Dear Loyola Families,
With the semester well underway, I hope you are enjoying connecting with other members of our Loyola community and making the most of this time. At Loyola, we often speak about our Greyhound Nation to describe how members of our community connect throughout our country and around the globe.
Student leaders and faculty, staff, and administrators across the University are working to create and strengthen connections through creative online experiences and events and social media. I encourage you to take advantage of those opportunities to engage with our Loyola community.
Plans for Spring 2021
I know how much our students want to be back on campus for an in-person residential experience, and I assure you that that is exactly what I want for you, too. Loyola takes great pride in offering exceptional face-to-face classes and a full living and learning experience. While working to ensure that you benefit from an outstanding education and experience this fall, we are also working ardently toward fully reopening our campuses for a residential experience for our undergraduate students and a mixture of modes of teaching, including face-to-face instruction, for all students for the spring semester.
As we refine and update our reopening plan, we are focusing on four areas: testing, case management (including contact tracing), logistics, and communication. We’re also closely watching the institutions that opened this fall to understand their successes and learn from the challenges they are experiencing. We recognize that we have much we can learn from our peers as we work to put in place the best possible plan for the spring semester.
We know that, even with the best plans in place, we will have positive cases when students return to campus. We will work closely with our health care partner to create an extensive plan for case management and student care. I look forward to sharing the details of that partnership with you in the coming weeks.
Terrence Sawyer, J.D., senior vice president, will continue to oversee the reopening planning with the help of the University’s Policy Group and a steering committee comprised of the leadership of the working groups we formed last spring. Our goal is to have a final plan fully in place by Nov. 19, so professionals within the University’s emergency response infrastructure can conduct tabletop exercises and drills. This plan will be tested and modified, as necessary, so we can be as prepared as possible. I assure you we will take every possible step to welcome and support students in person for the spring semester.
We will continue to provide regular updates about the Spring 2021 semester as we work toward our reopening. If you have specific questions and are not sure which office or department to call, please send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
When students left the Evergreen campus in March, we were just beginning work on our Fernandez Center for Innovation and Collaborative Learning. Now, the structure is in place and you can truly envision what that extra learning and collaboration space will add to our campus.
We have added modular classroom buildings to Diane Geppi-Aikens Field and continue to make changes, including the installation of new technology in classrooms, to prepare to welcome our students in January. These classrooms will offer additional space where students can learn and engage with physical distancing.
Please keep in mind that you can do your part to help us reopen for the spring by engaging in healthy behavior wherever you are. It is important to wear face coverings in public, engage in physical distancing, and avoid large gatherings. Face coverings and physical distancing are required at all times on the Evergreen campus until further notice.
Wherever you are this fall, your decision to engage in safe, healthy behavior can have an impact on the overall health of your community. I hope you will make it a priority to get your flu shot, monitor your symptoms daily, and take steps to help keep yourself—and others—healthy.
Student Support Resources
I encourage students to reach out and take advantage of the many virtual resources on campus that are in place to offer academic, emotional, and spiritual support. Navigating college can be challenging. Navigating college while studying online during a pandemic may cause added stress and anxiety.
Please know that professionals across our university are prepared to support our students during this time. You can find a list of some of the many resources available on this Online Student Resources page.
Facebook Page for Families
I want to remind you that you are invited to join the new Loyola Parents and Families page. To be admitted to the group, you must answer all of the questions and check the box to agree to the community rules. If you have any trouble joining, please send an email to email@example.com. Please do not feel pressured to join the Facebook page and know that official communications will continue to be sent via email.
Mass of the Holy Spirit
Every fall we ask for God’s blessing on the new academic year at the Mass of the Holy Spirit, a beautiful celebration and reminder that God walks with us today and through each day that lies before us. I invite you to join us for the Mass this Sunday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m. through this live-streamed Mass page.
I look forward to celebrating the Mass with some of my brother Jesuits from our Jesuit Community and hearing from our homilist, Rev. Tim O’Brien, S.J. Student lectors will share the Word of God from their homes, and we’ll enjoy a song from the Chapel Choir, which adds such beauty to our liturgies.
We are, indeed, leaning on the Holy Spirit in this moment, asking for courage, knowledge, and understanding. It seems appropriate, too, that this weekend marks Rosh Hashanah, a time when our Jewish siblings engage in introspection and rejoice in new beginnings. We have much to look forward to in the weeks and months ahead, and I am gratified that we are on this journey together.
Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.