If you were able to watch the Reopening Update we presented this past Tuesday, you will already be aware of much of this information. I wanted to reach out, however, to inform you of the progress we are making as we count down to welcoming students back for an in-person, residential experience for the Spring 2021 semester.
Our intention is to open our campuses fully to our students in January. I assure you we are determined to make that happen, and we are working to ensure everything is in place for our students’ arrival.
We are making some important additions to extend and enhance the expertise and services our Student Health Services (SHS) team can provide:
Health care partner: I’m pleased to share that we will be partnering with LifeBridge Health, and specifically Sinai Hospital. Sinai will help us with COVID testing, case management of students who are in quarantine and isolation, after-hours support, and with hospitalizations (which we certainly hope are not needed). Our SHS team has had a positive relationship with Sinai in recent years, and we look forward to collaborating with them in advancing the health of our community.
Infectious disease specialist: SHS is also consulting with an infectious disease specialist, who will serve as a resource to our team as we make decisions moving forward.
The testing environment is changing for the better, with increased access to tests and a faster turnaround time. We expect that to continue to improve as we get closer to January.
Before students return to campus: All students living in Loyola housing will need to show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test result that has been completed within 7-14 days of their planned move-in date. We will also ask that you self-quarantine at home for 14 days prior to arrival to campus. We are still reviewing protocols for graduate students and students living off campus in non-Loyola housing and will provide an update as soon as we finalize plans.
Once students have returned to campus: We will provide symptomatic testing of students who report symptoms via the Campus Clear symptom tracker app and surveillance testing of all NCAA student-athletes (as required by NCAA guidelines), in addition to random testing of about 10% of the rest of the residential student population.
We have identified employees who are being trained through a program offered by the Johns Hopkins University to assist with contact tracing. We are also developing a team of case managers so that we may provide ongoing monitoring and appropriate support to our students while they are in quarantine and isolation.
Quarantine and Isolation
We will ask each student to have a “go bag” ready in case they need to relocate to the isolation space. The office of student life will provide a packing list in advance so students can be prepared.
Residential students who test positive will be permitted and encouraged to go home if they can do so safely; we will provide isolation space for those who are not able to go home. A student will take their go bag and academic materials and relocate to their isolation space. They will stay in that space until they are cleared by Student Health Services to return to their residence hall. SHS in conjunction with LifeBridge Health will provide daily telehealth visits for students, and each student will be assigned a case manager who will check in with them throughout the isolation period.
Students who may have been exposed and are awaiting test results will quarantine in their current living space.
Students in isolation and quarantine will have their meals delivered by Parkhurst Dining, which will work with students on dietary restrictions and allergies.
Parkhurst is reducing density in its dining facilities by adding a tent that will be located adjacent to the modular classrooms on Diane Geppi-Aikens Field. Parkhurst is implementing additional measures to ensure students can enjoy a safe and enjoyable dining experience with a variety of choices this spring—including adding grab-and-go items to their current variety of offerings. You can learn more on the dining website.
As we plan for the spring, we see that about 25% of undergraduate courses will be online, and the remainder will be hybrid. A hybrid class typically will meet once a week as a whole class in person with the professor, and the other classes that week will meet online.
- How to recognize an online course: When students search for courses in WebAdvisor, classes that we already know will be online will be marked with a “W” before the section number. For now, you can assume that a class without a “W” is hybrid. The statuses of those classes could change, however. Labs will be conducted with physical distancing that ensures students get hands-on experience. All final exams will be administered online.
- Academic support services: Most of these services will continue virtually for the spring, and we will assess over time to determine whether in-person opportunities can be offered safely later this spring.
- Study abroad: Five of our study abroad university partners have canceled their programs for spring. Loyola will announce decisions on the other programs by the end of the day on Oct. 20.
The office of student life has contacted all students with a spring housing assignment to confirm their housing needs for the spring semester. The housing contract must be signed by today, Friday, Oct. 16. We recognize that much can change between now and January, and you may request to cancel the contract until Dec. 15 with no penalty. If you have questions about the housing contract, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student life will next reach out to students who don’t have a spring housing assignment to see if they want campus housing for the spring.
Although much of this update is focused on students who will be living on campus, we are certainly considering all students in our planning. Many students who will be living off campus for the spring have reached out to ask whether non-residential students will be permitted to attend classes on campus, use campus facilities such as the Fitness and Aquatic Center and the Loyola/Notre Dame Library, and participate actively in in-person events. You certainly will.
Students who will be on campus at all will be expected to complete the mandatory training module that SHS will be updating for students for the spring semester, sign the Healthy Hounds pledge, use the Campus Clear symptom tracker every day, and comply with all health and safety policies.
We receive many questions from students and their parents who are concerned about how Loyola will hold students responsible if they don’t comply with policies related to health and safety. Student conduct has updated the University policies, which are available here. Violation of those policies would ultimately be addressed through the student conduct process, but I hope our students will engage in a culture of positive peer pressure and kind correction, encouraging others to wear face coverings and engage in physical distancing for their health and others’.
We are working mightily to put plans in place for a successful and rewarding semester for our students—and for our entire community. Please know we are taking every step we can to make sure your experience at Loyola will be healthy and safe. And we know you will enjoy being here on campus with your friends and faculty members and the staff and administrators who miss you so much.
Stay well, please make good choices for your own health and safety, and trust that we are preparing our campus for your arrival. God bless you and your families.
Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.