Fall 2020 Guidance
In response to COVID-19, university courses and operations remain predominantly online for fall.

Fall 2020 Plan for Students

We thank you and your families for your patience as we worked through the evolving details of our Fall 2020 plan for Lesley students. Here, you'll find information regarding our operations for the fall semester, which we will update regularly as we monitor the conditions surrounding the global coronavirus pandemic.


Contact Dean Nathaniel Mays at nmays@lesley.edu with any questions you may have.

General Plan

We've outlined our overarching plan and decision process here, and within emails that we sent to all current and prospective Lesley students on July 15, 2020, and on August 4, 2020.

We will provide additional details as they pertain to individual academic programs and activities as they unfold.

  • Our Decision Process

    A Plan Based on Expert Guidance That Considers Our Urban Campus

    In charting the course that we believe is the most appropriate one for Lesley University, we have consulted medical and public health experts and surveyed stakeholders across our diverse community on how the global COVID-19 pandemic is likely to impact us all in the coming months.

    We have listened closely to your voices and to those of our faculty and staff, and we have assessed the facts on the ground that are unique to our setting. As an urban university in a region that was one of the pandemic’s early hot spots, our decision to employ a hybrid and mostly virtual model for the fall reflects the sober, and perhaps likely, reality that the Boston metro area could experience another surge before winter.

    Lesley’s three campuses cannot be walled off, nor can our residential facilities be reconfigured to provide single rooms with private baths to protect the health and safety of our community. We do not want to repeat the disruptive experience of last spring where we had to shut down our campus on short notice, so most campus facilities will remain closed at least through the end of 2020.

    Beyond Fall 2020

    Our 2020-21 planning remains fluid and flexible, and our January and spring semester plans may allow for more students to return to campus, if conditions improve substantially. We hope all undergraduate students will be able to spend some time on campus this year but it is too soon to know if that will be possible. We will actively monitor conditions and update you regularly.

    We acknowledge the natural disappointment we all feel that this fall’s back-to-school season necessarily will be different from other years. The start of every academic year is full of promise and high hopes, as we warmly welcome our new community members and excitedly greet the familiar faces of those returning. We remain every bit as excited to welcome you all to our mostly virtual campus. And our hopes remain just as high for all of you, whether your Lesley experience is just beginning or nearly complete.

  • Virtual Academic Experience

    Enhanced Approach to Remote Learning

    As we announced in June, most fall classes will be conducted online. Unlike many schools, Lesley has offered remote learning for decades. This summer, we further refined and improved our virtual academic experience to mirror as much as possible the vibrancy and interpersonal relationship building that characterize the Lesley learning experience.

    We are very excited about our enhanced approach to online learning. Remote instruction provides an unprecedented capacity for students and faculty to collaborate across geographic, cultural, and temporal boundaries, and to prepare for the post-COVID world we will live, work, and play in.

    The Tools You Need to Learn and Grow

    Faculty and staff have worked all summer to make our virtual campus one where each of you will find the tools and support you need to learn and grow, to connect and collaborate with each other, and to thrive as a community of engaged and active global citizens.

    Lesley’s mission is to provide a transformative educational experience in the human arts with real-world applications, and the coming year offers us all a unique opportunity to be on the leading edge of transformation from both a personal and institutional standpoint. How we rise to meet the challenges and build relationships to help each other grow and succeed will define us.

    Virtual Academic Experience Task Force

    The Virtual Academic Experience Task Force comprised of faculty, e-learning specialists, and Information Technology staff worked diligently to develop an innovative framework and consistent standards and applications to ensure that we deliver high-quality virtual instruction across all departments.

    Your learning experience is paramount, and we are tailoring our online teaching and curriculum to meet individual needs including tools to help students and professors identify where additional support on a particular concept may be needed.

    As much as possible, virtual classes will be designed to incorporate the dynamic intellectual experience that takes place in our physical classrooms and to help students build relationships in and out of the classroom. We will offer virtual office hours and advising, as well as opportunities for small-group discussions and peer study meetings.

    Courses That Require Face-to-Face Activities

    Faculty have identified a few courses that require some physical face-to-face activities and/or access to campus facilities, and we are working with them to safely accommodate those needs. Any courses that include a physical component are being designed to meet all the most current recommendations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Virtual Campus Experience

    Virtual Community Engagement Task Force

    Recognizing that so much of what defines the Lesley experience takes place outside of the classroom, we created a Virtual Community Engagement Task Force that is planning a variety of extra-curricular programs, speaker events, and social activities to complement your coursework and help you engage with each other and the wider world.

    We will share more information on the specifics soon, but topics may include explorations of the trauma caused by, and surrounding, the pandemic, voter education, civic engagement, and an all-community book read.

