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Fall 2020
Welcome Back Initiative

Fall Update from President Lunsford

Message from Dr. Dale Lunsford, President

Message from Dr. Steven Mason, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

October 2, 2020

University President Dr. Dale Lunsford gives an update to the LETU family about living and learning for the Spring 2021 semester.

August 21, 2020

It is truly joyous to be together on campus again.  As we complete our first week of classes, I wanted to provide our community with a report on our grand return to living and learning together at LeTourneau.

We welcome close to 1,300 students to our residential campus. This includes one of the largest freshmen classes in the history of LeTourneau University. Residence halls are nearly full.  Classrooms and labs are busy once again.  Chapel has resumed online with small group chapel “pods” starting next week.  Our Christ-centered living and learning community, that is so dear to us, has returned.  This is an answer to a summer full of prayer and diligent work by our faculty and staff.   To make it possible to continue in-person learning, we made changes to practically everything.  It has been disorienting but I am so encouraged by the response of students, families and employees. Although not our ideal, we are making the best of the circumstances and, in all things, giving God the glory for His provision.

As most of you know, all traditional program students were tested for COVID-19 as they returned to campus. I thank the Lord that less than 2% of our student body tested positive. The majority of these positive cases were asymptomatic.  Proper protocol was implemented in all cases to isolate positive cases, cases that were inconclusive and those possibly exposed.  Between August 4 and August 18, 1,271 were tested with 20 positive results.  As of August 20, only 44 students are in isolation, 13 on campus and 31 off campus.  The number in isolation has declined significantly from numbers earlier in the week.  Initial testing identified four employees who tested positive for the virus with a total of seven in isolation as of August 20.  Students in isolation have been able to start their coursework remotely and employees in most cases are able to continue their work while in isolation. 

It is no surprise that COVID-19 is present on campus.  Encouraging is that our initial testing demonstrates the infection rate in our community is low.  And we continue to effectively implement an isolation protocol to discourage spread.  Now, our challenge will be to stay diligent in guarding our health.  I ask you to PLEASE keep your masks up, maintain social distance, wash your hands, and stay home or in your residence hall at the first hint you may be ill.  Let’s do all we can to demonstrate our love for others and to make it possible for LeTourneau to complete the entire fall term with in-person education.  It won’t be easy.  Many other universities will teach only online.  Pray for God’s blessing on our ministry and for His protection of our health.  Pray and be intentional every hour of every day this semester to keep our community healthy.

For your continued reference, information about policies, procedures and protocols are outlined on our Welcome Back Initiative webpage. The health, safety and well-being of our campus community and the Longview community remains our priority and we will revise our policies as we learn from implementation and as circumstances may change. 

This is a moment for LeTourneau University to provide leadership and appropriately adapt to meet the challenge of continuing Christ-centered, whole person education despite the pandemic.  I am pleased to say that we are off to a good start for Fall 2020.  To God be the glory.

Dale A. Lunsford, Ph.D.

August 4, 2020

Dear LeTourneau University Faculty and Staff,

We hope that you are doing well and are excited about the start of another academic year. We are happy to present to you the LeTourneau University’s COVID-19 Plan for Reopening Campus: Employee Guide. Much of the information contained in the guide is information that you received by email throughout the last couple of months. The purpose of the guide is to consolidate most of our COVID-19 employee related information in one easy-to-access location. We hope that you will find the guide helpful as we prepare for the start of classes. Keep in mind that this guide is a dynamic document and will be updated and altered on an ongoing basis as necessary. It will be posted on the WBI page and will remain current.

One key addition to the guide that has not been sent to all employees by email is the new COVID-19 Employee and Workplace Process Map. This can be found on page seven of the guide. We trust that both employees and supervisors will find the process map helpful when trying to navigate different COVID-19 related scenarios.

Additionally, we invite all faculty and staff to participate in the on-campus COVID-19 test. This is not required, but we encourage you to take advantage of this. All testing will take place in front of the Belcher Center on the northwest side of the building. The dates and times are as follows:

  • Wednesday, August 5th from 3pm to 5pm
  • Thursday, August 6th from 3pm to 5pm
  • Friday, August 7th from 3pm to 5pm

You do not need to sign-up in advance for the test. Walk-ups are welcome and expected. The testing is only available to LeTourneau faculty and staff. The testing method will be through the nose and use a thin nasal swab to collect the sample. Test results will be made available to Health Services staff within 24 hours of delivery to the lab. You will be notified if your test result is positive.

