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Loyola scales back plans for reopening campus this fall, will move most classes online

In-person courses this fall will be limited to labs, experiential learning classes and research, according to an email sent to students and faculty Monday.

Loyola University says most of its classes will be online this fall.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Most of Loyola University’s classes this fall will be online, according to an email sent to students, faculty and staff Monday.

The email, sent from university President Jo Ann Rooney and Provost Norberto Grzywacz, announced that in-person classes will only be offered for courses that need face-to-face instruction — things like labs, research and experiential learning classes.

The move represents a scaling back of previous plans. Loyola had earlier announced they would offer a greater mix of online and in-person courses this fall. The university did not respond to questions of what percent of classes will be online this fall.

“Our priority remains the health, safety, and well-being of our Loyola community,” the email said. “As COVID-19 infection rates and deaths continue to increase across numerous states, we share the concerns of our faculty, staff, and broader community.”

Carlos Martinez, a rising senior at Loyola from Little Village, said he wasn’t shocked by the university’s announcement, but after a challenging transition to online classes this spring, he said the fall “won’t be the same” as when classes are in person.

Martinez, 21, has a scholarship that typically secures him on-campus housing. But with the university’s single-occupancy requirement in dorms, Martinez said he isn’t confident there will be housing available for him.

“I understand we need to take care of ourselves and be responsible,” Martinez said. “I’m not getting the full experience of living on campus and being immersed in community. It’s kind of sad.”

Sal Carfagno, a member of the Loyola student government who is from New Jersey, said he found the email upsetting, especially for incoming freshmen and students who scrambled to find living arrangements for the fall. Still, “there’s no college experience if you pass away from coronavirus,” said Carfagno, 20, noting the health and safety of staff and students as the most important consideration.

Studying health care administration, Carfagno said most of his classes rely on group assignments, a task that becomes increasingly challenging as students have to coordinate working online and across timezones.

“There’s people that do well in an online environment,” Carfagno said. “I’m just one of the ones that don’t do well. ... I’m a better hands-on learner. It’s not ideal, but it’s the safest.”

The school also plans to provide in-person courses and research for international students — as well as domestic students. Doing so will permit international students to stay in the U.S. in light of the Trump Administration’s order that international students attending schools that are entirely online can no longer stay in the country.

Students will still be allowed to live in dorms, though the university had previously announced that all rooms will be singles, and the school is working with a nearby Hampton Inn to secure additional rooms to house students. The university also plans to conduct frequent COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Loyola had previously warned that they might move entirely online, depending on how the pandemic evolved.