Continuing online operations

Loyola is continuing online operations while we prepare for reopening safely in the fall. Coronavirus resources

Latest Updates

June 23, 2020 

Our faculty, staff and administration have been working diligently all summer to adapt course work, make needed changes and ready our campus for a safe return this fall. We are determined not to let the global pandemic gravely interrupt your dreams or plans for the future.

Many of you have had questions about what the fall semester will look like. Let me address your questions about academics here. 

Class Schedules

Reorganizing academic schedules to ensure as much flexibility and safety as possible in the face of a global pandemic is truly challenging work — and I could not be more grateful to the team in student records, college office staff, deans and our faculty. This summer, we have meticulously reconfigured class options so that, as much as possible, students will be able to continue in courses they chose during registration.

We understand that many of you are eager for a schedule that is final -- and what you see on LORA today reflects our best effort to accurately represent for you the fall schedule as you will live it. (There may still be some changes as we stay up to date with the best state and CDC guidance, but by and large we expect your schedules to look as they do now unless you request changes.) 

In a small number of classes, we are still scheduling first-year students or are hiring an instructor, but for the most part, the information you see on LORA reflects the fact that we have found a way to schedule over 1,000 course sections in classrooms and other spaces that still allow people to socially distance. 

The vast majority of courses this fall (nearly 65 percent) will be held fully in person or designed as HyFlex courses, which means the majority of courses are on ground, in full or in part, but with enough flexibility for those who need to stay off campus to do so.  This will also help us in the event we need to go online for an extended period due to concerns about the coronavirus. 

HyFlex Learning 

We have a new term in our vocabulary at Loyola — “HyFlex,” which stands for hybrid/flexible learning. This format is the best of both worlds — it allows for an on-campus component for those of you who are physically present, while also keeping the community safe by allowing for social distancing in smaller classrooms and allowing for virtual participation for those who need to work from elsewhere. Universities around the world have adopted this approach, and many of our undergraduate courses are designed this way for the fall semester.

A Monday-Wednesday-Friday lecture class may have one-third of the students on each day with students who need accommodations or otherwise need to work remotely participating synchronously from a distance, for example. In another class, the lecture material may be provided online while the class meets in smaller in-person groups to work on projects, have rich discussion with their peers, or otherwise apply their learning in context. These are just two examples of the “HyFlex” design which will ensure we are maintaining required social distancing rules to keep our community healthy while providing excellent instruction.

Virtual Learning

This spring, we loaned many of you hotspots and laptop computers in our efforts to bridge digital inequalities. As we move into the fall semester, we plan for our on-campus computer facilities to remain open with social distancing and we are working to provide even more laptops to loan to students with financial need. If you have the resources, please return to campus with a working laptop. 

We are asking all students to complete a brief survey to tell us more about your technology needs, at home and at school, and about your experience with virtual learning in the spring. We are already upgrading our technology, but the survey asks you to share with us your hopes for your fall semester college experience.

We have scheduled other classes online for two reasons.  First, social distancing means we have had to spread out classes into bigger rooms, which is only possible if we move other courses fully online.  Second, some of our faculty have underlying health conditions that make online teaching far safer as we work to reduce risk and keep our campus open.  

These online courses will come in two formats — asynchronous with no set meeting time (about 10 percent) and synchronous or “live” with a standard meeting time (about 20 percent).  

We have altered the information presented on LORA to make more clear which format a course is offered in. You will be able to see if a course is Online, Online with Standard Meeting Time (Live), HyFlex, or Fully In Person. In addition, more details of how the class will function will be provided in the course syllabus and by your professors. If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach out to your course instructor for more information.

Caring for Our Community

We are ideally striving for our students to have a mix of course selections that provides them a balance between campus life and virtual work. We also must be flexible in providing a safe working environment for faculty and staff who are at increased risk for COVID-19. 

If you are dissatisfied with your schedule as it is, you should work with your academic advisor to ensure one that optimizes your preferred form of learning and takes into account any special constraints you may be facing as a result of the pandemic. Some of you may be looking to move online, others will be wanting more on-ground opportunities. We will do our very best to help you find the schedule that works for you. 

Some of you have inquired — for health reasons and other concerns — whether you may complete the fall semester fully online. We would of course prefer to have each and every one of you back on campus and partaking in our community. But if you believe it most appropriate for you to study from home for the fall semester, we encourage you to work with your academic advisor and the associate dean of your college to construct a schedule that is optimized to ensure you are having the best possible learning experience. We can help you work through any issues you are facing. Your education and wellbeing are our top priority.

Canvas

Our faculty and staff are working hard this summer to design courses in Canvas, our significantly upgraded learning platform, which will replace Blackboard in the fall.  This is a time to make sure we have the best technology. 

Students will be hearing more about the move to Canvas in the coming weeks and we will be providing training and resources to ensure this experience is smooth for you. If you are taking the free Understanding COVID-19 course this summer, you will get a sneak peak at learning in Canvas. Two weeks into implementation, I have heard great reports from faculty on this significant university investment.

Academic Calendar

The semester is not shorter, but on-ground classes will move online after Thanksgiving, with the exam period to follow. This will reduce the risk of transmission in our community that might come from holiday travel and make it more affordable for students to return home once and not twice. Make sure to look at our revised fall calendar. The regular spring semester starts January 15.  

This is a lot of information to digest. This website has been redesigned to share these details and more. We are constantly updating it and hope you will refer to it often. And stay tuned for a message from Chief of Staff Lesli Harris, who will write tomorrow to share more about what we are doing in terms of protecting everyone’s health and safety. 

All my best,

Maria Calzada
 

 

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