As the end of the semester approaches, professionals across the University are planning for a fully in-person Spring 2022 semester. We are navigating the pandemic with a focus on the health and safety of our community and a commitment to providing an exceptional Jesuit, liberal arts education.
We are, of course, monitoring news of the omicron variant, recognizing we have a solid plan as a university and a community committed to health and safety.
COVID-19 Operations Plan
Our plan for the Spring 2022 semester will follow our Fall 2021 COVID Operations Plan with a few updates and amendments:
COVID Booster Requirement
COVID-19 vaccine boosters are required for all students participating in in-person classes or activities and all faculty, staff, and administrators, with the exception of those who have a medical or religious exemption approved by the University.
Students should upload proof of the booster vaccine to the Loyola Student Health Portal by Jan. 31, 2022. I encourage you not to wait if you are eligible for your booster sooner. If you will not be eligible in time to meet that deadline, please receive your booster as soon as you are eligible and then submit documentation to the Loyola Student Health Portal. Student Health Services will reach out to you via email if you are not in compliance.
This decision follows the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that all adults 18 and older get a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.
The CDC advises that if your original vaccine was mRNA-based, you should receive a booster of either mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) six months after your second dose. If your original vaccine was viral vector-based (Johnson & Johnson), you should receive a booster of either mRNA or viral vector vaccine two months after your initial vaccine.
Student Health Services is partnering with Giant to offer booster vaccine clinics on the Evergreen campus. All of the appointments were taken quickly for both our first clinics. We will work to offer more opportunities for members of our community to make it convenient for everyone to receive their booster shots. If you are eligible, please consider getting your booster over the Christmas break.
If you have questions about your eligibility, reach out to Student Health Services at firstname.lastname@example.org. New incoming students should coordinate these requirements with Student Health Services.
Start of the Spring 2022 Semester
Proof of Negative COVID Test: All undergraduate students—residential, off-campus residents, and commuters—are required to provide proof of a negative test prior to returning to campus in January. This will put us in the best position for a healthy and successful Spring 2022 semester.
The results of rapid and home tests will be accepted, but they must have been administered within 48 hours of your arrival on campus for move-in or for the start of classes. PCR tests must have been administered within seven days of your return. Proof of tests should be submitted through the Loyola Student Health Portal before students return to campus whether for move-in or for the start of classes. Student-athletes who are returning prior to Jan. 16 should contact their coaches for additional information.
Start Smart: For the first two weeks of the semester, which begins on Tuesday, Jan. 18, we will participate in a “Start Smart” period. During this time, classes and activities will be held in-person, both served and prepackaged meals will be available in designated dining spaces, and masks will be required everywhere indoors (except in personal residential spaces). We will not permit food at large-scale, in-person events during the “Start Smart” period, and there will be no eating in Reitz Arena.
Surveillance Testing: During those first two weeks of the semester, we will increase surveillance testing of vaccinated members of our community. All those with exemptions from vaccinations will continue to be tested weekly through the semester.
Indoor Masking: Indoor masking is required until further notice. Masks will be required everywhere indoors except while eating in designated dining areas. Please remember to wear your mask on all shuttles during the entirety of your ride. If Baltimore City lifts the current indoor mask mandate, Loyola would consider campus metrics—the number of students in isolation, transmission rates among students, etc.—before determining whether to lift the indoor mask mandate on Loyola’s campuses.
Recognizing that we are no longer managing a crisis, but rather shifting to more of a maintenance approach for COVID, we will update the COVID dashboard only twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays. We reserve the right to return to more frequent updates as needed. As always, if the University’s COVID status is particularly concerning, we will communicate that information swiftly, clearly, and directly.
Commencement and Spring Final Exams
We have notified our seniors, their families, and graduate students that we are changing the date of the 2022 Commencement from May 21 to May 14. Royal Farms Arena, where we had planned to hold it, is unavailable due to construction, so we have booked M&T Bank Stadium for May 14. We are thrilled to be able to celebrate the Class of 2022 in that beautiful venue, which also offers additional flexibility if COVID-19 guidelines change.
That change to the Commencement date means we are changing the final exam schedule very slightly. Exams will run from Thursday, May 5, through Thursday, May 12, and we have added a final time on Saturday, May 7.
Our graduating seniors will need to move out of the residence halls by 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 14. Undergraduate students will need to move out by 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 14. The office of student life will communicate end-of-semester move-out details in April.
Incoming President Terry Sawyer and our entire community are so excited to celebrate the Class of 2022 throughout the spring semester.
Let’s finish the semester strong, with a continued commitment to staying healthy. Know that the faculty, staff, and administrators are all cheering you on in your work. Good luck with your final exams and projects. I hope you are proud of all you are achieving and know that we are here to support you along the way.
Amanda M. Thomas, Ph.D.