  • Academic Calendar

    Fall Academic Calendar

    The first day of classes for the 15-week semester is Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. However, Fall Term I courses start Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020 and Fall Term II starts Monday, Nov. 2, 2020.

    All campus facilities will be closed from November 20, 2020 through January 1, 2021.

    Fall exams will be taken online and the semester will end on Tuesday, December 22, 2020.

  • Internships and Field Experiences

    Internships and field experiences are components of most Lesley programs, and we are committed to the academic progression of our students while also protecting the health and safety of our community. Due to the pandemic, many internship sites are offering remote internships or in-person/hybrid internships.

    Field Experience and Internship Offices Provide Guidance

    Your field experience/internship office continues to be the point of contact regarding guidelines for Fall 2020 internships specific to a field of study or program (including licensure requirements, if applicable).

    Our guidance continues to be that students delay internships (if possible, within their degree and licensure plan) ​or seek one offering a fully virtual experience. We will not require any student to complete an in-person or hybrid experience.

    Field experience/internship offices will send specific guidelines for any level of in-person experiential learning to students directly. Also, internship sites will have their own expectations and required agreements before allowing students to do in-person internships.

    Review the detailed internship and field experience guidance for each academic program area.

  • Technology Access & Arts Materials Kits


    We want to make sure that all students have the appropriate hardware, software, and Internet access to complete remote coursework successfully and to participate fully in this fall’s virtual campus activities. 

    We will provide you with the specialized software required to support your work in the courses you have selected this fall. Based on a student survey last spring, we are developing technology solutions to support your online learning and will contact students who have identified those needs.

    Arts Materials

    For students in certain art and design courses, we will provide kits with the hands-on materials and supplies they need. In addition, we are working with our librarians to offer virtual research assistance and curbside pickup of some materials.

    If You Anticipate Needing Support

    If you anticipate needing support and did not respond to the outreach in the spring, contact Dean Nathaniel Mays at nmays@lesley.edu by August 10, 2020.

  • Directory of Services

    As always, Lesley will remain an active partner in your education every step of the way. To make it easy to find the staff contacts and information resources you may need to answer questions and to support your individual needs, we have developed an interactive Directory of Services.

    We will share the link to the directory as soon as it is posted and believe this will help students to connect much more quickly and efficiently to university resources in the fall and beyond.

  • Orientations, Convocation, and Welcome Week Events

    Undergraduate Orientations

    If you are new to the Lesley community, you should have received an invitation and attended one of the virtual Orientation events that took place on July 13-17 and July 20-24,2020.

    Convocation and Welcome Week

    We will also hold Convocation and Welcome Week events online.

  • Students Approved to Be on Campus for Fall Semester

    Who's Approved

    The number of students who may return to campus in the fall will be limited to those whose work is dependent upon resources that the campus offers that are not accessible remotely, or whose remote access impacts the integrity of the work that they need to complete.

    Although our campuses will remain largely closed, some students will be granted access only to those parts of the campus related to the work that they need to accomplish. These include some art students who need to use studio space, students in our Threshold Program, fall student-athletes, as well as students needing housing as a result of housing insecurities, or those with special academic or technology needs.

    Of course, students may choose not to participate in select on-campus activities this fall. No one will be required to come to campus. It is entirely the choice of students and their families, and these plans are subject to change if state and local officials recommend or impose new public health restrictions.

    The Process

    Students who are approved to be on campus for the fall semester will be in contact directly with their school Dean’s Office or program leader.

    1. If you are eligible for campus access, please respond directly to your dean or program leader by August 10, 2020.
    2. Indicate to your dean or program leader whether you are interested in the limited campus access available to your cohort and whether you would want a hotel room for all or some portion of the semester.
    3. Based on your responses, we will finalize the planning and let each cohort know, by August 15, 2020, how their program would operate. 
    4. We would need to know your decision, by August 20, 2020, on whether you will participate in your group’s campus-access program. All of these plans will be based on the level of interest among the eligible students and are subject to change depending on evolving public health conditions and government restrictions.

    Students Experiencing Housing Insecurities or Special Circumstances

    If you are an undergraduate and are experiencing housing insecurity or have other special circumstances that may require limited access to campus facilities or hotel housing this fall, please contact Dean Nathaniel Mays at nmays@lesley.edu no later than August 10, 2020.

    Because the campus remains closed, and because we are concerned with limiting the possibility of exposure of those using campus resources, students approved for access to emergency housing will be expected to comply with all safety protocols, including not having guests on campus or in the hotel and no off-campus work.

    Hotel Housing

    Lesley residence halls will not be open during the fall. We contracted with local hotels and negotiated reduced rates for single rooms with private bathrooms, to accommodate housing for students approved to be on campus this fall.

    The hotel option provides students with single rooms and single bathrooms, which we could not provide on campus. The hotels allow us the flexibility to accommodate different student needs for partial or full-term stays.

