The following is an email that was sent to the Loyola community on Wednesday, March 18, 2020.
Subject: Loyola to extend online-only instruction through the close of the academic year
Dear Members of the Loyola Community,
I write today to let you know that Loyola will extend online-only instruction through the close of the spring semester. As we continue to get clear guidance from government and health officials, we have no option but to keep instruction online through the end of the academic year.
During such an uncertain time, we wanted to give you as much notice as possible so we can better prepare for all that lies ahead. At the same time, however, I am reaching out to you before we have the full answers to three important questions that are weighing on our students' and families’ minds.
1. 2020 Commencement
Based on the information we are receiving from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding crowds, we have no choice but to postpone Commencement. I know this is terribly disappointing news for our Class of 2020—and all those who are so proud of them. I assure you that we have some wonderful ideas about a special way to celebrate you and all your accomplishments. You will have a Commencement, even if the timing of those festivities is beyond our control at this moment. As soon as we have more details, we will share them with you, so you and your families and friends can plan to join us for a long-awaited, truly memorable ceremony.
2. Student Charges
Now that we know that our students will not be returning to campus for the rest of the spring semester, we are in a better position to begin reviewing decisions about certain billable student charges for the Spring 2020 semester. While we still need to work out the details, I can share that the University will provide an appropriate prorated refund or credit for room and board. This analysis is quite involved because there are varying options and rates associated. Our students and their families will receive more information on this issue soon. I want to thank our students and their families for their patience, understanding, support, and flexibility as we have made this series of decisions, none of which has been easy.
3. Move-Out Schedule
I know our undergraduate students are eager to return to campus to collect their belongings. Unfortunately, with the current challenges around travel and social distancing, we are unable to determine a time frame that will work for students to come back to empty their residence hall rooms, safely. I will let you know as soon as we have set a time frame, and I can assure you that we will be flexible and accommodating of your needs at that time.
Meanwhile, housing selection will be delayed. The Office of Student Life will communicate with students directly about this and post information on their website.
Status of Campuses
On Loyola’s campuses we are operating under a low-density model, transitioning more employees to telecommuting each day. We continue to try to ensure that those who do remain on campus are social distancing. At this time, the University remains open to faculty, staff, administrators, and the very limited number of students with exceptional circumstances who have permission to stay.
With each day’s news, we encounter new challenges. Difficult as it may be, I encourage you also to view those as possible opportunities—for learning, for connecting with others, for reflecting, and for keeping a hopeful eye on the future.
This week, as we marked St. Patrick’s Day, I have found myself thinking of St. Patrick’s Breastplate, part of which reads, “I bind to myself today God’s power to guide me, God’s Might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to teach me, God’s Eye to watch over me, God’s Ear to hear me, God’s Word to give me speech, God’s Hand to guide me, God’s Way to lie before me, God’s Shield to shelter me.”
During this time, I will continue to pray for you and feel grateful for the strength and compassion of our wonderful Loyola community. God bless you.
Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.