Over the past few weeks, many members of our community have shared what they miss about being on campus, along with messages of hope. You can see some of them compiled in this beautiful Greyhounds United video that was the brainchild of Alex Brune, ’24. I sincerely miss seeing you all on campus every day, and I take heart that we will be together again soon. There is so much excitement around the plans for the spring semester.
Upcoming Town Halls
We will post more detailed updates to our reopening site after we finalize our plan on Nov. 19. For now, new information can be found on the Spring 2021 FAQ page.
We have scheduled our next Town Halls so we can share finalized information around our planning for reopening in January. I invite you to mark your calendar and register via these links:
Monday, Nov. 23, 5 p.m. (seniors)
Tuesday, Nov. 24, 5 p.m. (first-year students)
Tuesday, Nov. 24, 7 p.m. (sophomores and juniors)
You will be able to submit questions as you are registering for the Town Hall. Please feel free to send any more urgent questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of our preparations, we are working to ensure that we have enough isolation space identified for residential students who test positive for COVID in the spring. We are speaking with peer institutions who have shared that they underestimated the amount of isolation space that is needed on their campuses, and we do not want to fall short.
Now that students with spring housing assignments have completed their housing contracts, we can see that several of our students chose to find off-campus housing for the year. This created vacancies on campus, which we will use to address our isolation needs. Most of the vacancies are on the East side of campus, near Ahern, which has already been closed to create isolation space. To maximize our isolation space, we need to consolidate students into other residential spaces.
We are closing Aquinas for the spring semester and consolidating spaces in Rahner and McAuley. Students currently assigned to Rahner and McAuley will remain in Rahner and McAuley, but they may be reassigned to a different townhome or apartment. Complete groups will stay together, and incomplete groups may be combined with others. Students in Aquinas will have the option to move to McAuley, or to the Woodberry or Social.
The office of student life will contact the residents of Rahner, McAuley, and Aquinas directly to communicate these changes. Aquinas residents will have the opportunity to schedule a time to speak to a student development professional to review their options.
Recognizing that this may be unwelcome news for students whose housing assignments will be changing, I wanted to help you understand why we are taking these steps. I also wanted you to know that we may have to take additional steps to consolidate student residents across campus and in Loyola housing, particularly in places where we have suites and apartments with multiple vacancies. If this applies to you, you will receive additional information from the office of student life.
Students who still need to apply for Loyola housing will hear from student life next week.
Room and Board Grace Period
For the Spring 2021 semester, we are offering students a two-week grace period on room and board. If residential students voluntarily decide during the first two weeks of in-person classes that they want to move out of campus housing and continue their Loyola instruction remotely, we will refund their room and board charges for the semester.
Testing and Contact Tracing
We are finalizing our plans for a partner that will come to the Evergreen campus to provide surveillance testing on-site for us. We want to make this as easy for our community as possible. We have also identified a firm that will handle contact tracing for students, faculty, staff, and administrators. Contact tracing is another area that has been a weakness for other institutions, and we want to ensure we have the best possible measures in place.
Because students know they will not be able to visit students in other residence halls in the spring, many have been asking what activities will be offered. Student development colleagues are hard at work—and having fun doing it—planning creative ways for you to connect both virtually and in person in a safe, socially distant way. The Fitness & Aquatic Center (FAC) will be open, of course, as physical fitness is especially important for your overall wellbeing and contributes to your mental health, as well. Even students who are living off campus will have the chance to connect through activities and use of the FAC.
Last week we shared with our students who were planning to study abroad that Loyola will not be sending students abroad this spring. Our study abroad programs are a point of pride for Loyola, and many of our juniors had been looking forward to that educational experience. We do plan to offer some summer study abroad experiences in 2021, including new summer programs in Belgium, Spain, and Thailand. We look forward to sharing those details in mid-November.
As we continue to navigate this unusual time, I invite you to join the Loyola community in praying for all those we have lost this past year at our annual All Souls Mass on Monday, Nov. 2, at 12:10 p.m., which will be livestreamed. You are welcome to submit the names of any deceased loved ones you would like to be remembered during the Mass. Even though we may be separated by distance, we can still come together in prayer.
It can be easy to feel that this pandemic is interrupting or stalling us in addressing what matters most in our world. This week is a historic one for Loyola, however, as we launch the Karson Institute for Race, Peace, and Social Justice. I encourage you to keep in mind that the work we do within ourselves and within our community is important and ongoing, and that it will take more than a global pandemic to interrupt growth and positive change.
As I walk the beautiful Evergreen campus each day and see the changing colors of the trees, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers in a special way. I look forward to being with you soon.
Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.