Executive Officers: Spring Semester COVID-19 Protocols Update

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 Members of the Notre Dame Community,

We hope you are enjoying the Winter Break, and we are looking forward to your return to campus.

Given the high transmissibility and rapid spread of the Omicron variant, we write to update you on the University’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, which will take effect on January 1, 2022.

As has been true throughout the pandemic, we are working closely with public health officials and medical experts across the nation, and we remain poised to adapt to changing circumstances as needed. Our goal is to keep everyone in the campus and local communities as safe as possible, especially in the early weeks of the semester when cases of Omicron are expected to peak, while continuing to advance the University’s mission of teaching and inquiry. We are deeply grateful for your generosity, flexibility and compassion throughout the pandemic, and we have confidence in our ability to work together as a community to navigate current challenges. 

Booster Requirement

According to CDC and NIH guidance, a COVID-19 vaccination booster in addition to the original vaccination is the most effective protection against the Omicron variant. As we approach the first day of classes on January 10, please receive a vaccination booster as soon as possible, as it takes 10-14 days for the booster to take full effect. As you know: The deadline for booster verification for all students, faculty, and staff is Friday, January 21. By this date, all Notre Dame community members must have received two shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or a single shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, plus a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna booster (as the CDC has determined these are most effective against the Omicron variant), in order to be considered fully vaccinated

  • To learn about the booster clinics that will take place in January on campus for faculty and staff, please visit here, and for students, please visit here. We urge you to consider these on-campus clinics as a back-up option if you are unable to receive a booster sooner.
  • To upload your booster verification by January 21, please visit here.
  • For information about a booster exemption, including the associated testing and masking requirements, faculty and staff should visit here and students, please visit here. Those who have already received an exemption from the vaccination requirement are exempted from the requirement to receive a booster.

Indoor Masking Requirement

Until 90 percent of the campus community has achieved the full protection of an approved booster—note that full protection is acquired two weeks after an individual receives the booster—students, faculty and staff will be expected to wear masks indoors on campus, except when alone in private offices, or for students, in residence halls.

So that we can assess our progress toward the 90 percent goal, please be sure to upload verification of your booster as soon as possible. With a January 21 deadline for booster verification, we can expect the indoor masking requirement to extend two weeks beyond that date, to February 4. If our campus community is able to reach the goal of 90 percent booster verification before January 21, we can consider lifting the indoor masking requirement sooner, depending on conditions on campus and locally. 

More on masking: 

  • Throughout the Spring Semester, those who are not fully vaccinated—having not received the original vaccine and the booster—will be required to mask indoors and test weekly.
  • The current indoor masking requirement applies in all campus buildings, including in classrooms, laboratories and studios. When the campus-wide masking requirement is lifted, faculty may continue to require students to mask in these instructional spaces.
  • Visitors are required to wear masks inside campus buildings at all times until further notice.
  • While the current masking requirement is in effect, students, faculty and staff are required to wear masks at all times inside South Dining Hall, North Dining Hall, Duncan Student Center, LaFortune and other eateries except when actively eating or drinking.
  • Throughout the semester, we urge anyone experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms to stay at home, call their medical provider, and, as appropriate, get tested. Even if you are negative for COVID, please wear your mask indoors on campus while symptoms persist to avoid spreading illness.
  • Finally, as has been true throughout the pandemic, we strongly encourage anyone who feels more comfortable masking—for any reason and without needing to offer an explanation—to do so.

Testing Protocols

The University will continue to offer COVID testing at the Joyce Center. The hours of the testing center are available here

As was true in the Fall Semester, fully vaccinated individuals will not be subject to mandatory weekly surveillance testing. However, any member of the Notre Dame community who is asked to present for surveillance testing must report as requested. 

Those who are not fully vaccinated are required to report for weekly surveillance testing as outlined here for faculty and staff, and here for students.

Symptomatic testing involves testing those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19. To learn more about COVID symptoms, including those associated with the Omicron variant, please visit this CDC web page. Symptomatic testing is available at the University Testing Center by appointment for students, faculty, and staff. To make an appointment, students should contact UHS at 574-631-7497, and faculty and staff should contact the Notre Dame Wellness Center at 574-631-0050, or seek care from their primary care provider.

For testing sites and appointments available outside of the University, please click here.

Isolation and Quarantine Protocols

Given the recent updated guidance from the CDC and in consultation with public health officials, the University has modified its isolation and quarantine protocols as follows:

  • Fully vaccinated individuals who test positive for COVID will be required to isolate for five days (adjusted from the previous requirement of 10 days). Assuming they are symptom-free, they may return to their normal activities after five days, while masking for an additional five days. For those who are unvaccinated, the protocols can be found here.
  • Fully vaccinated individuals who are deemed close contacts by the University’s contact tracing team no longer need to quarantine but will be required to mask for five days while monitoring for any symptoms, and test on the fifth day. 
  • Those not fully vaccinated who are deemed close contacts will be required to quarantine for five days and will need a negative test before returning to normal activities. More information can be found here.

Gatherings and Events

Until 90 percent of our community achieves full vaccination with a booster and we are able to eliminate the indoor masking requirement, University-sponsored gatherings on or off campus may not include food or drink, and masks must be worn at all times. Venues must also be appropriately sized for the gathering. To learn more, please visit here.

If you have questions about any of these measures, please contact the University’s COVID-19 Hotline at covidresponseunit@nd.edu or 574-634-4373 beginning January 4. 

We realize that many of us are weary of following COVID protocols. Thank you for your continued patience, resilience and fortitude. Given the great progress in the fight against COVID over the past 22 months, we hope that the measures we’ve outlined will be temporary in nature. In the meantime, let’s continue to be generous with one another and do our best to embody the faith, love and kindness that have always characterized our community. 

As we welcome the new year, know that you and your loved ones are in our prayers.

Sincerely,
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President
Christine Maziar, Interim Provost
Shannon Cullinan, Executive Vice President