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In-person Junior Parents Weekend to return with guest vaccination requirement

| Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Notre Dame’s unique Junior Parents Weekend (JPW) is a decades-long tradition that consists of bringing the families of juniors to campus to recognize the students’ accomplishments during their college careers.

After last year’s entirely virtual event, the 2022 weekend is currently on schedule to be held in-person for the class of 2023 — who were first-years when the pandemic began and in-person classes were suspended

However, JPW 2022 has gone through changes in the past several weeks to adjust to the new danger presented by the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The current in-person schedule features reduced events and a vaccination requirement for guests. 

“We are thankful that parents are still able to join us this year on campus even given some of the restrictions,” co-chair of the JPW committee MyKayla Geary said. “We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable JPW experience.” 

Michael Yu | The Observer
Students and family members posed for photos at the JPW Opening Gala in Purcell Pavilion on Friday night, Feb. 17, 2017. Over 3,000 people attended the event, which kicked off the weekend.

The current schedule for JPW spans Friday, Feb. 18 through Sunday, Feb. 20. The signature events scheduled to occur are academic workshops — times where parents meet with professors and leaders of the University’s various colleges — on Saturday, the president’s reception from 4 to 6 p.m. on Saturday and a 10 a.m. Mass on Sunday. 

In years past, the Friday of JPW featured a gala, a president’s dinner on Saturday and a class brunch on Sunday.

JPW co-chair Brent DiBiase said that right before finals week in the fall of 2021, the University made the decision to reduce large gatherings during JPW due to the evolving threat of COVID. As a result, the gala and brunch were removed from the schedule. Additionally, the president’s dinner has become a light reception.

“As of now there’s nothing on Friday night because of COVID being an issue with people being in close proximity and drinking and eating at the gala,” DiBiase said. 

However, he added the committee is working with the University, and it is possible a new event will be planned for Friday. 

In addition to the adjustment of events, JPW is requiring all visitors to provide documentation of their COVID vaccination at the time of registration. Students must have received the booster shot to participate in the in-person festivities. 

Geary said students with a University-approved vaccination exemption are also exempt from the JPW booster requirement. However, guests of JPW will not be granted exemptions.

“[The administration] is going by the latest University COVID guidelines which is how this came about,” Geary said.

The co-chairs said the committee has experienced some resentment from some parents regarding this vaccination requirement; however, DiBiase noted that many are simply grateful that JPW events remain on the schedule.

“I think everyone is just happy in some form that it’s still happening,” DiBiase said. 

Additionally, in accordance with the University’s visitor guidelines, all guests must wear masks while indoors, and visitors to campus are not permitted into the residence halls. 

“We appreciate your understanding and cooperation in helping us to keep our community safe,” the committee says on its website, where information can be found regarding how to register. “Please note that University officials are closely watching the public health environment, in collaboration with local public health officials and we will adjust events (including the possibility of cancellation) if necessary to respond to the needs of our campus.” 

“We’ve had to be very flexible in planning an event with the new rise in COVID cases because of the Omicron variant,” Geary said. 

Junior Piper Shine from Littleton, Colorado, said while she is “glad it is happening,” she doesn’t think JPW will be a big event, as it has been for other classes who were able to experience it before the pandemic.

“With it [being] so limited, the things people look forward to the most aren’t there,” she said, adding the recent cancellations have been confusing to follow. 

As a junior who has experienced numerous changes to the Notre Dame college experience due to the pandemic, Shine said, “it is what it is — I don’t know anything else.” 

Shine said she is glad the University is requiring guests to be vaccinated and said the administration should stand by their decision. 

“It’s a privilege to have the weekend,” she said in regards to pushback against the requirement. 

Several events, including the Mass, will be livestreamed, and several virtual concerts are also planned for the weekend for parents, guardians and family members who cannot attend in person. 

“Last year did teach us it’s possible to welcome people and for families to enjoy JPW even if they aren’t able to come to campus,” Geary said. 

The current deadline to buy tickets is Jan. 31. 

“We are excited to bring it back this year just because the junior class has faced a lot of adversity,” Geary said. “To be able to celebrate the accomplishments and perseverance with our families either in person or virtually is something that’s really special.”

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About Isabella Volmert

Isabella Volmert is a senior majoring in English and minoring in theology and journalism, ethics and democracy at the University of Notre Dame. She served The Observer as assistant managing editor during its 2021-2022 editorial term. Follow her @ivolmertnews for niche Twitter content.

Contact Isabella