Dear Undergraduate and Professional Students,
On behalf of everyone here at the University, we look forward with great anticipation to your return to campus.
Over the Winter Break, the University spent time collecting student feedback about last semester through focus groups, surveys, and conversations. One of the themes that emerged from your feedback was a desire for clarity and transparency, especially in such a rapidly changing environment. We are grateful for the input you provided, which has informed our planning for this semester.
As you know, we face some challenges as we begin the Spring Semester: rising case rates in Indiana and across the nation, the emergence of new, more transmissible variants of the virus, and significant uncertainty regarding the widespread availability of vaccines. Given these realities, our COVID protocols will be more important than ever to protect the health and safety of every member of the Notre Dame and local communities.
Here are some important updates regarding the University’s COVID-19 response:
Testing is a critical component of our COVID response, and the University has put a robust testing program in place for the Spring Semester. Please remember, you are required to report for testing whenever you are scheduled or directed to do so. Here are the different kinds of testing that are part of our testing program:
- Pre-matriculation Testing: You should be registered for pre-matriculation testing. If you have not registered, please do so immediately as those who fail to complete pre-matriculation testing will lose their netID access. As you await your pre-matriculation test results, please avoid contact with others.
- Surveillance Testing: On Wednesday, Feb. 3, the University will begin general surveillance testing. The purpose of surveillance testing is to identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals who could transmit the disease. For the Spring Semester, all undergraduate and professional students must participate in WEEKLY surveillance testing; you will be able to pick your preferred testing day, and the day you pick will become your testing day each week. The University will also continue its supplemental testing approach as we see evidence of any potential clusters or hot spots. With this in mind, some of you may be called to do surveillance testing more than once in any given week. The COVID-19 Response Unit (CRU) will email you additional details regarding surveillance testing procedures tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 22.
- Quarantine and Diagnostic Testing: Quarantine testing refers to the tests required for those in quarantine on Day 4 and Day 7. Diagnostic testing involves testing those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19, or who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive.
To have a successful semester, each of us must take responsibility for adherence to our health and safety protocols and commit to our common goals.
Last fall you completed an online Return to Campus Orientation Program designed to familiarize you with the University’s COVID protocols and, at the end of that training, you affirmed you would comply with the guidelines set forth. As we begin the Spring Semester together, the University has developed a Campus Compact collecting all applicable COVID policies in a single document.
Please note there have been some changes in expectations from the Fall Semester given what we’ve learned and the evolving pandemic. We urge you to read the Compact carefully. Given the potential risks associated with failing to follow health and safety guidelines, the University has also adopted a supplemental Code of Conduct to address violations of the Campus Compact.
Students who matriculate on campus this semester must abide by all provisions of the Campus Compact. Violations of the Compact will be handled through the processes outlined in the addendum to du Lac.
Please note several important aspects of the Compact:
- Students who fail to show up for testing are subject to warnings, probation, and, for repeated failures to show up, dismissal from the University for the semester as outlined in the addendum to du Lac.
- Those who violate quarantine and isolation guidelines are subject to probation or dismissal for the semester.
- Our experience last semester revealed that social gatherings or parties where health and safety protocols are not followed were a significant source of transmission. As a result of this risk, students who host these gatherings will face serious consequences, including dismissal from the University.
- Informal social gatherings on or off-campus may not exceed 10 people, as was true at the end of the Fall Semester.
- Absent extraordinary circumstances, students are expected to remain in the Michiana region until the end of the semester.
As described in the addendum to du Lac, students who violate the Campus Compact will be subject to a new expedited COVID administrative process administered by the Office of Community Standards. This expedited process will allow the University to act swiftly to address COVID violations.
Finally, to come back together safely as a campus community, please be vigilant over the next 10 days. While we hope you continue to enjoy this time with family and friends, we encourage you to follow public health protocols to ensure a smooth return to campus.
While it will be a challenging spring, we all learned a great deal last semester that will help us navigate this semester. Certainly, the effectiveness of the vaccines that have been developed give us hope for the future. In the meantime, let’s continue to demonstrate the extra measure of care, compassion, and generosity these times demand, and take care of ourselves and each other.
In Notre Dame,
Erin Hoffmann Harding
Vice President for Student Affairs
Vice President for Campus Safety and University Operations