You know spring is arriving on the Evergreen campus when you see students sitting in the chairs on the porch of the Humanities Center. I hope you’re enjoying the sunshine and this taste of spring weather. I also hope you’re feeling good about all you’ve achieved and learned in your classes as we reach the midpoint of the semester.
We are receiving questions about the break, so I wanted to provide information about our plans. Students who are living in Loyola housing are welcome to leave or stay on campus for the break. We are asking that students only travel domestically and use all health precautions while traveling. We are not permitting students to travel internationally during the break and then return to campus because of the COVID-19 risks associated with international travel.
We will hold no classes over the break, though dining services will be available, the Fitness & Aquatic Center and Library will be open, and Campus Ministry will offer services in Alumni Memorial Chapel for Holy Week and Easter.
Beginning on Tuesday, April 6, we will conduct baseline testing of all undergraduate students who are taking in-person classes this semester, including those who are living off-campus and commuters. During that week after Easter (April 5-9), we will participate in a modified Campus Assessment and Restriction Period (CARP), holding all classes and events online until everyone has been tested. All meals will be grab-and-go beginning on Easter Sunday evening. Student Health Services will use rapid tests for that testing, so results will be available within 15 minutes of testing.
We expect to end the CARP during the weekend of April 10. We will communicate the end date and time that week. There is always a chance that test results would dictate a modified CARP for segments or all of our community.
Our health care partner, LifeBridge Health, has reviewed and endorsed our plan, and we are confident we will be well-poised to complete the semester.
As a reminder to all students, if you leave the State of Maryland, you must quarantine for 10 days when you return to campus. If you want to get tested before traveling, you can see this list of off-campus testing sites that Student Health Services has created
We are seeing an increase in the number of students who are allowing off-campus Loyola students or non-Loyola students in their rooms for extended periods of time. Student Health Services has seen positive cases happening due to these interactions—and students needing to quarantine as a result. Please remember you should not have guests from other buildings, off-campus, or outside Loyola in your residential unit. I realize the inconvenience of dealing with these restrictions, but they are in place for your health and the safety of our community.
As you make use of other study and gathering spaces around campus, please pay attention to signage that specifies how many people may use a particular room or space. Those numbers are defined for everyone’s safety.
As much as we are focusing on wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, and taking other steps for our physical health, it is also extremely important to consider your mental health during this time. Under the leadership of the Counseling Center, a group of professionals at the University has created a COVID-19 Mental Health Survival Guide full of resources for you. Please remember that we have many resources in place to support you, and the Counseling Center
is always a good place to start if you aren’t sure where to turn.
Our seniors and their families are eager to know our plans for Commencement, and I wish I had a firm and foolproof plan to share with you. Loyola is working actively to plan a Commencement ceremony, developing a few different scenarios. We do not know what we will be able to do within the guidelines set by Baltimore City and the State of Maryland. Currently, the State of Maryland is only allowing events of 100 people or fewer, but we remain optimistic that those guidelines will change.
At this point, we are tentatively planning to celebrate the Class of 2020 and 2021 with Commencement ceremonies the weekend of May 22, 2021. Recognizing how important it is for families to be able to plan, we will share details as soon as we finalize them. We will send another update later this month when we will have more details. We are exploring both in-person and virtual options, and we are still determining how many guests each graduate would be able to bring. We also expect to have more clarity on the government and health guidance we must follow. We are actively looking at options—both on campus and off—to find the best scenario given government guidelines.
Not being able to hold an in-person celebration for the Class of 2020 last May has been one of my greatest disappointments of the pandemic. I know what this event means to our young people every year, and we are determined to find creative and safe ways to celebrate our Classes of 2020 and 2021.
Recently, national news outlets have been reporting violence and hate crimes directed toward Asian Americans. These acts of prejudice and bigotry are an evil that denies persons their human dignity. Whenever we see racism in action, we must ask ourselves what we can do to create a more equitable, inclusive, welcoming community—particularly here on Loyola’s campus.
Each of us has a role to play in combating racism and creating a more just world. If you’re not sure what your role might be, I invite you to consider some of the sessions related to equity and inclusion that are scheduled for Mission Week, which begins Sunday, March 14. You'll find a full schedule of events on the Mission Week website
As we look forward to warmer weather and enjoy time outdoors, please continue to be vigilant in wearing your masks and engaging in social distancing. Thank you for doing your part to help keep yourself and our community safe and healthy.
Enjoy a safe, relaxing weekend, and know you and your families are in my prayers.
Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.