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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Reopening Loyola: virtual Town Hall addresses questions and concerns


On May 28, students and families were invited to a virtual Town Hall discussion about the current plans for the fall 2020 semester. Hosted via Zoom by senior vice president, Terry Sawyer, the event welcomed questions submitted earlier in the week as well as others raised during the event. In addition to President Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., other community members formed a panel to address how and why Loyola will look different during the coming semester. 

The following is a summary of each question and answer. 

What if I don’t return to campus in the fall, but I want to continue my Loyola education?

“If you don’t want to return to campus in the fall, but you want to continue your Loyola education, you’ll be able to take your classes online,” Amanda Thomas, provost, said. 

Students planning on pursuing this option should email the Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies at [email protected]. This office will inform the student’s professors of their plans and answer any academic questions.

What will the hybrid classroom look like?

The University cannot allow for all students enrolled in a course to meet at the same time due to social distancing guidelines. Thomas explained that students may be splitting their time between in-person meetings and virtual sessions within any given class. 

“How professors do this will depend on the discipline, and this is just one example of how things might go. No matter what, you will not be in the classroom with all of your classmates at any one time. And during this time, masks are involved, which is the way of life in public places and spaces in the state of Maryland these days,” Thomas said.  

Finalized hybrid settings are still being constructed. Students will be contacted with any changes to their academic schedule when they are available. 

What if I have a medical concern that puts me at increased risk for COVID-19?

“We’re following the CDC guidelines throughout our processes and the different things that we’re putting in place. And they highly recommend that students who have underlying health concerns, or faculty, staff, and administrators who have underlying health concerns, that they protect themselves by not coming back to campus,” Donnie Cook, the vice president for student development, said. 

Cook mentioned that all Loyola services will continue to be offered remotely, including the Counseling Center, Disability Support Services, some student activities, and guidance from professors and other leaders on campus. Should a student decide to stay home for health reasons, Cook reiterated that these offices and people will continue to provide assistance remotely throughout the semester. 

How will the University promote health and wellness in the residence halls?

According to Cook, a committee has already formed to provide health and wellness information in the residence halls. These materials will include how to properly wear a face mask, how to thoroughly wash one’s hands, and how to sanitize common spaces. 

“When the question asks about the University, I hope that if this came from a student, that you were including yourself in this University,” Cook said. “The health and wellness of everyone in the residence halls will depend on everyone who lives there— the professional staff who live there, the students who live there, as well as the great care that our facilities staff will engage in terms of helping to keep the facilities clean.”

How will on-campus gathering spots outside of the classroom, such as the library, be monitored with regards to social distancing? 

Thomas explained that the campus librarians are currently working on plans to maximize their study spaces. Due to the amount of moveable furniture, the University hopes to allow students an on-campus study space that respects social distancing guidelines.

At this time, Baltimore is not allowing for facilities like the Fitness and Aquatic Center to open. Should they reopen during the semester, gym machinery will be more spread out and markings to guide social distancing will be present in the space. These markings will also appear in other places on campus. 

“Even the outdoor paths on the campus will have ways for us to walk in different directions. In the residence halls, you will have different markings for students to not have to walk toward each other, but going in a different direction,” Cook said. 

Will students be able to reside within a suite?

According to Cook, yes. Six feet of distance should be kept between beds in the same room. 

Will you have any testing protocols for campus?

The University is relying on state and city public health departments, governments, and other universities to figure out how to prioritize health and safety at Loyola. Plans for testing are currently in construction. 

“It will involve testing when students arrive to campus, testing when faculty, staff, and administrators arrive to campus after the teleworking we’ve been doing, and then there will be periodic testing after that,” Cook said. 

When these protocols are more finalized, the campus community will be notified. 

Will the housing and roommates we’ve already selected for the fall semester be changing?

“Some of the selections that have occurred will change,” Cook said. “Again, we are in the process of modifying some of the housing. We have to create some isolation spaces. In order to do that, we have to take some rooms offline. We have just various ways and different scenarios that we’re looking at.” 

Students will be notified when this is more finalized. 

How will Loyola address students’ mental and spiritual health during the crisis over the summer and during the school year?

