University offers update on health, safety protocols for fall semester
Observer Staff Report | Friday, August 6, 2021
In an email to the Notre Dame community Friday, University provost Marie Lynn Miranda announced updated health and safety protocols for the fall semester.
“In our planning, we have worked closely with Dr. Mark Fox, deputy health commissioner for St. Joseph County, as well as other public health officials, and have reviewed recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control,” the email said.
Miranda said the protocols were decided upon due to the high vaccination rates among individuals in the campus community and the expectation that these numbers will continue to rise in the coming weeks.
“We are proud — and grateful — that 90% of our community has provided proof of vaccination, and 94% have either provided proof of vaccination or received an exemption,” the email read.
The email noted that the updated policies are subject to change.
“Please remember that with COVID, we must be prepared to adapt and change as circumstances evolve,” Miranda said.
Community members can sign up for a vaccine or upload their vaccination status online. Vaccinations are required for all faculty, staff and students unless given an exemption.
Per a follow-up email from the Division of Student Affairs, “students who do not submit vaccination documentation or receive an exemption will be unable to move into their residence halls or complete the ND Roll Call process to attend classes.”
Masks are optional for fully vaccinated members of the community inside campus buildings, including residence halls. In some buildings, masks will be required for everyone when the space is “generally open to the public.”
A full list of these public spaces — including the Morris Inn, the Eck Visitor Center and the Notre Dame bookstore locations — is available online and is subject to change.
Members of the community who are not fully vaccinated will also be required to wear a mask indoors except when alone in a private room or office, or when eating or drinking.
Masks are not required outdoors.
Miranda said the University encourages individuals to wear masks outside of campus due to lower vaccination rates in St. Joseph County.
“Given that vaccination rates in St. Joseph County are considerably lower than the 90%+ rate on campus, we urge everyone to mask when shopping, dining, or otherwise interacting in the local community, for your own protection and that of our neighbors in the greater Michiana area,” Miranda said.
All visitors, regardless of vaccination status, are expected to wear a mask inside campus buildings except when eating or drinking, Miranda said. At this time, visitors outside the Notre Dame community will not be allowed in residence halls except for move-in.
These visitor policies are in place due to an “inability to verify the vaccination status of those outside our highly vaccinated campus community and … to easily differentiate between those who are immediate members of the Notre Dame community versus visitors.”
Classes will be taught in person. Miranda said masks are not required in classrooms unless a professor asks their students to wear one.
“Faculty may require students to wear masks in their classes, studios, or laboratories. We expect students to be respectful of these arrangements,” Miranda said.
Dual-mode learning will not be used this fall. According to the email, the decision was made because balancing remote and in-person teaching proved challenging and the pandemic “reaffirmed the importance of in-person teaching and learning.”
However, faculty can use “dual delivery or lecture recording technology at their discretion and as needed.”
Students will be expected to follow pre-COVID absence policies.
The fall semester calendar will include a mid-term break from Oct. 16 to Oct. 24 and a Thanksgiving break from Nov. 24 to Nov. 28.
Student activities and buildings
According to the email, in-person student activities will resume without most of the restrictions in place during the 2020-2021 academic year.
All University facilities will operate at their normal capacity. This includes classrooms, laboratories, libraries, common spaces, administrative spaces, residence halls, dining halls and campus retail outlets.
Per the follow-up email from the Division of Student Affairs, Notre Dame students who do not live in the same residence hall will be allowed to socialize in each other’s rooms.
Diagnostic and surveillance testing
If a member of the community shows any flu or cold-like symptoms, they will be expected to wear a mask around campus and seek a COVID diagnostic test as soon as possible regardless of their vaccination status, Miranda said.
The Joyce Center testing site will reopen Aug. 16. Students should call University Health Services (UHS) at 574-631-7497 to schedule an appointment for a diagnostic test.
In addition, weekly surveillance testing will be required for any unvaccinated student, faculty and staff. Students who are unvaccinated must also complete an entry test upon returning to campus.
According to the email from the Division of Student Affairs, community members will be allowed to travel to off-campus locations without pre-approval from UHS.
However, University-related international travel will have to be pre-approved by a vice president or dean and be registered with Notre Dame International. More information about the fall travel policy can be read here.
Editor’s Note: This report has been updated with information about masking policies for visitors and with additional information from a follow-up email, including instructions regarding travel and residence hall visitors.