In the face of the continuing threat of the novel coronavirus, and to mitigate its impact on campus, University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., announced today a suspension of all in-person classes on campus beginning Monday, March 23, through at least Monday, April 13.
While there are no known cases of coronavirus on the Notre Dame campus, Father Jenkins wrote in a letter to the University community: “I have continued to monitor the quickly evolving situation, and after a great deal of deliberation and consultation with experts, with all members of our community’s health and well-being in mind, I’ve decided that the University will take several steps to reduce the likelihood of transmission of the virus. Although there are currently no reported cases of the coronavirus at Notre Dame, the probability that it will spread to our region is high.”
In addition to canceling in-person classes on campus, the president also suspended all study-abroad programs and is bringing students and U.S.-based faculty and staff home as safely and as soon as possible.
In order to give faculty and students time to adjust to virtual instruction and other alternative learning options, Notre Dame is canceling all classes – in person and online – next week (March 16-20).
Notre Dame currently is on spring break, and students have been strongly encouraged to stay or return home rather than return to campus. Undergraduate residence halls will be open only to students who receive approval to remain on campus.
The University will remain open. “Our employees are essential to ensuring the University is able to maintain operations in a safe and responsible way, and we plan to continue most campus operations as far as possible,” Father Jenkins wrote. He will evaluate by April 3 whether Notre Dame will resume in-person classes after April 13.
Father Jenkins also announced that, effective immediately through April 13, organizers of University-sponsored, in-person events are asked to avoid, if possible, events that bring larger numbers of people together in close proximity. Notre Dame will continue to monitor athletics activities and make decisions in the best interests of our students and fans, in consultation with public health and Atlantic Coast Conference officials.
In addition, Notre Dame-reimbursed international travel is now prohibited through April 13, and all personal international travel is strongly discouraged. During the same period, non-essential, University-sponsored domestic travel will be postponed or canceled unless an exception is granted by a dean or supervisor.
The University has been in discussions with local hospitals, state and county health department officials, as well as its own faculty experts on infectious diseases, to plan for an event in which a student or someone else on campus contracts the virus. First steps would be to quarantine the carrier, deep clean the surfaces and places that he or she touched and pinpoint those individuals who had come in contact with the infected person.
At the direction of Father Jenkins, Provost Thomas G. Burish and Executive Vice President Shannon Cullinan, Notre Dame’s Emergency Policy Committee and Emergency Operations Center Management Team have been examining options and will continue to do so.
Father Jenkins said that, at this point, the University’s commencement weekend May 15 to 17 is still scheduled to be held.
The letter from Father Jenkins to the University community, as well as other Notre Dame news and resources about the coronavirus outbreak is available at here.nd.edu.
“Notre Dame often shines its brightest in times of adversity,” Father Jenkins wrote. “Let us pray for those who are suffering or will suffer from this virus, and that its spread will be contained.”