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Loyola's move-in day unusually quiet as students adjust to the 'new normal'

“We know that this year is going to be different and we put a lot of policies and practices into place..."

NEW ORLEANS — It is a new reality for new students at Loyola University during the pandemic.

“Right now, they’re taking very good precautions, even with move in, they’re making sure the elevators are safe that you practice social distancing,” said Andrea Pacheco.

Pacheco and her parents drove from Florida for freshman move in day, which in the past was a bit of a free-for-all.  To reduce density and ultimately the spread of the Coronavirus, new students received appointment times for their move. 

“It’s definitely a new experience the way everything has been handled, I think the school has been very proactive about providing information to the parents.  All throughout the summer they’ve been informing us about the security measure that they’re taking,” said Mariolga Calderon, Pacheco’s mother. 

Loyola University is executing a detailed plan to safely bring back students to campus while also trying to preserve that unique first-time college experience.

Jamikah Chevis is coming from Houston and says he actually prefers this controlled approach. 

“I actually like it a bit better because it’s more organized, I’m sure it would be more chaotic but now it’s pretty smooth,” Chevis said.   

The students and faculty at Loyola University know they have to be flexible during this pandemic.  The University of North Carolina recently opened, but just switched to online classes when 130 students were diagnosed with COVID-19. 

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“If you’re going to come here and you need to be flexible and knowing the consequences, good or bad, that different things can happen in different situations,” Jamikah Chevis said. 

“Our plan involved as much details as possible knowing that we need to shuffle them around at any given point to adjust to what our students need for their health and safety,” Amy Boyle said.   

Boyle the director of residential life on campus.  She says dorms, classes and cafeteria have been reconfigured to reflect social distancing.  The university is also using an app to help students keep track of their health.  In the event a student contracts COVID, there’s a designated area for quarantine. 

“We know that this year is going to be different and we put a lot of policies and practices into place and trained our students, leaders and staff to help model what that looks like,” Boyle said. 

With the new staggered and appointed schedule, move-ins will continue through this week.  Loyola is welcoming a freshman class of 780 students this year. The first year of college is traditionally a year of transition, but for many of freshmen, this may be the year of the unpredictable.