We hope you enjoyed a blessed and restful Christmas break with families and loved ones. As we prepare for the start of the spring semester, we write to share several important updates regarding COVID-19 health and safety protocols. As the University’s Executive Officers stated in their Dec. 31 letter, we hope that the following measures will be temporary as we continue to protect against the spread of coronavirus in our campus community and respond to the emergence of the Omicron variant and the constantly evolving nature of the current pandemic. Thank you for your continued patience and resilience in regards to these efforts.
COVID-19 Booster Requirement
In close consultation with national and local medical experts and health officials, we have been actively following the recent situation involving the rapidly spreading Omicron variant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a COVID vaccination booster in addition to the original vaccination is the most effective protection against the Omicron variant. As such, a COVID booster is required of all students - undergraduate, graduate, and professional, including students studying or performing research remotely and/or virtually - and documentation must be recorded no later than Friday, Jan. 21.
In order to be considered fully vaccinated, Notre Dame students must have received two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or a single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, in addition to a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster as the CDC has determined these are the most effective against the Omicron variant. Students who have questions regarding the acceptance of a particular vaccine should contact University Health Services (UHS).
Students who have been fully vaccinated for more than six months with a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or more than two months with a Johnson & Johnson vaccine should receive their booster as soon as possible. Those who have received the booster vaccine at an off-campus location, including the Notre Dame Wellness Center, must upload a picture of their vaccine card to their UHS patient portal. Instructions for uploading booster documentation can be found here.
Students who may not have had access to the booster vaccine over break can do so at the on-campus booster vaccination clinic Tuesday, Jan. 11 through Friday, Jan. 14 inside the Joyce Center. Documentation for those who receive the booster vaccine at the on-campus clinic will be automatically uploaded to the student’s patient portal. Students must register for an appointment at the clinic in advance and can do so here. If you previously scheduled an appointment and have since received the booster, you may cancel your appointment here (simply click “manage appointment” and “cancel appointment”).
Those who have already received an exemption from the COVID vaccine requirement are exempt from the booster requirement and do not need to reapply for a new exemption. Any student who does not already have an exemption but now needs one should email email@example.com no later than Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Students who have an exemption or are granted an exemption from the booster requirement are required to participate in weekly surveillance testing, wear masks when indoors on campus, and, if identified as a close contact, quarantine for five days and test negative before returning to normal activities.
Students who have been vaccinated for COVID for more than six months, have not received an exemption from the booster requirement, and fail to upload documentation for their booster vaccine by the end of the day on Friday, Jan. 21 will be considered noncompliant.
After Jan. 21, noncompliant students will be required to participate in weekly surveillance testing, wear masks when indoors on campus, and quarantine for five days and test negative before returning to normal activities if identified as a close contact. In addition, noncompliant students will be unable to participate in Junior Parents Weekend (JPW) or Senior Week activities, and cannot register for Fall 2022 classes.
Please note that the above guidance for exempt and noncompliant students will apply even after the current mask policy is lifted.
Until 90 percent of the campus community has achieved the full protection of an approved booster vaccine, students, faculty, and staff will be expected to wear masks indoors on campus, except in residence halls or when alone in private offices.
So that we can assess our progress toward the 90 percent goal, please be sure to upload verification of your booster as soon as possible. With a Friday, Jan. 21 deadline for booster verification, we can expect the indoor masking requirement to extend two weeks beyond that date, to Friday, Feb. 4. If our campus community is able to reach the goal of 90 percent booster verification before Jan. 21, we can consider lifting the indoor masking requirement sooner, depending on conditions on campus and locally.
Additional masking guidance for students is as follows:
- The current indoor masking requirement applies in all campus buildings, including classrooms, laboratories, and studios.
- Students do not need to wear masks inside the residence halls unless they are in a group of 25 or more. This would apply most frequently to hall Masses, section meetings, and hall council meetings.
