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LSE to go virtual: no in-person exams, no graduation ceremonies – campus to remain open

LSE has announced in a school-wide statement that it will go virtual for the rest of the academic year in an effort to improve social distancing due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The rest of the academic year will take place online starting 23 March. This includes the remaining classes and lectures, as well as replacing in-person exams with other forms of assessment. Academic staff have until 20 April to upload new forms of online assessment.

These measures include rescheduling July graduation ceremonies until a later date. LSE’s renowned event programme, which has already begun to be phased out, will be rescheduled from 23 March onwards.  

Campus will remain open, however. Working from home will be encouraged but not required. The library and other parts of campus will be open to students.

The full email can be read below:

Dear all,

Following recent developments and contingency planning at LSE, I want to update you on the next phase of our School’s action plan in response to COVID-19 (coronavirus). I would like to stress that the measures outlined below are precautionary, based on our commitment to support our community and prepare accordingly.

Next steps at LSE

·         All teaching activity for taught undergraduate and postgraduate students will be delivered online from Monday 23 March or before where possible, for the remainder of the 2019/2020 academic year

Given the decision to extend our policy on authorised absences, and challenges in delivering hybrid models of in-class and digital teaching, all teaching will be delivered online for taught students from 23 March, or before where possible. 

Academic faculty will decide how best to conduct teaching and learning activities, using a range of resources to best support students and help you get the maximum benefit from your studies. Staff have been advised that they can use Week 9 of Lent Term to pilot approaches and I would be grateful if all students could be open to working with colleagues as we enhance online delivery and trial what may be best for different disciplines.

·         All taught undergraduate and taught postgraduate exams and assessments scheduled for the Summer Term and the 2019/2020 In-year Resit and Deferral Period (IRDAP) will be delivered online or by other methods of alternate assessment

LSE has been preparing for a range of scenarios and given the exceptional circumstances we believe the best decision is to move to online assessments now, to give you as much notice as possible. This does mean the type of assessment you sit may change, although the course content and learning outcomes will be the same.

Assessment type will be guided by academic discipline and faculty expertise. Students will be notified as early as possible about what online assessments mean in practice. The terms of any Inclusion Plans that students have in place will be observed and we will provide further guidance in due course.

We are exploring student visa implications as a result of this change and we will update you as soon as we are able.

·         Research activities of PhD students

We are aware that the impact of the current situation on PhD students is wide-ranging. LSE is taking steps to ensure that we support our doctoral students and that we mitigate any adverse effect on your research and wellbeing. We will update you in due course about specific measures.

Regarding travel plans, LSE will continue to follow Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice. We urge you to look at the appropriate guidance and consider your own arrangements in consultation with your supervisors. You can find further information about insurance and advice from Health and Safety here.

·         All public events will be postponed from 23 March until further notice

This is due to the number of events already postponed and our commitment to the safety and wellbeing of our community. Public events can continue up until 23 March since we have had no indication from Public Health England that there is a risk to our community at this time. July 2020 graduation ceremonies will be rescheduled.

·         LSE’s campus and halls of residence are open

Whilst we are changing our mode of teaching and learning and taking measures to be responsive to an evolving situation, LSE’s campus will remain open. We have had no indication from Public Health England that we should close, and buildings, services and facilities will run as usual.

Staff and students can be on campus and our LSE Library and halls of residence are also open to you. We will continue to monitor and comply with advice from Public Health England and take any necessary steps, including possible campus closure, if we are advised to do so in the future.

·         Ongoing guidance and support

The wellbeing of our community is of the utmost importance and any students with concerns can contact LSE’s Student Wellbeing, engage with academic support services, get guidance from the Student Services Advice team and in halls of residence. LSE’s dedicated FAQs are still the best place to keep up to date on our School’s response to coronavirus and they will continue to be updated by 4pm daily with guidance from Public Health England and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. 

Finally, I want to recognise that there are many different views and opinions on campus around our School’s approach to COVID-19, and I appreciate that these decisions may not be in line with some thinking. I assure you that these actions have been taken with consideration of a range of perspectives and with all members of our community in mind. We are stronger when we come together, and I hope we can continue to work in partnership with the same commitment to each other in the weeks ahead. 

My next update, unless the situation changes, will be the afternoon of 17 March.

Thank you.

Minouche Shafik

LSE Director

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