Dear Undergraduate Students,
The semester is moving along quickly, and I expect you are looking forward to your Thanksgiving Break, which is just around the corner.
It is troubling to see COVID-19 cases rising in Maryland and across the country, and it seems likely we are looking at a challenging winter. I assure you that we have been developing our reopening plan with the expectation that there could be an increase in cases. We feel confident that the steps we are putting in place—including creating a detailed plan for testing, contact tracing, and case management—will help mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19 and position us well for the Spring 2021 semester. I’m grateful that we have an excellent plan and that we have time to further refine it and test it before we welcome students to our campuses for in-person instruction in January.
Town Hall Reminder
Next week we will share our reopening plan with you. On Monday, Nov. 23, and Tuesday, Nov. 24, we will offer Town Halls, where we will delve into the plan and answer your questions about the Spring 2021 semester. If you haven’t registered to attend a Town Hall, here are the links:
Monday, Nov. 23, 5 p.m. (seniors) Registration link
Tuesday, Nov. 24, 5 p.m. (first-year students) Registration link
Tuesday, Nov. 24, 7 p.m. (sophomores and juniors) Registration link
You are invited to submit questions as you are registering for the Town Hall. Please feel free to send any more urgent questions to email@example.com.
We are planning to welcome our residential students during move-in from Jan. 11-17. Move-in times will be scheduled to promote physical distancing, and each student can bring one person with them to help them move in. Returning students will move in on Jan. 11, 12, 13, and 17. Transfer students will move in on Jan. 13. First-year students will move in on Jan. 15 and 16.
Students are discouraged from overpacking and bringing unnecessary items, and students should not bring additional furniture. All residential students should bring a packed “go bag” with items they may need if they test positive for COVID-19 and need to move to one of our isolation spaces. More details on move-in and what to bring and leave at home will be communicated to students in the coming weeks.
Testing for COVID-19 will be key to a healthy semester for our community, and we want to begin the semester in the best possible position. We will explain this in more detail in the reopening plan, but I wanted to give you advance notice of our plans for testing for the start of the semester.
• Residential students: We will not require proof of a negative PCR test prior to the arrival of undergraduate students who will be living in Loyola housing. Instead, baseline testing for undergraduate residential students will be conducted on campus upon students’ arrival. In order to mitigate risk and provide a cohesive opening experience for all residential undergraduate students, the entire community will participate in a Campus Arrival Restriction Period (CARP) beginning on Jan. 11 and continuing through Jan. 20. During CARP, residential students will limit their interactions with others, dining facilities will be open only for grab-and-go meals, the Fitness and Aquatic Center will be closed, and in-person meetings and events will not be held. The first two days of classes will be held online to allow for all test results to be received before the start of in-person classes and interactions on Jan. 20.
• Off-campus Students/Commuters: Students who are living off-campus in non-Loyola housing will need to provide proof of a negative PCR test that has been administered Jan. 5 or later prior to returning to campus for classes or use of any Loyola facilities. They will not be part of the baseline testing on campus. We will require that off-campus students stay off campus except for essential purposes until after the CARP is complete on Jan. 20.
Every student—residential or commuter—will also need to submit proof of an influenza vaccination to firstname.lastname@example.org before returning to campus. Student Health Services will be evaluating medical and religious exemptions on a case-by-case basis, and they ask that supporting documentation for these also be submitted to email@example.com.
Once students have returned to campus, we will also 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 our undergraduate and graduate students, both those living on campus and off-campus.
We want to approach the semester from a position of strength and provide the highest probability for a healthy campus, allowing us to stay open through the semester. That will take a commitment on the part of each of us, as well as patience, cooperation, and understanding.
Fall 2021 Grading
We have received questions from students and families about why the Pass/No Credit option is not available this semester. Last spring, we offered that option to students because of the challenges that both faculty and students faced when we suddenly moved from in-person to fully online instruction. Many members of the faculty had little experience teaching fully online courses, and most of our students also had little experience with completely virtual learning.
The fall semester, on the other hand, has been fully online from the start. Faculty received additional training in digital pedagogy and designed their courses for fully online learning. A grade for a particular course could be important—and even necessary—for a future career or graduate school opportunity.
I recognize that this may be a challenging semester for you, and I encourage you to reach out for academic and other support resources as needed. Professionals across the University are deeply invested in your success.
Revised Local Restrictions
Students who are currently living off-campus in Baltimore should be aware that there are revised guidelines related to COVID-19 in the city requiring the wearing of face coverings in all public places and limiting gatherings to 10 people. Gov. Larry Hogan has also tightened restrictions. The latest guidelines are posted on this policies page on the coronavirus website.
Please represent Loyola well in your off-campus behaviors and know that by making smart decisions, you can keep yourself healthy, benefit your community, and help position Loyola for a successful spring semester.
Please do all you can to stay well, knowing how much we want to enjoy a healthy semester together in the spring, and know you and your family are in my prayers.
Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J.