    The rate would include weekly cleaning. Students would be able to reserve a room for all or a portion of the fall semester. The options would differ slightly for each group (Threshold, College of Art & Design, or student-athletes), and each cohort would be assigned to live in the same hotel.

    Meal Plans & Discounts

    We have developed meal plans for students with campus access this fall.  We aimed to offer a rate close to what students would pay per day for room and board to live in a single room on campus.

    To provide maximum flexibility, students would make arrangements for rooms and dining directly with the hotel, based on our letting the hotels know they are eligible to return to campus.

    Learn more about meals and discounts at local restaurants.

    Housing Lottery/Spring Housing

    For those students who participated in the Housing Lottery, but will not be on campus for the fall, your housing assignments remain in place for the spring semester. We will communicate about spring housing as the impact of COVID-19 on our plans for the spring become clearer.

  • Health and Safety Protocols

    To do our part in reducing the spread of COVID-19, Lesley will continue to strictly limit the number of students and employees on campus for the foreseeable future.

    Return to Campus Protocol and Agreement

    All students with campus access will be required to sign a "Return to Campus Protocol and Agreement" with health and safety requirements including:

    • Participating in Lesley's COVID-19 testing program (and agreeing to isolate or quarantine, if positive or exposed to the virus by a close contact)
    • Daily self-screening for symptoms using the CoVerified app or web-based platform
    • Being up-to-date on all required immunizations
    • Getting a flu shot when available this fall
    • Wearing a mask or face-covering in public or in the presence of others
    • Practicing good hand hygiene
    • Social distancing (six feet) at all times, except when alone.

    Massachusetts Public Health Requirements Regarding Quarantining

    Some students returning to campus may be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival based on the latest Massachusetts Public Health Requirements. Specifically, Governor Baker’s recent travel order states that starting August 1, 2020 anyone over age 18 coming to Massachusetts from most other states will be required to quarantine for 14 days unless they tested negative for the virus up to 72 hours prior to their arrival.

    As of now, students arriving from these lower-risk states are exempt:

    • Connecticut
    • Hawaii
    • Maine
    • New Hampshire
    • New Jersey
    • New York
    • Vermont

    The Massachusetts Travel Form

    Unless a student is coming from one of the exempted low-risk states, students will be required to complete the Massachusetts Travel Form when they arrive, providing a copy to Lesley's Student Health Service, and to quarantine for two weeks unless they can present evidence of a recent negative test result.

    This applies regardless of whether they are arriving by plane, car, train, bus, or another mode. If a student has visited a high-risk state within 14 days of their arrival in Cambridge, they would be required to quarantine. For instance, this would apply if the student lives in Massachusetts or New York (currently considered low-risk states) but visited a friend in Florida (a high-risk state) within two weeks of coming to campus. T

    he risk designations are subject to change, so please check this Mass.gov webpage for the latest information before making any travel plans.

    Please contact the Director of Student Health Service Kerry Folkman (kfolkman@lesley.edu) with questions regarding these health and safety protocols.

    Self-Monitoring & Testing Program

    All members of the campus community will be required to self-monitor for symptoms and to participate in the testing program we will provide through the Broad Institute.

    Students using campus facilities will be tested upon arrival to the Cambridge area and required to quarantine until a negative result is received. Testing will then continue on a weekly basis for the duration of the student’s campus access. Students who will be using campus facilities less than once per week will be required to repeat the test and quarantine protocol prior to each period of campus access.

    A Modular Approach

    Students with limited campus access would be organized by program cohort into independent, self-contained modules. This means that each group will interact only with each other. Our goal is to ensure that each module can operate independently and an outbreak in one module will not be likely to affect another module.

    In the event a Lesley community member with access to campus develops symptoms or tests positive they will be required to isolate for at least 10 days, and individuals who have been exposed will be required to quarantine for two weeks.

    As members of the Lesley community, we have an obligation to respect and protect each other’s health and well-being and must hold each other accountable at all times.

  • Study Abroad

    Study Abroad Canceled in 2020-2021

    Given the pandemic’s global impact and ongoing international travel restrictions, Lesley has made the difficult decision to cancel or postpone all Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 international travel.

    This includes study abroad, exchange programs, and faculty-led programs scheduled through mid-May 2021. Programs planned for next summer will be reviewed in the spring of 2021.

  • Transfer Student Supports

    This fall we are launching a new Transfer Student Success Office that will be embedded with our advising teams in our new Coordinated Student Success area in the Provost’s Office.

    Associate Provost Jennifer Serowick and her team are ready to assist transfer students with everything from transfer credits, questions about student life and academics, understanding financial aid or billing, and finding the supports you need at Lesley.

