors are encouraged to allow staff to flex and/or telecommute until further notice if their job duties allow. Student workers should also follow guidance from their supervisors.  Human Resources has created a Flexible Work Arrangement form that needs to be completed prior to allowing staff to telecommute.

Travel: All non-essential college-sponsored travel has been cancelled through May 31. Travel after May 31 will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. All domestic travel prior to May 31 deemed essential for continuity of business operations must be approved by the Provost/Executive Vice President and the Vice President of Finance and Business Operations.  For personal travel, we urge you to carefully consider intended destinations and check on restrictions or quarantine measures that may be recommended by the CDC.  Guidance regarding travel can be found on the COVID-19 section of our website.

Commencement Ceremony:  In accordance with Governor Abbott’s office and the CDC’s recommendations, LSCO has suspended all events through the end of May. Unfortunately, this includes the commencement ceremony scheduled on May 15. While Commencement is one of the most exciting events of the year, it is in the best interest of our students and their families to postpone this event.  We invite our Spring graduates to participate in the August commencement ceremony. Students scheduled to graduate in May will still have their degrees conferred with May’s date, but the commencement ceremony will be postponed. Following the degree confirmation, diplomas will be mailed to the students. More information about the Commencement Ceremony will be provided at a later date.

Physical and Mental Health: We are always concerned about the physical and mental health and well-being of our community.  Students can locate a list of resources on our website at http://www.lsco.edu/advising/counseling.asp.  The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available for employees and can be contacted at (800) 324-4327.

Your humble servant,

Tom