Dear Undergraduate, Graduate, and Professional Students,
I wish everyone the blessings and joy of the Easter season, a time to celebrate hope in the promise of resurrection.
We are excited about the opportunity to provide vaccines for our students at our on-campus vaccination site at the Compton Family Ice Arena, and to begin administering vaccines on Thursday, April 8. The site is primarily for you, our students, though we will also be able to accommodate some faculty and staff for whom it would be a challenge to access another site. We are grateful to Governor Holcomb and to the Indiana Department of Health for providing a sufficient supply of the Pfizer vaccine to fully vaccinate all our students with the required two doses.
You recently received an email inviting you to schedule your vaccination appointment. We strongly encourage every student who has not yet been vaccinated to take advantage of this opportunity. We urge you to do this not only for your own health and safety, but for the protection of our entire university community, our local community, and your families and home communities as we approach summer.
Having consulted with health officials, I am pleased to announce that once a sufficient proportion of our student body is vaccinated we can consider relaxing some of our health protocols that have been in place this semester. The vaccine does not reach its maximum effectiveness until about two weeks after administration of the second dose, and both doses are required for someone to be deemed fully vaccinated. However, we believe we can begin to phase in some easing of our COVID protocols as we move through the vaccination process. More specifically, if 90% of our students have had at least the first vaccination dose, we plan to take steps such as the following:
- Allow inter-hall visits in our residence hall common lounges
- Raise the maximum number at informal gatherings outdoors from 10 to 25
- Eliminate the requirement to wear masks outdoors on campus for gatherings of 25 or less
- Restore some outdoor recreational opportunities, such as basketball and volleyball
We will consider instituting these changes one week after the final day of the first round of vaccinations. We will continue to require you to follow all of our other health and safety protocols, which include mandatory weekly surveillance testing for undergraduates and professional students, masking indoors (including in the classroom), maintaining physical distancing, and completing the Daily Health Check.
If 90% of our student population becomes fully vaccinated after a second shot, we plan to take further steps, such as the following:
- Dispensing with weekly surveillance testing for those who have been fully vaccinated
- Not requiring those fully vaccinated to go through exit testing before leaving at the end of the semester
- Providing more outdoor activities for our graduates as we move toward Senior Week and Commencement weekend
As has been true throughout the pandemic, we may need to adjust these plans if local or national conditions warrant, but I wanted to share with you what we plan to do over these next weeks, assuming a high level of participation in the vaccination program.
Again, I urge every student to take advantage of our on-campus site to be vaccinated. It will allow us to keep our community safe, end the semester well and bring us a few steps closer to normalcy.
In Notre Dame,
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.