As of Friday, Jan. 21, only about 66% of students expected to return to on-campus living had checked in to their residence halls, according to university officials.
Loyola announced Jan. 6 most classes would be moved online until Jan. 31, due to increased numbers of COVID-19 cases, The Phoenix reported. Returning residents were required to show proof of a negative test for the virus within 48 hours of moving back into their rooms.
Deb Schmidt-Rogers, director of Residence Life, explained it was difficult for the department to estimate the exact number of students they expected to move in before classes started.
“Unlike our fall move-in, where we individually check-in every student upon arrival, we do a mass check-in of residents during the spring term,” Schmidt-Rogers said. “We did an unofficial count [Jan. 16] when the residence halls opened.”
Residence Life came up with their figure of moved-in students by tracking ID usage on campus, Schmidt-Rogers explained.
Students didn’t have to notify the university if they intended on staying home for the first two weeks of the spring semester and students who remain at home won’t receive an adjustment on their room and board charges, Schmidt-Rogers said.
There were additional front desk staff to help residents and check their Loyola Health apps to verify their negative test status as students move in, according to Schmidt-Rogers.
“Some students had tested but did not receive their results until they were back on campus,” she said. “If they received a positive test they would have been relocated to St. Louis Hall or been instructed to isolate in place.”
Residence Life will be hosting “virtual program opportunities” to accommodate remote students while the university operates online, Schmidt-Rogers said.
One student who decided to remain at home while classes are conducted online was first-year student George Troyer.
“I wanted to be able to cook my own meals, to not have to stay cramped up in my dorm with my roommate while we simultaneously take online classes, and also partially to avoid the brutal early winter Chicago has,” said Troyer, whose major is undecided.
Similar to Troyer, sophomore political science and global studies major Annabeth Walsh chose to stay at home because she didn’t see a point in coming back when she could do her classes at home. She also wanted to avoid a potential spike in cases as students returned to campus.
“Fortunately, because I stayed home, I was able to continue working at the same place I had over winter break,” Walsh, 19, said. “However, because I didn’t anticipate going back online, I didn’t bring all of my materials home that I need, so I need to go back a week earlier than I was planning to.”
Despite the online environment, first-year Riley O’Boyle decided to come back to campus at the start of the semester.
“I love the campus, being in the city, and getting to see my friends,” O’Boyle said. “I also love the freedom that goes along with being on campus.”