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University announces plans for returning to campus life

| Monday, June 22, 2020

Vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding outlined the policies and procedures established for the transition back on-campus this fall, including new health and safety practices previously announced by University President Fr. John Jenkins, in an email sent to the student body Monday morning.

“The safety of you, our faculty and our staff is our top priority, and what scientists know about transmission of the virus continues to evolve,” Hoffmann Harding said. “We will continually monitor the effectiveness and necessity of our protocols, which were formulated based on guidance from the CDC, infectious disease specialists at the Cleveland Clinic and local health officials.”

Regarding the move-in process and orientation process for new students, students will arrive to campus in stages.

“Residence hall staff will arrive on campus beginning Sunday, July 26 for training,” Hoffmann Harding said. “International students should plan to arrive Saturday, Aug. 1 to participate in orientation with Notre Dame International. The University’s Welcome program for new graduate students will be Monday, Aug. 3 and Tuesday, Aug. 4. New students in our professional programs will receive guidance about orientation programs from their schools.”

In an effort to follow public health recommendations, Welcome Week programs for first-year and transfer students will be offered twice to accommodate smaller group sizes. All students moving in will be required to schedule an appointment time and are allowed two family members or guests to assist with the move-in process. 

Upon move-in, all students will receive a welcome back package which will include a refillable hand disinfectant or sanitizer, thermometer and at least three masks. 

Undergraduate residence halls will operate at standard capacity, though significantly enhanced cleaning and other adjustments in everyday life will be necessary to keep one another safe, Hoffman Harding said. 

“Assigned roommates will be considered a ‘household’ for purposes of contact tracing. Students will not need to wear masks when they are in their assigned rooms, but they must wear masks in all other rooms and common spaces, including hallways and lounges.”

Non-resident students will be able to visit students in the residence halls but will be required to wear masks and observe physical distancing. In addition, hall lounge capacities will be altered to accommodate social distancing, and no guests may stay overnight in residence halls. 

In regard to campus dining, retailers will alter their services to facilitate individual carryout options only. The dining halls will switch to disposable silverware, and “self-service buffets will be replaced with individually portioned, served buffets, and dining capacity will be modified to ensure physical distancing.”

The dining halls will provide Grab and Go options and outdoor dining tents will be available outside North and South Dining Halls. The University will also offer new block plans to all students and more flexible meal plans for on-campus upperclassmen.

Changes made to faith services, such as daily Mass, will be done in accordance with physical distancing measures.

The email also said all members of the Notre Dame community will be required to complete a daily self-screen.

“University Health Services (UHS) clinical staff will reach out to you if the results of your health screen indicate you should be assessed and tested for COVID-19,” Hoffmann Harding said.

In addition, the University will require all students to receive the flu vaccine. While Notre Dame is still finalizing plans for COVID-19 testing, the University expects to have “convenient, free testing available” to all members of the Notre Dame community.

Telehealth or teletherapy options will be available in addition to in-person appointments by UHS and the University Counseling Center.

Off-campus students will complete necessary isolation of quarantine in their homes, but University staff “will check in with these patients daily, provide monitoring supplies and ensure the students have access to a delivery service for groceries, food and supplies.”

For quarantine and isolation space for on-campus students, the University has partnered with three off-campus facilities and reserved space in Fischer Graduate Residencies. UHS providers will determine when students can return to classes.

“These students will also be checked on daily, provided with monitoring supplies and delivered two daily meals prepared by Campus Dining,” Hoffmann Harding said. “All isolated or quarantined students will be referred to Sara Bea Accessibility Services for accommodations and classroom support, including monitoring of exams.”

Hoffmann Harding said all facilities designed for student programs and activities will be open, and enhanced sanitization and disinfection protocols will be put in place. Furniture and capacities may also be adjusted to ensure physical distancing requirements. Student groups are encouraged to utilize outdoor grounds as much as possible, Hoffmann Harding said.

“All outdoor grounds, including Ricci Fields and the West Quad Fields, can be reserved by student groups and may also be used informally by students when there is no prior reservation,” Hoffmann Harding said.

While student clubs and organizations may meet in person if they follow University public health practices, groups may also meet virtually. If student clubs and organizations meet in person, attendance must be taken to allow for contact tracing. 

Hoffmann Harding said there will be limits on travel and visitors as well, preventing student group travel, off-campus events and speakers/performers for in-person events. At this time, Hoffmann Harding said they “do not anticipate permitting group vocal activities indoors, student dances or many contact club or intramural sports.”

Although outdoor choir, musical instrument, dance and theater rehearsals and performances may be an option, Hoffmann Harding said they expect significant restrictions. 

“We are consulting the University’s medical experts, relevant CDC guidelines and relevant professional association guidelines regularly, and we will publish a full set of student club and organization guidelines and protocols throughout the summer and upon your return,” Hoffmann Harding said.

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