CHICAGO (CBS) — Loyola University will have most of its classes online this fall, limiting in-person courses to those that require face-to-face interaction, such as labs, experimental learning, and research.
“Our priority remains the health, safety, and well-being of our Loyola community. This priority is important as we welcome new Ramblers and provide a vibrant academic experience for all students,” Loyola University president Jo Ann Rooney and provost Norberto M. Grzywacz wrote in a letter to students, faculty, and staff on Monday. “As COVID-19 infection rates and deaths continue to increase across numerous states, we share the concerns of our faculty, staff, and broader community.”
While most classes will be held online, the university said it will provide necessary in-person instruction and research opportunities to domestic and international students. The announcement comes a week after the Trump administration unveiled new fall semester rules for foreign students, including a requirement that they take in-person classes to remain in the U.S., a condition that raised concerns as many colleges and universities are planning to use online instruction because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Under the new guidelines by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which oversees the U.S. Student and Exchange Visitor Program, foreigners with F-1 or M-1 visas — which are for academic and vocational international students, respectively — will not be allowed to participate in an entirely online fall semester. Several universities and states have sued the Trump administration to block the new rules.
Loyola University said its faculty and staff will work with students to address their academic needs, and will provide more details on the fall schedule in the coming days.
“In particular, deans and chairs will be working this week to complete the schedule of courses,” the university’s letter stated.
The university previously announced that its residence halls will be limited to single-occupancy in 2020-21, with first-year students given priority for rooms. Loyola also launched a new Return to Campus website, featuring guidelines and protocol to protect students and staff.
University officials said they will conduct frequent testing for COVID-19; implement an extensive contact tracing program; require a minimum of six-foot distancing and face coverings for all faculty and staff; limit gathering spaces such as conference rooms, kitchens, and eating areas; encourage employees to use personal coolers; implement staggered work schedules; reduce in-person class sizes; require students to wear masks and maintaiin social distancing at all times in classrooms; place markers on classroom floors to indicate assigned seats; extend the time between classes to 30 minutes to reduce crowding; conduct frequent cleaning of high-touch and common areas; and ensure hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes are widely available.
“As every corner of the world continues to be challenged by the pandemic, we are called to reimagine and innovate. Foresight and transformation are born within reimagination. We must therefore reimagine how we study, educate, interact, gather, work, and live. And we must reimagine these things together, always with a foundation in our mission of serving humanity through learning, justice, and faith,” university leaders wrote.