Loyola joins a growing list of colleges around the country to shutter face-to-face class and move to all online instruction and requiring all students living on-campus in residence halls to move out by March 19, an email from the office of the president said.
COVID-19 — the disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus — was recently declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the number of cases around the world continues to grow. While there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus at Loyola, the move to online classes and the closing of dorms was decided to help reduce spread, the email said.
Though current online classes will continue, classes are canceled as of Friday as the all online formatting will be complete by no later than March 23, according to the email. Final exams will “be handled remotely according to the regularly scheduled exam period,” the email said.
Students living on-campus in residence halls are being told to leave campus “as soon as possible and go home for the semester,” with residence halls closing at 5 p.m. March 19.
Exceptions will be handled on a case-to-case basis and include exceptions for international students, students whose homes are in areas significantly affected by COVID-19, students with no homes or unsafe homes and those with an internship or in-person requirement for graduation this May, another email sent by Loyola’s Department of Residence Life said.
Loyola is also planning to refund a portion of the room and board costs for students, a separate email said.
Loyola’s Director of Communications Anna Rozenich didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on how the university will handle the transition. Deb Schmidt-Rogers, assistant vice president and director of residence life, also wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Those remaining on campus should expect to move to a different dorm and have limited access to dining halls and other services, the email said.
All students studying abroad are being asked to return home and all international summer programs are suspended as well.
Loyola sophomore Yuki Thit — a neuroscience major — said the decision came as a shock to her.
“I didn’t make any plans to move out this soon,” the 20-year-old said. “I was lucky enough my friend reserved a storage locker that I’m sharing.”
Thit, who is from Nebraska, said she’s worried about how her classes — such as chemistry labs or guitar class — will transfer online.
Thit said she thinks it was the right call to switch to online classes but isn’t sure how effective it’ll be.
“I know some schools only switched to online for a few weeks, I don’t think [Loyola] should’ve done online for the rest of the semester,” Thit said. “But I think it’s better to be cautious.”
Other students, like first-year Gavin Schreier — who uses they/them pronouns — said going back home feels like losing their independence.
“I’ve had to take on responsibilities I’ve never had to worry about before and while it’s been a challenge I’ve loved it,” the 19-year-old political science major said. “Living in the dorms has really helped me socialize with everyone and having that get cut short isn’t fun.”
Schreier also said going home means giving up part of their identity.
“I also can’t really be out and proud when I’m living in my parent’s house,” they said. “I can’t be Gavin anymore.”
Other Chicago-area schools, such as Northwestern University, DePaul University and the University of Chicago recently made similar announcements. Illinois currently has 25 cases of COVID-19, The Phoenix reported.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.