A little over two months ago, practically every college in the country shut its doors amid fears surrounding coronavirus outbreaks. University housing departments evicted on-campus residents. School cafeterias limited operations to takeout or else shut down entirely. Classes went online. Colleges have largely extended this remote learning model to this summer term as well. With the fall semester now looming just three months away, Loyola University New Orleans prepares to make its transition back to on-campus activities. It won't be business as usual.
Local news station WWL reported on the changes. University President Tania Telow outlined the alterations in an email yesterday. It's looking like academic life with quarantine characteristics.
In terms of on-campus housing, priority will go to underclassmen, or freshmen and sophomores. The university is placing limitations on the number and type of rooms available to students. They'll only use singles and doubles of a certain size. In the email, President Telow stresses that custodial staff will be cleaning facilities incessantly.
On-campus essential and recreational services will similarly continue, albeit in a limited capacity. Students on meal plans are to dine in spread out and designated areas, some of which will be open-air. The university is imposing caps on crowd sizes for sporting events.
Class meetings will look different, in order to accommodate social distancing procedures. As it doesn't seem feasible to keep 100 students six feet apart from each other in one room, Loyola is dispensing with the traditional huge lecture classes. The larger, pre-existing courses will be split into smaller, discrete sections. Members belonging to the same section will take turns attending in-person meetings.
A number of the courses aren't transitioning at all, especially ones taught by older professors or those with compromised immune systems. Some of the latter will be online, or at least partially so. The proposed semester is shorter overall. It ends following Thanksgiving break. Students will take their finals at home, as they did this spring.
Loyola's announcement comes at a time when the whole nation seems to be grappling with the balance between public health and pressing business demands. Other higher education institutions, such as Loyola's next-door neighbor Tulane, are known to be weighing similar options.