  • Tuition and Financial Aid

    While we are fortunate to have a strong endowment to help navigate this pandemic, the financial impact on our operating budget is significant and has accelerated our strategic planning to streamline and centralize campus operations to use our resources and facilities more efficiently.

    We have also drawn on our resources to make significant investments in virtual academics and student support and engagement, and toward supporting all our students as we build a more inclusive community.

    We believe these investments will be critical for our students this fall and going forward in a changing academic world. With this in mind, we are also taking steps to reduce the strain on our resources. These actions have included a voluntary separation plan for employees (which has allowed us to avoid the layoffs many other institutions have had to implement), voluntary pay cuts including up to 20% for the senior leadership team, delaying capital projects, and improving operational efficiencies.

    Tuition Grants for Full-Time Undergraduates and Threshold Students

    Recognizing the economic hardship and uncertainty many families are experiencing due to the pandemic, we are also significantly increasing aid to eligible students and will award across the board tuition grants to all full-time traditional undergraduates and Threshold students to offset any increase to tuition for the 2020-21 academic year. These grants will appear as a credit for the fall.

    Graduate Program Tuition

    For most of our graduate programs where delivery modalities have been changed, we are reducing those per-credit rates for the fall semester.

    Fee Changes

    Many fees associated with a physical presence on campus will be eliminated or reduced.

    Federal Work-Study Program

    There has been no guidance yet from the Department of Education regarding the continuation of Work-Study relief from the spring. We may be able to continue to hire Work-Study students to work remotely to the extent possible.

    CARES Act Funds

    We have distributed almost $950,000 to 1,251 eligible students under the CARES Act so far.In addition, we have awarded $1.9 million in need-based aid in addition to merit awards. We have raised about $175,000 in funds from our community to further assist students who may not have been eligible for CARES Act funds and we are currently reviewing requests for unmet needs. 

  • Anti-Racism and Inclusion

    The recent tragic events and protests have underscored the importance and urgency of strengthening Lesley’s longstanding commitment to social justice. The disproportionate human and economic toll of the pandemic are directly linked to centuries of systemic racial injustice that we must finally confront and combat as individuals and as a community of learners.

    We will update the community on our progress with this work toward redoubling our commitment as a community to address systemic racism with systemic, university-wide solutions.  

  • Community Standards of Conduct

    During a global pandemic whose trajectory is uncertain, even limited use of campus facilities carries some risks that each individual must weigh carefully.

    Lesley students who have been accorded the privilege of campus access are responsible for protecting each other’s health and well-being and must hold each other accountable. 

    The Community Standards of Conduct will apply to students regardless of whether they are living at home, off-campus, or in a local hotel room.

School, Program, and Activity-Specific Plans

Find details for Fall 2020 plans for your specific school or program within Lesley University, as well as answers to frequently asked questions as they become available.

  • Athletics

    Fall Athletics

    Lesley Athletics will not participate in varsity competition this fall due to the ongoing health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 15, 2020, the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC), Lesley’s Division III NCAA athletic conference, announced its decision to suspend all athletic competition during the fall 2020 season.

    The NECC’s decision aligns with the direction that many other schools and conferences are following across NCAA Divisions. All enrolled fall student-athletes, however, will be invited to return to our campus for the fall semester to train with their respective teams/coaches. Our current plan is to offer fall sports competitions during the spring semester, including conference regular season play and championship opportunities. In developing plans for athletics this spring, Lesley and the other NECC schools will continue to closely monitor health and safety conditions.

    The NECC's decision to suspend fall competition also affects the start of practice and play for winter sports including men’s and women’s basketball. The NCAA is discussing how to adjust schedules and national tournaments to reflect the new reality of conferences suspending fall semester play. We will share more information as soon as it becomes available.

    Lesley's Fall Plan for Student-Athletes

    Learn more about our plan for Fall Student-Athletes.


  • College of Art & Design

    The College of Art & Design faculty members have redesigned the entire curriculum to be delivered remotely and to ensure that students will have a rigorous and engaging learning experience. All courses can be successfully completed remotely without access to Lunder Arts Center facilities, and no student will be required to work on-site.

    All freshman courses will be online only. We are preparing art materials lists customized per department. The department chairs will be reaching out to students to provide these lists.

    Students registered in a few courses that rely on specialized equipment or labs will have the option of limited access to specific facilities in Lunder Arts Center.

    Get Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

    Learn more about the College of Art & Design plan.



  • Threshold Program

    Threshold program Director Ernst Vanbergeijk recently emailed a detailed FAQ about the program’s fall plan, including the option of supervised living in a hotel within walking distance of campus.

    Threshold students are not required to live in the hotel and may choose to take their classes remotely from home.

    Students should email Professor VanBergeijk (evanberg@lesley.edu) by August 10, 2020 to let him know whether they are interested in returning for the limited on-campus program.

    Learn more about the Threshold Program's Fall Plan here.