Provost Miranda and EVP Cullinan: Spring Update #2

Author: John Slott

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

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Dear Colleagues:

This week, students will begin arriving in large numbers, bringing our quiet, snow-covered campus back to life for the spring semester. We thank those who are supporting the return-to-campus efforts in so many different ways, as well as the many who sustained our operations while the students were away, supported the pilot Winter Session, and all who are working tirelessly to prepare us for success this spring. Here are some updates as the start of classes draws near.

Travel, gatherings, and campus visitor policies

As you know, we eased restrictions on travel over the winter break. By now, those of you who traveled outside our region and who work on campus should be back in the area and taking part in surveillance testing, or otherwise be following guidance from your healthcare provider regarding any precautions related to your travels. Starting this week, we are returning to the practices we followed in the fall that limited travel, campus gatherings, and campus visitors. For details on these policies, please see this page on the HERE website.

Daily health checks and bi-weekly surveillance testing

Along with other return-to-campus activities, this week we should all resume completing our daily health checks. They are vitally important to help us identify, analyze, and prevent the spread of the virus within our campus community. Also, as noted in our message last Thursday, we strongly encourage those who will be working on campus two or more days each week to be tested every two weeks as part of our surveillance-testing program. It’s fast and easy, and helps detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.

Revised COVID-19 dashboard

The COVID-19 dashboard is back online and actively reporting information with several enhancements made during the winter break. The refreshed dashboard features some new terms, definitions, and details to clarify various aspects of our enhanced testing program. Near the bottom of the page, the dashboard includes a link to archived data and information from the fall semester.

Classroom access and assistance

As shared by OIT last week, we encourage faculty members to visit their scheduled classrooms this week to check out the setup and technology available. To avoid conflicts with any ongoing Winter Session course, please use to reserve a time that works for you. Should you have technology related questions or concerns, you can get support by using the classroom phone and its instructions to contact OIT or dial the Classroom Support Line at 574-631-8778 using your mobile phone. Remember to see the Spring 2021 Registrar and Departmental Technology List for the latest classroom information. For those who want assistance, OIT staff members are available for sessions on January 26, 27, 28 and February 1 to provide hands-on, guided help with dual-mode classroom teaching technology. Please use this registration form if you desire assistance.

Child/elder care

To continue providing and encouraging an environment in which staff members can properly care for children or elder family members in their households, full-time regular staff members will have access to up to 10 Child/Elder Care Leave Days. For more information, please see this message from the Office of Human Resources.

Expansion of offerings from TutorND – Virtual tutoring, virtual study hall, fun Fridays

TutorND, a free program that provides 12 weeks of learning and enrichment for children of Notre Dame faculty, staff members, and graduate students, is accepting applications for new students until Friday, January 29. The program provides students with structured, evidence-based programs in math and literacy developed and vetted by Notre Dame faculty members. The program is open to students of all knowledge levels and aims to accelerate learning. This semester two new options are available: a drop-in homework help and Fun Fridays! Information about the success of the fall program is available at NDWorks. For more information on spring session, email the team at: Para Español: 574-631-9432. Special thanks also to IEI, CLAD Lab, RCLC, Office of Public Affairs, DPAC, and OIT for making this program possible.

Community engagement guidelines for spring

During the fall semester, the Community Engagement Coordinating Council developed guidelines for faculty members and programs engaged in what would normally be a wide range of community-based educational and outreach programs. The guidelines are available on the HERE website.

Health and well-being

The fall semester was tough on everyone at Notre Dame – students, faculty, and staff members. And though the spring semester will look and feel much like the fall, we have worked some student break days into the spring calendar on March 2, April 2, and April 21 to give us all brief respites from the pace of the condensed academic calendar.

To make these mini-breaks effective, we need to consider them in our planning. We ask faculty not to schedule exams on the day after any of these mini-breaks. Our aim this semester is to better manage stress across the campus community and afford everyone the opportunity to do their best work. As part of that effort, here are some additional tips to help maintain a positive outlook this semester:

  • Be active outdoors. Don’t let winter keep you inside and immobile – a 15- or 30-minute walk outdoors works wonders.
  • Practice daily gratitude – look for and reward positive things; positive vibes are a good contagion.
  • Support each other – spend a few minutes each day letting someone know you care.
  • Be kind to yourself and others – these are difficult times. It’s normal to feel strong emotions and not always be at your best.

Concluding thoughts

Even with vaccination programs expanding nationally, our campus and the surrounding communities continue to face a significant threat from the COVID-19 pandemic. We remain grateful to all of you for your efforts to provide a home for our students and an environment in which they feel safe and supported in these very challenging times. We are also grateful for your ongoing commitment to the research and knowledge discovery mission of our University.

Please remember:

  • Wear your mask
  • Practice physical distancing
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Complete your daily health check if you are coming to campus
  • Keep your scheduled testing appointments

Please be kind and generous to yourself and others.

Yours in Notre Dame,

Marie Lynn Miranda, Provost

Shannon Cullinan, Executive Vice President