Nearly one year ago, Loyola sent its students home and moved classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the university said it plans a full return to in-person learning and on-campus living for the fall 2021 semester.
“We are happy to announce our plan to return fully to our Chicagoland campuses in fall 2021 with in-person classes and residence hall occupancy,” officials said in a March 9 email to the Loyola community. “This decision was based on the best available data and intelligence, and with the health, safety, and overall wellness of our community in mind.”
Loyola credited three factors in the decision to bring students back to campus: its health and safety protocols, declining COVID-19 infection rates and vaccine distribution.
A limited number of Loyola students were welcomed back to on-campus living and 10 percent of classes returned to classrooms during the spring 2021 semester, The Phoenix reported. Students living or learning on campus have been required to participate in twice-weekly saliva-based COVID-19 tests since the start of the semester.
The email, signed by university President Jo Ann Rooney and Provost and Chief Academic Officer Noberto Grzywacz, said the majority of the Loyola community will have the opportunity to be vaccinated by the beginning of the fall 2021 semester, according to federal projections.
President Joe Biden said the U.S. expects to be able to vaccinate all adults in the country by the end of May, the Associated Press reported.
The university is aiming for a traditional campus experience, one that hasn’t been present since the beginning of the spring 2020 semester. This means faculty will teach in-person whenever possible, according to the email.
Courses that were online pre-pandemic and courses that “better serve students in an online format” will stay online, according to the email.
“All of us long to be back on campus and among our colleagues and students, and we believe that fall is the right time for us to regain so much of what was deferred during the pandemic,” the email said. “This will, of course, require all of us—students, faculty, and staff—to stay vigilant as a community and comply with health and safety guidelines.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.