Protecting students when campus reopens in the fall

Posted at 9:39 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-20 23:38:38-04

BALTIMORE — In a few months the Loyola University of Maryland campus will come alive again. Life on campus will be very different than when the students left.

University President Brian Linnane, S.J., looks forward to the big BBQ party during senior week.

Every year he cheers the soon to be graduates in person, but this year it was online.

“I think the parents understand how much these students miss this and want them to be back here as long as we are doing everything humanly possible to keep them safe,” Linnane, S.J. said.

Around 4,000 undergrads are enrolled at Loyola of Maryland’s Evergreen campus a year.

“About a month ago 15% of college age students said they weren’t going to come to college and now its 2%,” said Linnane, S.J. “Certainly for our upper class students in the sophomore, junior, senior year they realize what they are missing.”

The spring semester continued virtually after COVID-19 concerns shut down the campus.

Everybody wants to get back to in-person learning.

“I believe the sustained interaction of an academic community over 4 years really makes the Loyola difference,” said Linnane, S.J. “Folks develop intellectually and personally in ways you can’t replicate online.”

The president said operation, academic and Medicaid committees are meeting almost daily to figure out how it will work

The plan is a moving target. Right now, they don’t plan on increasing food or housing costs.

“Will we put one student into a room? How will we handle dining? Right now you can show up whenever you want, maybe we will have to schedule it. Students have a slot between 4:30-5:15 5:15 and 5:30 that kind of thing.”

Students would be broken up into groups of ten or less with a camera on the professor in the class, rotating groups online and in-person.

“The idea is that some students can’t come to campus so we’re going to have to accommodate a wider variety of needs here next semester than we ever have before,” said JP Krahel.

Krahel is an Associate Professor of Accounting at Loyola.

He hopes the new protocols gives students a life lesson on how to handle crisis situations.

“We have really been trying to maintain the connection. Students come to Loyola because they like the connection. I work at Loyola because I like the connection. To miss the that kind of eye to eye sort of thing hurts.”

They are seeking out enough tests to check students when they come back and twice a month after that.

“We will also have a quarantine space. The question is if somebody gets the virus what do we do?” Said Linnane, S.J. “Our thought is it probably isn’t the best idea for them to travel to their home and that we should take care of them.”

A calming quite on a campus eager to get back to buzz of busy students.

The deadline to declare was moved to June 1.

About 900 of the 1200 available spots are filled so far. The plan is to reopen the fall semester August 31.