Notre Dame suspending in-person classes for two weeks due to COVID-19 outbreak

(Photo supplied/University of Notre Dame video capture)

In-person classes for the University’s nearly 12,000 students are suspended, effective Wednesday, Aug. 19, replaced by remote instruction only for the next two weeks because positive rates for the coronavirus continue to climb.

The University of Notre Dame released the following information on Tuesday, Aug. 18:

“With the advice and encouragement of Dr. Mark Fox of the St. Joseph County Health Department, we believe we can take steps short of sending students home for remote instruction, at least for the time being, while still protecting the health and safety of the campus community,” Father Jenkins told students in a virtual meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

“The virus is a formidable foe,” Father Jenkins said in announcing enhanced testing for students experiencing symptoms and surveillance testing for those without symptoms. “For the past week, it has been winning. Let us as the Fighting Irish join together to contain it.”

Since classes resumed Aug. 10, Notre Dame has recorded a steady increase in positive rates among students, mainly seniors living off-campus. As of noon today, 147 people have tested positive among the 927 tested since Aug. 3. None was hospitalized, and all but one — a staff member — were students. Most resided off-campus, linked to off-campus gatherings where neither masks were worn nor physical distancing observed.

“Our contact-tracing analysis indicates that most infections are coming from off-campus gatherings,” Father Jenkins said. “Students infected at those gathering passed it on to others, who in turn have passed the virus on to others, resulting in the positive cases we have seen.”

Father Jenkins also asked students to help in identifying others who have been flagrantly violating safety protocols. “For your sake and the sake of our community and for continuing our semester on campus, please observe health protocols and avoid behavior that puts yourself or others at risk,” Father Jenkins said.

The University also announced these measures:

  • Until further notice, off-campus students should not visit campus. On-campus students should refrain from leaving campus except under emergency circumstances. 
  • Student gatherings off or on campus are restricted to 10 people or fewer.
  • All research laboratories, core facilities and libraries remain open to graduate students, faculty and staff.
  • The COVID-19 Response Unit, the University Testing Center and Notre Dame’s quarantine and isolation facilities will remain fully operational.
  • All students, faculty and staff are reminded to complete their daily health checks.
  • Varsity athletic teams that are subject to routine surveillance testing may continue to gather for sanctioned activities according to established protocols and will be closely monitored. 

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