Cook encouraged students to consider seeking remote services from the Counseling Center and other offices, like Campus Ministry. She highlighted their Instagram pages and the updates these offices share via social media. 

Additionally, Linnane mentioned a 5 p.m. Sunday mass being held virtually until churches reopen. More information about this mass can be found here

What are your plans to enhance cleaning protocols in classes and public spaces?

“Environmental services staff will be trained in following CDC guidelines and performing disinfecting in clean spaces for preventative and suspected situations,” Randy Gentzler, vice president for finance, said. “All our restrooms and residence halls will be cleaned and disinfected several times daily. Electrostatic cleaning will also take place in the residence halls.”

Gentzler reiterated that students will be given information on how to properly disinfect spaces in their rooms, as well. 

When can we come get my daughter’s belongings?

The Office of Student Life emailed their final move-out update to students last week. 

More information on Student Life’s move-out process can be found here

What changes might I see in dining facilities this fall and how will you implement social distancing in the dining halls and the student center?

“To reduce the density in our dining spaces this fall, Parkhurst, our dining partner, will be offering more online and mobile ordering, as well as grab and go options. Dining spaces will have one way entering and exiting, self service options will be eliminated, and seating in the food service areas will be cleaned more frequently. No touch-pay options will be put in place, and all Parkhurst employees will be wearing face coverings. Students will also have more opportunities to purchase market items and make food in their rooms,” Mike Mansfield, executive director for financial and auxiliary operations, said. 

According to Mansfield, all dining locations and common spaces in the student center will have reduced seating according to the maximum capacity as informed by the state. Spaces like McGuire Hall will potentially be used to offer more seating that is also distanced. In order to keep six feet of distance while buying meals, markers will also be present at checkout lines and food service areas. 

What does ‘reducing density’ mean, and what might that look like for students who are planning to live on campus?

“Reducing density means that we will be maintaining safe distances, and in order to do that we really have to remind ourselves to do it,” Cook said. 

She mentioned that while it will be difficult to maintain distance, the Loyola community must be in agreement that the situation is serious and requires precaution. Reminders to maintain safety will likely be consistent throughout the fall semester and into the spring. 

When will we hear more information about the CARES Act student disbursements, as many colleges have already disbursed funding to students?

According to the vice president for enrollment, Eric Nichols, Loyola should have the funding finalized within the next few weeks. Individuals will be notified when the information is ready. 

If another outbreak of the virus resurfaces during the fall, what protocols are in place or will be developed to ensure student well-being? 

According to Cook, Loyola has been documenting the virus since January and does not plan to stop at any point in the near future.  

“We’re continuing to follow it. We’re continuing to follow the public health science. We’re continuing to look at the numbers of what is happening, and so, it’s not necessarily that we will be developing new protocols, we will just be tracking,” Cook said. 

Contact tracing will also be conducted and will result in 14-day quarantine periods for those affected. 

“If necessary, we will have to go to all online again,” Cook said. All decisions will be made carefully and with the wellbeing of Loyola community members in mind. 

Will there be any sports and club sports in the fall, and what will that look like?

“What we’re doing right now is we’re leaning on guidance from the NCAA, as well as the Sport Science Institute and club sport conferences. So, we’re also in continual dialogue with our Patriot League colleagues,” Rob Kelly, vice president, said.

According to Kelly, the University will continue to work on plans over the summer for both athletes and spectators. There will be more restrictions than usual, and restrictions will be made by following the CDC and guidelines from health and government officials. 

Will travel outside of campus be restricted?

“One of the things that happened during Spring Break was that students traveled, and when they returned, they had to return home for 14-day quaratines,” Cook said. “So, just know that if students decide to travel, that is probably what we will ask of them again. And it depends on where the travel takes place, but there are just certain ways that we need to protect students and protect everyone involved.” 

Is the University considering the option to begin the fall semester earlier and end during Thanksgiving, as presented by other universities? 

According to Thomas, an alternative to the academic calendar is being considered. Announcements about this potential change should be out in about a week. 

Will there be a robust and serious, dedicated initiative to teach and train each and every student, starting day one, on how to stay healthy?