Spouses and dependents of LeTourneau employees that wish to be tested can find more information about local testing online at https://www.longviewtexas.gov/3993/Coronavirus-COVID-19

Thank you all for your continued work during this time. We look forward to a successful Fall 2020!


Welcome Back Initiative Task Force

July 29, 2020

Dear LeTourneau University Students,

Earlier this summer, Dr. Lunsford announced our intention to return to on-campus teaching, learning, and living for the Fall 2020 semester. In the time that has intervened, our campus has been about the work of making that possible. We have also learned more about COVID-19 and have witnessed its impact in Texas and in the Longview area. We remain firmly committed to on-campus teaching, learning, and living, and know that the health and safety of our campus community provides the foundation on which these things can happen.

Over the past weeks, we have strengthened our resources and protocols to help reduce the spread of the virus and to respond to cases when they arise. We have evaluated spaces on campus and made adjustments to reduce density (and therefore risk) for our students, faculty, and staff. We have narrowed the scope of our on-campus operations to ensure that our primary focus is students. We have expanded our Health Services resources to include COVID-19 testing for students and employees to allow a rapid response to cases on campus. We have worked with community partners to ensure that our campus is aligned with and supporting the goals and needs of the City of Longview and Gregg County.  

Our primary goal in these efforts has been to do all we can to ensure that we can complete a full semester on-ground in Fall 2020. We have heard loud and clear that our students want to be back on campus and our faculty and staff want to join them there. The campus experience in Fall 2020 will certainly be different than it has been any other semester, and we all feel some sadness about that fact. My prayer is that we can also see the opportunity that we all have to make this semester one to remember and to anticipate the ways in which God will meet our needs. This unprecedented and challenging time of uncertainty requires the best efforts of everyone in our community as well as dependence on the Holy Spirit to ensure the safety and transformational experience of all our students.

We want to share with you our Campus Reopening Guide for Students. We know that you have many questions about what Fall 2020 will bring. We hope this guide will serve you as valuable resource. This document may help you with setting your expectations for what your semester will look like, as well as guide you in ways that will help us all as a university community to work together toward a safe and successful semester. We appreciate your prayers and commitment to a spirit of charity and patience with one another as we navigate this challenging season.  

Our desire is that LeTourneau University’s caring and safe community, with faculty and staff that deeply care about their students and with peers that challenge each other to be all Christ is calling them to be, would prove to be a part of the redeeming work of Christ in this season. 

Kristy Morgan, Ph.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs   

July 24, 2020

Dear LeTourneau University faculty and staff,

By now, we were hoping that all of us would be back on campus working together and preparing for the Fall 2020 semester. Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the state and our desire to comply with the Governor’s continued encouragement to work remotely, many employees continue to work from home.

As we prepare for the start of classes on August 17th, we would like to invite all employees to return to working on campus on August 3rd. Supervisors may ask employees that have been successfully working from home to continue to do so with only occasional necessary trips to the workplace. Supervisors are also asked to work with their staff to stagger office hours so that fewer individuals are in the office suites, breakrooms, shared spaces, and common areas at one time. Please continue to adhere to the attached updated COVID-19 Safety Expectations.

To support this transition back to working on campus, two documents are provided and include Classroom and Lab Safety Practices and Expectations and COVID-19 Safety Expectations.

All new students will be required to take a COVID-19 test when they arrive on campus for New Student Orientation from August 10-14th. All returning students will be required to take a COVID-19 test the following week. LeTourneau University, in collaboration with the Longview Fire Department and Gregg County Emergency Operations, will be administering these tests to all new and returning students.

All faculty and staff returning to campus during the week of August 3rd are invited to take a COVID-19 test. This is not required, but we encourage your participation.  LeTourneau University, in collaboration with the Longview Fire Department and Gregg County Emergency Operations, will be administering these tests on campus for free. More information regarding testing dates and times will be emailed to all faculty and staff next week.

Thank you for your continued work during this time. We look forward to a successful Fall 2020!


