Dear Graduate Students,
With the national spike in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant, we are adapting our plans for the start of the Spring 2022 semester. As eager as we all are to proceed with life as normal, we recognize that the high number of people who are testing positive with COVID-19 includes many of our students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Although those cases tend to be mild, omicron is highly transmissible, and those numbers are expected to stay high in the weeks ahead.
An Online Learning Start
As a result, for the first two weeks of the Spring semester, all undergraduate and graduate courses will be offered entirely online. Undergraduate residential students are still welcome to move into their residence halls later this month as scheduled, and we will provide dining and other campus support services to all students during this time.
By offering all instruction online for the first two weeks, our faculty and students will be able to participate in classes even if they have tested positive but feel well enough to attend. Online courses will be held online all semester as scheduled.
For in-person courses, instruction will begin online for two weeks and then transition to in-person beginning on Monday, Jan. 31. That is also the date by which members of the Loyola community will submit proof of the required vaccine booster.
Professionals across the University in student service offices, such as the Academic Advising and Support Center (AASC), the Study, the Writing Center, and the Counseling Center, will be prepared to support you.
Individual graduate programs will communicate with students regarding internships, externships, and clinical placements, and students should continue to follow the guidance and policies of their placement sites regarding in-person activities and COVID-19 precautions.
Additional COVID Protocols
The University will be implementing additional COVID protocols for at least the rest of the month:
- KN95 masks are strongly recommended. The omicron variant is extremely transmissible, and medical experts are recommending the use of KN95 masks to reduce the spread. We will distribute two KN95 masks to each student and employee. We strongly encourage you to acquire additional KN95 masks or, as a secondary option, wear both a cloth mask and a surgical mask. These masks will offer the best protection against transmission, and their use is recommended until further notice.
- Event attendance will be limited. Attendance at University events will be limited, and proof of vaccination will be required for those without exemptions granted by Loyola. The 5 p.m. Sunday Mass will be held in the Alumni Memorial Chapel beginning on Sunday, Jan. 16, with masking and social distancing guidelines in place. No catering (food or beverages) will be offered at campus events or meetings before Monday, Jan. 31. You can see the modifications on attendance at athletic events on the Greyhounds athletics website. The University reserves the right to adjust the events policy at any time based on the level of COVID transmission on campus and in Baltimore.
- Isolation/quarantine protocols may be amended. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently changed the guidance around the length of isolation and quarantine, particularly for people who test positive but are asymptomatic and for close contacts. The University is awaiting forthcoming guidance from the CDC specifically for higher education institutions and consulting with the Baltimore City Health Department, as well as other medical experts. For the time being, we will continue with the full 10-day isolation for Loyola community members who test positive. Students testing positive and identified as close contacts should follow the guidance provided by Student Health Services or their personal physician.
This is not the way we wanted to begin the Spring semester, and certainly not the first news I wanted to share with you as your president. However, my Cabinet and I feel confident that this will position us, so we can keep our community healthy and safe while also continuing instruction. We fully intend to begin in-person classes on Monday, Jan. 31.
We have so much to look forward to during the Spring 2022 semester, and I hope we can consider this approach not as a step back but as a step forward. Together, we will make the most of this time.
Terrence M. Sawyer, J.D.