Message on reopening the University: Student deferrals, international student considerations

Author: Andy Fuller

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

The dome of the Main Building
Main Building at sunset.

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues:

We know this summer continues to be busy in a unique way, but we hope you are nevertheless finding some time to enjoy our sunny weather. The University now issues a campus-wide newsletter every Thursday afternoon covering a variety of issues related to reopening. From now on, these Tuesday updates will be focused on issues particular to the academic mission of the University.

Thanks to your efforts, we continue to work toward the August 10 start of the semester. Here is the latest.  

Restriction on International Students Taking Courses Online

Last evening, Notre Dame International began contacting international students regarding new State Department guidance, issued late yesterday, that prohibits international students from remaining in the U.S. if they are taking all their courses remotely or online. While our initial assessment indicates minimal effect on Notre Dame students, we are conferring with other universities to ensure we are interpreting the guidance correctly. We will provide additional information to you and our students as it becomes available.

Dual-Mode Technology by Classroom

The OIT has published a list of Registrar-controlled classrooms and non-traditional classroom spaces that specifies the instruction technology available in each. Here is a link to the classroom technology setups for classrooms controlled by the Registrar. We expect information about the instructional technologies available in department-controlled classrooms to be available later this week.  

Research Labs Moving to Phase 3 Next Week

Starting Monday, July 13, research laboratories will move from Phase 2 to Phase 3, meaning that labs will gradually increase their capacity. Moving ahead in mid-July allows us to adopt the new practices before students arrive for fall. Walk-through compliance checks during Phase 2 indicated high compliance; infractions were few and quickly corrected. Phase 3 will allow increased density while maintaining 6-foot physical distancing requirements up to a maximum of 50 percent capacity. The move to Phase 3 will require graduate students to begin applying for accommodations if they are unable to be physically present in their labs.

Notre Dame Community Health Dashboard

Several colleagues have asked about whether the University plans to provide a public community health dashboard. This requires us to: 1) determine how the software system that supports our daily health check, testing center, and contact tracing can feed data seamlessly to a dashboard; 2) work through a series of privacy concerns as we determine the elements of the dashboard; 3) work collaboratively with the health department to ensure that officials there are confident that whatever dashboard we deploy is viewed as supportive of their overall efforts; and 4) consult with faculty with expertise in relevant areas before finalizing the dashboard. We do plan to have a dashboard and will provide information to the full campus community as plans evolve.

Student Deferrals and Remote Instruction 

For the past several weeks, the Academic Reopening Subcommittee, in partnership with the Division of Student Affairs and others, has been discussing how to address the concerns of students who for various reasons are unable to attend classes in person during the fall semester. Recommendations from this collective effort were recently adopted in a new policy for student accommodations. Any student requesting to take courses remotely should contact the Sara Bea Center for Student Accessibility Services. Advisors at the center will work individually and iteratively with students and their colleges or schools to arrive at reasonable accommodations. Given the University’s emphasis on holistic formation, fully remote instruction will not be offered to first-year undergraduate students, but these students will be able to defer their matriculation until Fall 2021.

International Graduate and Professional Students 

Due to the backlog in processing student visas for entry into the U.S., we know that many new and some continuing international graduate students will be unable to arrive in time to start their courses in person. Processes for handling these situations have been conveyed by the Dean of the Graduate School, Laura Carlson, to department chairs and directors of graduate studies.

Leaves of Absence

The Academic Reopening Committee is currently considering whether the current policy on leaves of absence for undergraduate students should be updated in light of the complications caused by COVID-19. More soon. 

Please know that many people in Facilities Design and Operations, the Office of the Registrar, Student Affairs, OIT, ND Research, ND International, and other offices are continuing to work diligently to help prepare for the fall semester. The work of the faculty and staff is the linchpin to successfully delivering on our educational and research mission. We are grateful for what we know are your substantial efforts.

  • Wear a mask.
  • Practice physical distancing. 
  • Wash your hands often.
  • [And soon] Complete your daily health check.

Yours in Notre Dame,

Marie Lynn Miranda, Provost

Shannon Cullinan, Executive Vice President