During our first full week of in-person classes, we are beginning surveillance testing for both students and employees. Prior to this, the positive tests we had been seeing came primarily from our baseline testing as students arrived on campus. The start of surveillance testing is a significant step in the execution of our plan.
The testing results make me feel optimistic about the weeks ahead. As of this morning, of the 408 surveillance tests conducted this week, we have received 346 results and can report that we have only 1 student who has tested positive for COVID-19 from this group at this time. We know we will have ongoing positive test results, and we have plans in place to help us support those students, mitigate the impact of COVID, and limit its transmission.
Our Student Health Center staff and LifeBridge, our health care partner, are ecstatic with our results thus far and assure me that we are well-positioned for a healthy, successful semester. We just need to stay on track—and that requires the participation and good decision-making of every member of our community.
As the University has been preparing to move from baseline testing to the surveillance testing component of our plan, we have been receiving feedback from members of our community—including some of our expert faculty—who offered suggestions on improving the COVID-19 dashboard to better convey that information. Colleagues across the University are collaborating to determine how best to present the data and give quick data to convey the status of COVID-19 on campus accurately.
Here at Loyola, we embrace the Jesuit value of constantly challenging ourselves to improve. While we are working on technical enhancements to better present the data in a functional and designed format, we will continue to publish the latest information each day. The dashboard is a critical communication tool for us as we work to keep our community informed. It is, however, not the only tool, and I will continue to provide context and a more complete understanding in my messages.
Clear communication and transparency are essential as we navigate this semester together.
Quarantine and Isolation
In these first few weeks on the Evergreen campus, our students are learning more about isolation and quarantine—what those terms mean and what the experience looks like for a student.
As a reminder, isolation is for individuals who have tested positive and have a confirmed case of COVID-19, even though they may not be presenting any symptoms. Quarantine is for individuals who have been identified as close contacts of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Students who are in quarantine stay in their rooms and do not attend classes or other in-person experiences on campus. Students who are required to quarantine know because they receive official notification via email from our contact tracers. Their faculty are then notified that they will be absent from in-person class. All students must use Campus Clear each morning to track their symptoms so they will be notified if they need to quarantine.
We have identified a significant amount of isolation space in Loyola housing so residential students can isolate in our housing if they are not able to return safely home. You’ll see that one of the metrics we are sharing on the COVID-19 dashboard is the number of students in Loyola isolation. As of the time of this email, we have 17 students staying in isolation space at Loyola and 27 students quarantining at Loyola. Every student in isolation is assigned a case manager, who provides pastoral or emotional support, while our team of COVID logistics coordinators (CLCs) coordinates all logistical support such as transport, meals, mail/packages, and more. We want to make sure all our students are supported.
I’m pleased to report that most of our students who have tested positive since the end of the Campus Arrival Restriction Period (CARP) have had mild or moderate symptoms or are asymptomatic.
You can learn more about quarantine and isolation at Loyola on the Case Management page.
As most of our undergraduate students have started their hybrid classes on campus, about 700 students are attending class and participating in our community remotely. You are valued members of our community, and I hope you have a wonderful semester, learning and connecting with friends and making the most of this time. We have many virtual events happening this semester, and all our classes and support services are available to you.
We hope to see you in person after this semester is over, and we very much look forward to your active participation in the Loyola community throughout this time.
Just as a reminder to all residential students and families, we are offering a two-week grace period on room and board. If residential students voluntarily decide during the first two weeks of in-person classes that they want to move home and continue their Loyola instruction remotely, we will refund their room and board charges for the semester. The deadline for making that decision is 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. Students making this choice should contact the office of the dean of undergraduate and graduate studies at email@example.com
before the deadline.
Patience and Understanding
As we settle into the rhythm of this semester, thank you for the patience and understanding you are extending to one another. Flexibility during this time will be key, along with offering grace to those we encounter each day.
Our faculty, staff, and administrators across the University have been working diligently for so long to prepare for this semester, and I am in awe of their continued dedication and enthusiasm for their work. How wonderful it is for our undergraduates to have in-person classes again.
I am grateful for all you are doing to help promote the health and safety of the Loyola community every day.
Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.