- Notre Dame students who do not live in the same residence hall may socialize without wearing a mask in the halls and each other’s rooms. However, guests in student rooms are limited to no more than four students beyond the total number of residents assigned to a student room or suite.
- Visitors are required to wear masks inside campus buildings, including residence halls, at all times until further notice. During move-in on Sunday, Jan. 9, students may have up to two family members or guests assist them when returning to the residence halls. These visitors must remain masked at all times while in the halls.
- At this time, with the exception of move-in on Sunday, Jan. 9, visitors who are not Notre Dame students, faculty, or staff are not allowed inside residence halls or student rooms.
- Outside the residence halls, students meeting together either one-on-one or in large groups should be masked at all times and use larger spaces to encourage physical distancing.
- Students, faculty, and staff are required to wear masks at all times inside South Dining Hall, North Dining Hall, Duncan Student Center, LaFortune Student Center, and other eateries except when actively eating or drinking.
- All students who feel more comfortable masking for any reason should do so without the need to offer an explanation.
Entry testing will not be required upon students' return to campus from the Christmas holiday.
Students who received an exemption from the vaccination requirement are once again required to report for weekly surveillance testing throughout the spring semester beginning on Monday, Jan. 10. Fall semester appointments will carry over to the spring semester. To change your weekly testing day, visit go.nd.edu/mytestday.
Symptomatic testing is available by appointment only at the University Testing Center. Students experiencing a high fever, difficulty breathing, or a loss of taste or smell should complete the Student Symptomatic Test Request Form to schedule a test at the Testing Center. Students who feel ill more generally (e.g., persistent headache, body aches, sore throat, or fatigue) should call UHS at 574-631-7497.
In accordance with the latest CDC guidance, fully vaccinated students who do not have any symptoms and are identified by a member of the contact tracing team as a close contact of a COVID positive case do not need to quarantine, but will be required to wear masks for five days and take a COVID test on day five.
Those who are either exempt from the vaccination requirement or are not fully vaccinated and are identified by a member of the contact tracing team as a close contact of a COVID positive case will be required to quarantine in one of the University’s quarantine spaces or in their off-campus residences for five days and will need a negative test from the University Testing Center before returning to normal activities.
Also in accordance with new CDC guidance, fully vaccinated individuals who test positive for COVID will be required to isolate at one of the University’s isolation spaces or in their off-campus residences for five days (adjusted from the previous requirement of 10 days). Assuming they are symptom-free, they may return to their normal activities after five days, while masking for an additional five days.
Those who are either exempt from the vaccination requirement or are not fully vaccinated who test positive for COVID will be required to isolate for five days and required to test on day five. Assuming they are symptom-free and the day five test is negative, they may return to their normal activities while masking for the next five days. If the day five test is positive, an additional five days of isolation is required.
Gatherings and Events
Until 90 percent of our community achieves full vaccination with a booster and we are able to eliminate the indoor masking requirement, University-sponsored gatherings on or off campus may not include food or drink, and masks must be worn at all times. Learn more here.
Wherever possible, given the high transmissibility and surge in cases caused by the Omicron variant, University-sponsored travel outside of St. Joseph County should be curtailed. All University-sponsored travel must be approved in advance by the appropriate administrator in order to be eligible for reimbursement. Learn more here.
We continue to work closely with public health experts to monitor conditions on campus, in our region, throughout the nation, and around the world, particularly as they pertain to the Omicron variant. If additional health and safety measures become necessary, we will keep you informed. We hope that as we prioritize vaccination and encourage public health measures, we can prevent outbreaks on campus and significantly reduce the risk of serious illness. If you have questions, please feel free to visit covid.nd.edu or call University Health Services at (574) 631-7497.
We recognize that our response to COVID requires everyone to do their part to remain as safe as possible. As always, thank you for all you have done and will continue to do on behalf of yourselves, one another, and our community. Best wishes for a healthy and successful start to the spring semester.
In Notre Dame,
Fr. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.
Vice President for Student Affairs
Vice President, Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School
Vice President for Campus Safety and University Operations