Welcome Back Initiative Task Force

July 17, 2020

Dear LeTourneau University faculty and staff,

Preparations continue for welcoming back our students this fall for in-person campus living and learning. Paramount to our Welcome Back Initiative is the health, safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. Between now and the start of the fall semester, the campus will receive important information about health and safety protocols and community expectations. Campus partners have worked diligently to ensure alignment of our protocols, procedures and expectations with those issued from the local, state and federal entities.

The linked policy is related to the use of face masks on campus. Please review the details and expectations contained within this document.


The Welcome Back Initiative Task Force

June 24, 2020

Dear LeTourneau University faculty and staff,

We know the last few months have presented unique challenges professionally and personally. Please know, we appreciate your patience, grace, ingenuity and flexibility as our community actively prepares for the return to in-person learning and campus living.

On June 5, 2020, we communicated specific details about our phased reopening of campus for the summer months. Included in that communication were details about faculty and staff returning to campus. The goal is to receive faculty and staff back to campus on Monday, June 29, 2020 in numbers that are consistent with Governor Abbott’s reopening plans for Texas. As of now, the percentage allowable remains at 50 percent. Based on our assessment of the current employees working from campus, which includes essential personnel, approved departments, the opening of Solheim and specific summer events, we believe that our current and increased activity in July already puts us at the 50 percent capacity threshold.

As a result, we are requesting that faculty and staff continue to work from home throughout the month of July. We recognize that additional faculty and staff will need to report to the campus in larger numbers in the coming weeks as the new school year approaches. Each academic and administrative unit continues to evaluate the specific needs of their operation and may result in select campus reporting adjustments. We ask that each employee work with their direct supervisor, academic dean and cabinet officer to consider requests for working from campus in the month of July.

In the coming weeks, we will provide additional details about returning to campus and COVID-19 health and operational guidelines.


The Welcome Back Initiative Task Force

June 12, 2020

Dear LeTourneau University Community-

It is hard to believe it is already mid-June and it has been more than three months since we have been together in person. During this time, we have all learned new ways of communicating and being together while staying apart. Things on campus have slowly begun to return to a new normal with operations beginning to open back up and preparations being made to open completely in the coming months. As we continue to plan and prepare for the return to campus this fall, we want to provide an update to the entire LeTourneau community regarding new student orientation, campus dining and Chapel.

New Student Orientation

Our programming for New Student Orientation will begin on Thursday August 13th. To create space for a smooth and safe check-in process, we are asking students to arrive on the 10th, 11th or 12th at their designated arrival time.

  • Monday August 10:
    • Students with an F-1 Visa participating in International Student Orientation
  • Tuesday August 11:
    • 9:00 AM Students who are a part of the school of Nursing, Business, Theology and Vocation, Psychology and Counseling
    • 12:00 PM Students who are a part of the School of Engineering and Engineering Technology
  • Wednesday August 12:
    • 9:00 AM: Students who are a part of the School of Education, Arts and Sciences (includes students who have not declared a major)
    • 12:00 PM: Students who are a part of the College of Aviation & Aeronautical Science

We will be practicing social distancing during orientation to promote a safe and successful transition for all students. Orientation will happen physically at the Longview campus, and many of the orientation experiences will happen face to face in small groups. Much of our content will be provided to students online either on our learning management system (Canvas) or live stream. We will evaluate the safety and feasibility of large group gatherings in August and may implement a limited number if appropriate. More information for NSO is available at letu.edu/nso.

Campus Housing

We expect Campus Housing to resume operation at normal occupancy levels. We have space reserved in case of illness to be able to isolate those who are suspected to have COVID-19, as well as space reserved for quarantine of those who test positive for COVID-19. The timeline for returning to campus is being lengthened slightly to reduce the number of people trying to move in at the same time. The arrival window for returning students will be Thursday August 13th - Saturday August 15th. We are also asking returning students to arrive in designated shifts to further create space for a safe arrival. Residential students moving into campus housing may choose their own designated arrival shift by filling out an arrival form, which will be made available via email by June 19. The number of students that can choose each shift will be limited, and availability will be determined on a first come, first serve basis. Commuter students do not need to select an arrival shift; however, we ask that commuter students do not enter the residence halls during this move in time in order to preserve the space we are creating for a safe arrival.

Dining Services

Meal plans will begin August 13th and will continue through November 19th, which is the last day of finals for the Fall 2020 semester.

