The following is an email that was sent to the Loyola community, including families, on Friday, March 13, 2020.
Subject: Loyola to extend online-only instruction through Easter Break
Dear Members of the Loyola Community,
This is a difficult and anxious time for many, and I hope you are doing well as we navigate this time and transition together. We all have many questions and concerns, and I appreciate your patience as we continue to move through an evolving situation that is unprecedented not just for Loyola, but also for our nation and world.
I am so grateful for the flexibility and understanding of students and their families during this time. I am particularly thankful for the continuous, dedicated work of the faculty, staff, and administrators who are working around the clock to help our community adapt to, prepare for, and support our students and one another during this crisis. We may not all be able to be in the same geographic location, but I hope you know that we are companions for one another at this moment and through all that lies ahead.
As of today, we have not had a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 in the Loyola community. Yesterday, however, Maryland’s governor, Gov. Larry Hogan, announced that Maryland has had its first case of COVID-19 by community transmission. The governor put a series of restrictions in place for government agencies. He also challenged private organizations and institutions to consider how we can work actively to reduce the spread of this novel coronavirus, limit day-to-day interaction and activities, and focus on providing essential services. We must embrace the concept of social distancing and continue to work to minimize risk and exposure to our campus community.
Extending Online-Only Instruction
Recognizing that this is a watershed moment in Maryland’s battle against COVID-19, we have made the decision to extend our online-only instruction period, which will begin on Wednesday, March 18. As of this moment, we plan to resume face-to-face classes for graduate students on Monday, April 13, and for undergraduate students on Tuesday, April 14, after the Easter Break. We will be regularly reassessing whether to change that date to a later one, and we will certainly give our students, families, and faculty as much notice as possible if it changes. The University will also continue to communicate with you regularly, and we will keep our coronavirus webpage updated with the latest information and FAQs.
Making the decision to suspend face-to-face instruction and send our students home was extremely difficult, but we knew it was the only choice as we were putting the health and safety of our students and our community first. Loyola, of course, is not alone. We are joined by nearly 150 colleges and universities that have had to make this decision when facing this unprecedented global crisis. But we all wish we were not in this situation.
I trust that our students will continue to have transformative educational experiences as they connect with our talented, dedicated faculty online in the weeks ahead. Our professors have stepped forward eagerly to prepare these courses, immersing themselves in trainings about online education and infusing that with the Jesuit, liberal arts approach we value. I’m so grateful to our faculty—and not at all surprised that they are committed to ensuring that our students have an outstanding education and experience.
Remote Work for Employees
As a university, we are trying to support faculty, staff, and administrators who may need to work remotely. Your vice president or supervisor will be in touch to work with you to reduce the number of employees who are present on our campuses, keeping in mind that many may need flexibility because they are at-risk for COVID-19 under the CDC guidelines, ill, caring for ill family members, or caring for children who are home with Maryland’s public schools closed for two weeks. I encourage divisions to transition to a schedule with fewer employees present and more working from home. I also encourage employees not to congregate or gather and embrace the concept of social distancing in all parts of your life. If you are unable to work due to COVID-19 related issues, refer to the HR information sent out yesterday and contact the office of human resources about use of the COVID-19 leave back.
Yesterday we also learned that the Patriot League had made the decision to cancel the spring athletics season. Our student-athletes and athletic programs are a source of pride for Loyola University Maryland—and will continue to be. My thoughts are with our student-athletes, families, coaches, athletics staff, and fans who have been so looking forward to an exceptional spring season.
Considering recent developments and the new level 3 Global Health Advisory, we have reached out to those students who are still abroad to recommend that they return home to complete their semester in the United States. Many of the students have already returned to their homes in the U.S. Loyola’s study abroad program, which is a point of distinction for us among our peers, offers an extraordinary array of intellectual and cultural experiences to our students. I feel so disappointed for our students who are having to cut those experiences short.
Students, if you need additional support, please reach out to the professionals in the Counseling Center, Campus Ministry, the student life office, or Student Health Services. If you need assistance outside regular business hours, please call the department of public safety at 410-617-5911, and they will connect you with someone who can help. Employees may contact Loyola’s Employee Assistance (EAP) Program at 1-800-765-0770.
This is not the spring semester you—or any of us—imagined. This time of the year is typically packed with anticipated and treasured events and occasions, lectures and gatherings. It must be particularly difficult and sad for our students to be separated from our campus at this time, when the warm weather draws students to the Humanities Porch and to hammocks on the Quad. There is a sadness and an emptiness. There is also an expectant anticipation, a realization that this space is waiting for students to return. I hope that is soon, but we cannot be sure. But I have faith that you will stay in close communication with friends wherever you are. And, I hope you know, that wherever you go, Loyola is also your home.
In the days and weeks ahead, please know that you and your loved ones are in my prayers.
God bless you.
Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.