Citing growing threats from the coronavirus pandemic, Loyola University Maryland announced Aug. 6 that instruction for undergraduate students will be offered only online for the fall semester. Graduate programs will also be offered mostly online.
“Our carefully researched and well-formulated plans to welcome students in person were predicated on a model that expected COVID-19 to die down over the summer,” Jesuit Father Brian F. Linnane, president, wrote in a message to the Loyola community. “That transition would have given us the opportunity to open the university as scheduled. Unfortunately, the data have proven that did not happen.”
In his letter, Father Linnane said the Baltimore university had anticipated that testing would be more readily available and that “we would have reasonable turnaround times for those tests.”
“Sadly, this is also not the case,” he said. “Tests are not easily available around the country, and local health care organizations have not been able to assure us we could get the results in a timely way. Meanwhile, we see a concerning rise in COVID-19 cases in Maryland, particularly among younger age groups.”
Father Linnane said daily confirmed cases have almost doubled locally from what they were a month ago and are likely to continue to increase.
“Your health and safety and the health and safety of our community are of prime importance,” he said, “and our Catholic tradition calls us to value and protect life.”
In a video message to students, Father Linnane said the decision to keep the campus closed in the fall was a difficult one and he recognizes the pain it will cause. He said resources such as counseling will still be available to students.
In an Aug. 6 letter to Loyola alumni, Colleen Riopko, Loyola’s director of alumni engagement, said the coronavirus pandemic has “severely impacted our students’ opportunity for internships and career networking.” She encouraged alumni to get involved in virtual networking and mentorship.
Riopko also said the university is seeing a “tremendous increase in student financial need” as a result of the pandemic — an increase in need that far outpaces the institutional resources available for financial aid. She encouraged alumni to make gifts to an emergency relief fund to support financial aid for Loyola students.
Email George Matysek at gmatysek@CatholicReview.org
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