Dear Notre Dame undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,
I am heartened our community has successfully flattened the curve of new COVID-19 cases, yet sobered by our earlier swift transmission of the virus. Thank you for everything you have done to make this time of pause successful and safe for our community. Our progress in reducing case numbers demonstrates our collective commitment to remaining on campus together.
We are delighted to resume many campus activities, though we will utilize the phased approach outlined below to provide our reopening with the greatest chance of success.
Classes for graduate and professional students resumed in-person instruction on Monday, Aug. 24. As indicated in Fr. Jenkin’s address and explained in greater detail in a letter from Provost Miranda and EVP Cullinan, we will phase in resumption of in-person undergraduate courses starting Wednesday, Sept. 2.
HEALTH AND SAFETY PRACTICES
- Masks must still be worn on campus at all times and in all places (both outside and inside) except by students in their assigned residence hall rooms or faculty or staff in private offices. It is tempting for any of us to take a break from our masks, especially with our closest friends. Yet, while two parties were indeed an initial source of cases, subsequent spread occurred when students spent time with one another informally without masks. The virus was transmitted through smaller clusters as students travelled unmasked in cars, ate together at restaurants, or visited friends’ apartments without masks. Given this experience, mask wearing adherence is essential to prevent another swift increase in cases.
- Physical distancing should be practiced both inside and outside. I have observed significant improvement in community members distancing on quads during the day, though multiple concerns have been raised about close gatherings after dark - especially in the McGlinn Fields. Outdoor areas will be monitored actively for compliance by ambassadors, hall staff, and NDPD. Persistent violations will be documented and referred to the University conduct process.
- Complete your daily health check – and honestly. The daily health check is critical to identifying new cases quickly, which in turn helps us to contain the virus.
- Show up for surveillance testing. Surveillance testing is another key element to Notre Dame successfully containing the virus.
- Any informal gathering must observe mask wearing, ensure physical distancing, and remains limited to 10 people or fewer. These guidelines extend to gatherings both off and on campus. Formal events planned by University departments or recognized student clubs and organizations may be larger, and will resume in-person engagement as indicated below.
- Students released from isolation or quarantine must still adhere to all University health and safety guidelines. Because this is a novel virus, the potential for and impact of re-infection remains unknown. In fact, there have been documented cases of re-infection. As a result, it is vital all students, whether previously infected or exposed, remain vigilant in following our practices for their own well-being and those around them.
- We should all hold each other accountable. Ask colleagues and classmates to put on their masks or distance themselves. Encourage each other to complete daily health checks and respond positively to surveillance testing requests. You can also report incidents when they occur.
- Duncan Student Center and LaFortune Student Center will return to regular hours on Wednesday, Sept. 2. The Smith Center for Recreational Sports, the Rockne Memorial, and hall fitness rooms will reopen beginning Monday, Sept. 14.
- Retail dining outlets in Duncan Student Center will open on Wednesday, Sept. 2, with ABP and Garbanzo opening Thursday, Sept. 3. Food ordered from these locations as well as Legends, Rohr’s, and retail outlets in LaFortune must be ordered through GrubHub and carried out. Students should still eat exclusively either outside at a strict physical distance or in their residence hall rooms. Thank you for increased adherence to distancing while eating.
- Beginning Wednesday, Sept. 2, Notre Dame students with meal plans can again utilize dining halls at Saint Mary’s College.
UNDERGRADUATE RESIDENCE HALLS
We continue to adapt policies in undergraduate residence halls based on transmission trends and feedback of hall staff and residents.
- No individuals will be allowed in residence halls unless they are assigned a bed or are working in the hall.
- As campus resumes in-person undergraduate instruction next week, up to two additional residents from the same section may gather in another student’s room if all occupants wear masks, distance appropriately, and leave doors open.
- Students should continue to wash or sanitize their hands frequently, especially when they are not in their assigned rooms.
- Rectors, in consultation with their supervisors, have the latitude to recommend further restrictions based on trends within their own communities.
- Mass will continue to be offered as scheduled for residence hall communities and in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart with all health and safety protocols in place.
- We want to do everything possible to foster safe ways for our students to connect with one another. Your programming ideas are welcomed and encouraged! Please contact our Student Activities team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you do not know where to start with an idea.
- Programs planned by University departments may be offered in-person beginning Wednesday, Sept. 2.
- Registered student club, organization, and residence hall events should continue virtual engagement and may resume in-person programs beginning Monday, Sept. 7. Programs must follow all guidelines for student activities.
- The Student Activities Fair will be held from Thursday, Sept. 10 through Sunday, Sept. 13, though new students are welcome to reach out to clubs of interest anytime.
- With the addition of staff, University Health Services (UHS) has been able to respond to all daytime calls or voicemails promptly each day this week. We are so glad we have been able to connect with students who need us, and we thank you for your patience as we added staff to support students.
- The COVID-19 Response Unit (CRU) also added staff to facilitate their regular check-ins with students in isolation and quarantine. We continue to refine the processes associated with testing, contact tracing, and quarantine and isolation so students’ experiences are consistent and clear. I want to thank students again for their graciousness as the University adjusted to the initial surge of cases.
- I also want to remind students about the many resources that exist to support and nurture your emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being. The University Counseling Center recently launched several new workshops and support groups. Additionally, Campus Ministry’s Need to Talk program is open to all students seeking pastoral support, and RecSports offers many free virtual classes to help keep you active. Additional emotional support and well-being resources are available on the HERE website.
Given the encouraging trends achieved this past week, I have renewed hope about the fall semester. Our community is learning more each day about how to prevent and respond to this virus and the needs of our students. We are in this fight together - let us sustain the changes we have made over the past week so we can continue successfully!
In Notre Dame,
Erin Hoffmann Harding
Vice President for Student Affairs