While Loyola will be conducting their own forms of training, Cook advised students and families that their training should begin in their own homes. 

Linnane also touched upon the University’s work to make Loyola “feel like Loyola.”

“I think that you can be confident that this will be a robust academic experience and a robust developmental experience,” Linnane said. “It will just be different from what went on before, and we hope to return to our traditional ways of doing things or our traditional ways of being innovative. But, we will certainly be very serious around academics once the students return to the University in the fall or the late summer.”

How do you envision move-in day going?

According to Cook, the move-in process will likely begin around Aug. 24. Move-in will take longer than usual in the same way that move-out has been a longer process this semester. 

“You’ll be given a day and a time for the student and one other family member, or whoever is going to help them move in, to come to campus to begin that process,” Cook said.  

More updates will be provided as they come.

What will the fall billing schedule look like?

“Our goal is to have fall bills presented to folks on or around July 1, and this year Loyola is going to take advantage of electronic billing through our student information system, WebAdvisor,” Mansfield said. 

As usual, the due date will likely be Aug. 1. All payment plan options will still be available and the University will work with families as they finalize financial aid and loans.

If I’m not returning until fall of 2021, will Loyola honor my existing scholarship and grant?

Nichols explained that merit-based aid will remain the same as long as the student maintains their academic eligibility. Like any other year, the need-based aid has the potential to shift. 

Can a new student opt for online schooling for the entire fall semester?

Yes. Online-only courses are available to both new and returning students. As Thomas noted, students should contact the Office of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies at [email protected] if they wish to pursue this option. 

Have there been any decisions made about winter or spring sports?

According to Kelly, the University is planning for winter and spring sports as though they will continue in the same way as fall sports. 

“We’re making some changes to the actual schedule because some institutions are saying they might not be there in person, and therefore the athletes will follow what the rest of the school does. But those are other institutions, and so far everyone in the Patriot League, at this point, is planning on being there residentially,” Kelly said. 

Will meal plans still be available? How might they be different?

Yes. Mansfield explained that the same meal plan options will be offered this coming semester. As previously mentioned, the experience in the dining halls will look different, but the plans will remain unchanged. 

When will masks be required and when will they not be?

“They can take them off in their dwellings, but when they’re in the common areas in the residence halls, they need to have the face coverings,” Cook said. “When they’re out and about on campus and common social spaces, they need to have them on then, as well as everyone else on campus.”

If Loyola transitions to online-only instruction due to concerns about COVID-19, will there be adjustments to undergraduate room and board?

According to Gentzler, the same protocol that was followed this past semester will be in place should there be an unplanned closing of campus. 

“We gave resident undergraduate students a partial room and board credit or refund. If you were a senior, you received a refund. If you were a returning student, you received a credit on your student account. If we were to have an emergency, unplanned close situation again in the fall, like last spring, where we asked students to return home and move to a 100% online instruction, we plan to follow the same protocol with respect to room and board charges.”

Should we expect shuttle service to be running as normal?

“We are in the process of looking at the shuttle service and where we can expand it around campus,” Kelly said. “We’re looking at lots of different options in terms of where class is going to be, what the class schedule is going to look like, so it should be more robust. I don’t know what the routes will be. We’re evaluating that right now. But we will have shuttle service.” 

Will there be a parent’s weekend?

According to Cook, the University is still looking into whether or not this is feasible. More information will be provided as it is available. 

In closing, Linnane assured students and families that these questions and concerns will direct the planning process as the University looks toward the fall. He called attention to previous episodes of hardship at Loyola, noting the resilience demonstrated each time. 

“There are many crises in the course of this University’s great history— many points of vulnerability. But the decision has always been made to dig in, to be compassionate, and to enjoy solidarity so that the University comes out of this struggle, or those historical struggles, indeed, stronger,” Linnane said. 

Students and families should continue checking their emails for updates regarding Loyola’s reopening. Additionally, the Loyola community can find more information here and expect updates on this site as the summer progresses. 

Stay up-to-date with The Greyhound for all COVID-19 updates at Loyola.

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Reopening Loyola: virtual Town Hall addresses questions and concerns