The available meal plans are:

  • Cafe19 - 19 meals per week + $35 Flex for the semester
  • Flex15 - 15 meals per week + $150 Flex for the semester
  • Flex10 - 10 meals per week + $400 Flex for the semester
  • Block100 - 100 meals for semester + $350 Flex for the semester

All new residential students were given the opportunity to select a meal plan when they signed up for housing. If students did not select a meal plan, they will be assigned to the Flex15 meal plan. They may make changes to their meal plan at any time over the summer or during the first two weeks of classes by emailing Ryan Hawkins at ryanhawkins@letu.edu or talking to their Resident Director.

Apartment residents who do not yet have a meal plan selected will default to having no meal plan. Any apartment resident who wishes to add a meal plan may do so by contacting Ryan Hawkins at ryanhawkins@letu.edu.

Due to safety considerations, The Hive will be open for Grab & Go and Coffee service only. The Corner Café will house all other food preparation and service and has added Mobile Order capabilities so that students can order ahead and take their meals to go. The Café will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner Monday through Friday, and brunch and dinner on Saturday and Sunday.

Additional information regarding the changes to dining services is available in a power point located on the Welcome Back Initiative page.


Chapel for Fall 2020 will be in full swing! There will be some modifications in how we meet together, which we will announce later, we are planning a robust program for the ongoing spiritual formation of our campus.

We are excited to announce that our fall theme is RE:Purpose. There is a sense of anticipation and newness as we regather this fall. What a great time to renew our commitment as a Christ-centered university! Almost all our speakers will be our own faculty, staff, and students.

There is much more work to be done as we move towards welcoming everyone back to campus in the fall. We look forward to continuing to provide a world class Christian Polytechnic University education and provide student experiences by taking the necessary precautions to provide a safe environment.

Soon, we will all be back together learning and worshipping as a campus community.

June 5, 2020

Dear LeTourneau University Campus Community, 

In light of Governor Abbott’s recent announcement about Phase III of Open Texas standards (https://open.texas.gov/), we would like to offer some guidance about how the campus will continue to transition in accordance.

Here are some particular updates:

  • On Monday, June 8th, the Solheim athletic facility will be open for use at 50% capacity to students, faculty, staff, and their families.  Keep in mind that Terri Deike and her team will have specific health and safety guidelines for use that cohere with our university expectations and the Open Texas directives for gym and athletic activity.
  • All outdoor intramural and athletic venues will also be open to use by students, faculty, staff, and their families. We ask that participants adhere to the Open Texas safety directives for outdoor sports and activities, and to exert a good-faith effort toward social distancing and sanitation as is reasonably possible.
  • We are fervently preparing for an eventual, full, return to campus for employees, which will likely be permitted later this summer. We are following the Governor’s recommendations, but in compliance we also need to be ready to do so with health and safety measures adequately in place.  We are targeting Monday, June 29th to receive faculty and staff back at the percentage allowable by the Open Texas plan at that date. Until then, we will continue to work under the premise that if employees can work from home they should, and if the Essential Employee list needs to be expanded between now and Monday, June 29th, it can be on a case-by-case basis according to Cabinet-supervisor approval. This will give us time to best prepare the campus for the modifications necessary to meet health and safety standards.

A hearty shout-out goes to all the faculty and staff that are putting so much energy in the reopening effort this summer.  There are too many to name, but you all are going above and beyond to execute the Welcome Back Initiative with thought and care.  We are making great strides, and it has been so encouraging even to receive a cohort of students back to campus this week. We are proud of the ongoing dialogue and teamwork in this huge task!


The Welcome Back Initiative Task Force


May 19, 2020

Dear LeTourneau University Community,

Thank you again for the incredible effort all exerted to make our spring 2020 semester a success, despite the challenges the pandemic placed on us as faculty, staff, and students. Way to go Yellowjackets! More collective strength and wisdom will be required in the coming weeks and months, but I am eager to address them together diligently and prayerfully as we stay focused on our Christ-centered mission.

In light of Dr. Lunsford’s note yesterday, I want to update you on the latest progress of our Fall 2020 Welcome Back Initiative. As you know from previous corre spondence, this is our comprehensive strategy for carefully resuming campus activity in person. The aim of the initiative is,

“...to prepare for a grand return to the practices of university and campus life while keeping paramount (1) the health and safety of students, staff, faculty, and the Longview community; (2) the distinctives of a LeTourneau education; (3) the engagement of every student in community; and (4) the necessary innovations of teaching, learning, and living together in a world forever changed by the Covid-19 pandemic. In so doing, we seek to bear witness to the hope of the Gospel by loving God and neighbor and responsibly stewarding the gifts of the university for the sake of the world.”

