Message on Reopening: Testing updates

Author: John Slott

Note: Dated communications are archived here for reference, but may not reflect the most up-to-date information available.

Main Building in June
Golden Dome seen through flowering tree (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Dear Colleagues,

Our first football weekend of 2020 is in the books. Congratulations to the players and coaching staff for their excellent performance on the field – and to the Athletics Department, as well as University Enterprises and Events, Campus Safety and University Operations, and so many other units for their detailed planning and preparations that made it possible for our students, faculty, and staff members to safely enjoy the game. Though at times during the game students could briefly be seen closer together than we would have liked, we were generally pleased with the health and safety protocol compliance throughout the win over Duke.

Here is a brief update:

By the Numbers

For the past week the number of new positive cases remained relatively low. Those of you keeping an eye on the dashboard probably noticed that we did not conduct any surveillance testing on Saturday. However, we did complete more than 300 random surveillance tests on Sunday, which you will see hit the public dashboard tomorrow. This will also be a busy week for testing (see surveillance testing update below). We are watching carefully for any upticks in positive tests resulting from social activities this past weekend.

Surveillance Testing Update

Surveillance testing is going well, and we continue to learn ways to improve it. Thanks to those of you who have provided suggestions. Surveillance testing is mandatory for those selected and, this week, we clarified our message notifications to make this point. We also refined the scheduling process for those selected. Thanks to the great work of the surveillance testing team, we are increasing the number of daily surveillance tests performed starting this week. If you are selected for surveillance testing, please report for testing – and please encourage our students to do the same.

Saliva Testing

For the past two weeks, we have been pilot testing a saliva-based testing method that will allow us to significantly increase the volume of surveillance testing for the entire campus community. Within the next week or so, we will launch this new surveillance-testing program at scale, substantially increasing the likelihood and frequency for each of us to be selected. Much of the pilot testing program’s focus has been on streamlining this testing, and we are hopeful you will find we have made this a quick, easy process.

TutorND – A New Supplemental Learning Program

The University recently created a virtual tutoring program to serve the children of Notre Dame employees. Through structured programs in reading and math and general tutoring help, nearly 150 children will benefit from this free program starting Monday. We expect the program to expand as more people learn about it and take part. Special thanks to the Institute for Educational Initiatives; the Education, Schooling, and Society undergraduate minor; and the Robinson Community Learning Center for their partnership in launching this program. For more information, please email the TutuorND team at:

Closing Thoughts

The coronavirus is unfortunately not the only crisis causing widespread suffering in our country at the moment. We carry in our hearts those displaced by wildfires consuming vast areas in California and Oregon, those in coastal areas dealing with the most active hurricane season in recent memory, and those who continue to suffer racial and social injustices in communities across our nation.

In times such as these, we hope being a part of Notre Dame offers you the fellowship and care we all need. Providing that sense of community was among the primary reasons so many people worked so hard to allow us to resume classes in-person this fall. When Notre Dame comes together, even when physically distanced, we do great things—one of the most important of which is looking after one another.

Please remember: 

  • Wear your mask
  • Practice physical distancing
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Complete your daily health check
  • Show up when selected for surveillance testing

Go Irish!

Marie Lynn Miranda, Provost
Shannon Cullinan, Executive Vice President