As we continue through the Spring 2021 semester, it’s important to focus on the present. There is also a benefit, however, to looking ahead to the opportunities of the future. Having something to look forward to can help us navigate the challenges of the moment with patience, stamina, and grace.
I encourage those of you who aren’t graduating this spring to look forward to the fall when we know the Loyola experience will be more normal. Thanks to the promise of greater availability of vaccines and expected progress toward herd immunity, we are actively planning for an in-person, on-campus, and exhilarating Fall 2021.
Fully In-Person Semester
We are planning for a rich and engaging semester of in-person classes, events, and experiences. Although we expect we may still be wearing masks, we are hopeful that social distancing will be less of a concern. Regardless, we are confident that we will be able to offer a fully in-person experience for fall.
We will, of course, have plans in place in case we need to take additional steps to continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19—allowing for extra space in classrooms, for example—and we expect to continue some degree of testing and provide isolation space for students who are not vaccinated and test positive. But we are eager to return to a more typical Loyola University Maryland education and experience with all the in-person opportunities that our students have come to enjoy.
Commitment to Health and Safety
We recognize that with COVID-19 variants and shifts in the public health landscape, we may need to adapt these plans. But I assure you that we are moving forward with our ongoing commitment to health and safety, as well as our promise to deliver a world-class Jesuit liberal arts and professional education to students like you.
At this point, we are strongly encouraging—but not yet requiring—members of our community to receive one of the available COVID-19 vaccines when they are available to you. Once the vaccines have been approved by the FDA, we plan to require that members of our community be vaccinated, allowing for health and religious exceptions as we do for other vaccines.
We will, of course, work to accommodate students whose health or visa status will prevent their return to campus for an in-person education and experience. We will share more information as we firm up those options.
Today, we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, which always comes as spring is starting to arrive and we can tell that warmer, brighter days are ahead. I hope that if you are marking this feast, you will continue to make safe, healthy decisions and perhaps wear a little Irish—or Loyola—green.
Here is an Irish blessing for your day:
May God give you
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.
I hope you can find time today to consider the blessings of being a part of this community and the gift you can be to others through your words and actions every day.
Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.