With this aim in view and in concert with state and local directives, transition to careful and selective in-person activity is already underway. And, some important decisions have been made in view of opening up in full in the fall. Please note that the summer and fall academic calendars will change for traditional students, and the summer academic calendar will change for nontraditional students. Here is some detail:

  • Traditional fall classes will begin August 17th and run 14 weeks. Finals will end on Thursday, November 19th. The midterm break is eliminated, and the semester ends a week before Thanksgiving.
  • The nontraditional fall calendar will not change. It will begin on August 24th like originally planned and the three fall nontraditional modules will span the original length of the semester.
  • For this summer, all full-length courses will end one week earlier than originally scheduled. Summer courses originally scheduled to end on August 23, but not full-length, will begin and end one week earlier than originally scheduled.

Returning students, it is important for you take a moment to look at each scheduled class to ensure that you have the correct beginning and ending dates. The course schedules will be updated by the end of this week and will be available at www.letu.edu/academics/course-schedules/index.html. Details for New Student Orientation and housing move-in will be coming soon. I also invite you to our FAQs related to these matters, which is available at www.letu.edu/wbi. This web page is dedicated to all information regarding LeTourneau’s Welcome Back Initiative for reopening the campus.

We are confident that we can continue to provide a world-class Christian Polytechnic University education while taking the necessary precautions to keep our students, faculty, and staff safe. Let’s continue to be steadfast in prayer as we move forward in our reopening plans.

In Christ’s Service,

Steven D. Mason, Ph.D.
Provost & Vice President for Academic Affairs

May 18, 2020

Greetings LeTourneau University Community,

Even as I write to you this morning from home, my heart is drawn to campus and the excitement that, with God’s grace, we will all be back together again in residence soon.  Just days ago, I announced that LeTourneau would return to in-person instruction and on-campus living in the fall (see announcement here).  Since then, much progress has been made:

  • The Texas Governor has begun to implement a phased re-opening of the Texas economy along with expanded monitoring and virus testing;
  • LeTourneau employees are returning to campus in a deliberate, gradual process that began with our facilities team who are preparing the campus for fall classes;
  • Provost Dr. Steve Mason has organized a “Welcome Back” team that will design new living, learning, and workplace processes for a safe and productive new academic year;
  • Students are registering for summer and fall classes in strong numbers.

I know you join me in looking forward to learning and living in community again!

LeTourneau’s Welcome Back Initiative will design, implement and communicate many important safety enhancements in the months leading up to our Fall 2020 semester. The team is a collaborative and interdepartmental effort of both faculty and staff. Guiding documents are available to our campus community for those who are interested in learning more about our ongoing work.  A timeline with key decisions is available above. The Welcome Back Initiative webpage serves as the hub for all welcome back information and updates will be provided often. Of course, we will leverage numerous communication platforms to share this information with our community over the next several weeks.

Several key decisions have already been made regarding our fall academic calendar, summer housing and summer flight instruction. You will receive details about these from Dr. Mason, tomorrow, Tuesday, May 19, 2020.

Over the summer, you’ll want to regularly check the Welcome Back Initiative webpage.  We want to answer all of your questions. 

The health of our students, faculty, staff and community remain my main concern.  We will comply with all federal, state and local public health standards.  We will be creative and flexible in how we live and learn together.  Our legacy of “LeTourneau Ingenuity” will serve us well.

I’m thankful for all diligently working to prepare for a grand return to campus this fall. Living and learning together in Christian community is the enduring promise of LeTourneau University and we are up to the challenge of continuing our legacy.  Please know that we care about you, we love you, we pray for you and we look forward to seeing all of your smiling faces very soon.

Dale A. Lunsford, Ph.D.

Key Dates

  • November 19: Last day of traditional fall semester, fall meal plans end
  • December 13: Last day of nontraditional fall semester
  • January 11: First day of nontraditional spring semester
  • January 18: Residence halls open for new traditional students
  • January 19: Residence halls open for returning traditional students
  • January 20: First day of traditional spring semester
  • May 3-6: Final Exams (traditional programs)
  • May 8: Commencement

Additional Resources