Loyola University Chicago is walking back its initial plan to offer a mix of in-person and online classes this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a letter to students and faculty Monday, University President Jo Ann Rooney and Provost Noberto Grzywacz said most classes would be offered online this fall, limiting in-person courses to labs, experiential learning classes and research.
“As COVID-19 infection rates and deaths continue to increase across numerous states, we share the concerns of faculty, staff and broader community,” Rooney said in the letter. “Therefore, we have decided that the best plan for the upcoming fall semester is to shift most of our class offerings online.”
More than 200 faculty and staff signed a petition last week asking administration for the right to choose if they want to teach online or in-person.
Faculty groups released a joint statement commending the university’s leadership.
“We are gratified by today’s announcement and believe that moving most instruction online will best protect the health of the Loyola and broader Chicago communities,” the groups Faculty Forward Loyola, American Association of University Professors Loyola Chapter and Loyola Graduate Workers Union said in the statement.
Loyola administration said they will still provide in-person instruction to international students after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said last week all international students must take at least one partially in-person class to remain in the country during the fall semester. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have filed a lawsuit challenging that rule, and multiple universities in the Chicago area have signed on to an amicus brief in support.
Some universities located in downtown Chicago, including National Louis and City Colleges of Chicago, have elected to hold the majority of classes online this fall due to tight quarters. Others, including DePaul University and Northwestern University, are still planning to offer some classes in-person.
Students at Loyola will still be able to live on campus in single occupancy dorm rooms. But with classes mostly online, it’s unclear if students will pay to return if they are taking classes from their dorms.
Grace Reilly, a rising sophomore, said via email she was still processing the announcement.
“I was planning on living on campus, but now that classes are mostly online I could save money by staying home,”said Reilly, who lives with her family in Michigan. “I have a tough decision to make and am not sure what is best for my education. Let alone, my health.”
The university said it also will offer frequent COVID-19 testing and use contact tracing to monitor any cases on campus, as well as other basic safety precautions to reduce contact between those who are living or working on campus.