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Letters to Loyola: I'm So Proud of You

August 25, 2021

Dear Loyola,

I am bursting with pride at what we’ve achieved. As of this morning, 91% of our total population (students, faculty and staff) have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with most fully vaccinated. To break that down further, 90% of full-time employees, including 93% of full-time faculty, have had at least the first dose, as have an extraordinary 92% of students, including 96% of you living in the residence halls.  

We hope to continue climbing, reaching the few of you who have yet to report. (You can do it guys!) We hope that that the FDA’s final approval of the Pfizer vaccine will help reassure some of you who are nervous, as will the greater freedom that vaccine protection gives you to function within the City’s health protocols.

Loyola’s campus is now one of the most vaccinated communities in the state and the region. Our medical advisors tell us that the enormous protection of that vaccination rate, plus our indoor mask mandate (with extra protocols for some of our music programs), means there is very little risk of COVID spread through our normal classroom and campus activities. We did so very well last year, and we know that vaccines will help us do even better.

New Orleans itself has reached 63% of adults who have had at least one dose of vaccine, and as we watch closely, we hope and pray that we’re beginning to see the end of the surge in our region.

We know that we’re playing a long game here – a marathon that has exhausted us all. For students, please remember that many of your faculty and staff (and indeed some of you) are worried about our own children too young to be vaccinated, the juggle of quarantined kindergarten classes or vulnerable family members. We are grateful for the patience and support that you have shown us throughout this ordeal. Together, we all have learned the skills necessary to pivot, quickly, no matter what comes, and to be there for each other.

Our public health team has been nothing short of heroic, and we all owe them thanks, flowers, casseroles, and a moment to breathe. You’ve directed thousands of questions to covid@loyno.edu. Today, let’s send them our gratitude.

I also want to thank every one of you who helped protect our community by getting vaccinated. You dug into the science, talked to your doctors, thought about moral choices, conquered your anxieties, and took an important step to tame this pandemic. We also know that the few of you who opted out have complicated reasons of your own, ranging from very specific health concerns to strong philosophical beliefs. We respect you and will work hard to keep you safe (though it’s our right to continue to worry about your safety, because we care about you).

For a century, Loyola has weathered fires and hurricanes, two world wars and the 1918 pandemic. Through this last year and a half, your determination and courage now stands as one more layer of those red bricks holding up this university, one more story our grandchildren will tell.

Prayers and blessings,

Tania Tetlow