Our ongoing response to COVID-19

Author: John Slott

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

Dear Notre Dame Community,

Welcome to the spring semester. As the new term begins, we write to you regarding our ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we all know, the nation is currently experiencing a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases fueled by the omicron variant. We expect the same will be true on our own campus, given national trends and what science tells us about this particular variant. Omicron’s ability to infect even vaccinated populations is well-documented. It is important to note, however, that the symptoms associated with the vast majority of omicron COVID-19 cases tend to be relatively mild, especially for those who have been vaccinated and received a booster. So, while our case numbers shown on the University's COVID-19 dashboard, which will be updated on January 18 due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, will be higher than in the last weeks of the fall semester, we remain an extremely highly vaccinated and soon-to-be highly boosted community.

Vaccines and boosters remain the best tool in the fight against severe illness brought on by COVID-19. This is why it is important for all eligible students, faculty, and staff to receive their vaccination booster as soon as possible. We are proud of the early response to our goal of having 90 percent of our campus community boosted by January 21. To the thousands of you who have already gotten your boosters or have made plans to be boosted, thank you. But we must remain vigilant and ask everyone who has not done so to please get your booster and upload your vaccination information immediately so we can maintain a real-time tally. And, to the many staff, students, and volunteers who have worked tirelessly in University Health Services, the booster clinics, the University Testing Center, contact tracing, and throughout campus, our heartfelt thanks for your vital efforts.

The University continues to be in frequent contact with health officials at various levels to monitor the situation and determine appropriate measures needed to help us work toward the relative sense of normalcy we experienced during the fall semester. We cannot emphasize enough how critical it is for us to have a boosted community (at least 90 percent), but our efforts don’t stop there. We are also implementing:

  • An indoor masking requirement on campus except when alone in a private office or, for students, in the residence halls, until the University achieves a 90 percent rate of booster compliance.
  • Increased testing hours and symptomatic testing capacity at the University Testing Center.
  • revised travel policy regarding University-sponsored travel. While giving managers discretion in terms of individual travel, the policy asks that travel be curtailed, wherever possible, for the time being. University-sponsored group travel is strongly discouraged.

You can find the full list of the protocols and guidelines at covid.nd.edu. Our chief aim is to balance appropriate health measures with the ability to provide a Notre Dame experience that is as enriching and vibrant as possible. Although our aim is to reach the 90 percent threshold and to be able to enjoy a greater sense of normalcy as soon as possible, we remain flexible and will adapt based on the best available data and information. Your collaboration and cooperation are essential, and we are truly grateful for all you are doing.

Because the virus does not differentiate between on-campus and off-campus activities, we need to be vigilant wherever we are. 

Finally, we ask all members of the Notre Dame community to carry on with the same generosity and compassion you have demonstrated over the course of the pandemic. We are mindful of the toll these last two years have taken on all of us. Students have had crucial aspects of the college experience altered or lost. Staff, faculty, and students have had to manage significant disruptions in family life and an extremely fluid situation at work. Your fortitude and resilience will allow all of us to navigate this next stretch of the pandemic successfully. In the meantime, please take care of yourselves and others, and know of our prayers for you and your loved ones.

In Notre Dame,
Christine Maziar, Interim Provost
Shannon Cullinan, Executive Vice President
Fr. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C., Vice President for Student Affairs