Notre Dame University announced on Monday that it will welcome students back on campus on August 10. That’s two weeks earlier than the fall semester was initially scheduled to begin. In addition, Notre Dame will forgo a fall break in October, and will instead end the semester before Thanksgiving.
After consultation with experts and health officials to develop a plan to ensure the health and safety of all members of the campus community, we will welcome students back to campus for the fall semester the week of August 10: https://t.co/b3aVqc4r39 pic.twitter.com/llm96lzHSI— Notre Dame (@NotreDame) May 18, 2020
In the announcement Notre Dame said they consulted with experts for months to develop their plan to welcome students back onto campus.
The plan to return includes comprehensive COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff. It also includes contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, social distancing and mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning of all campus spaces.
“By far the most complex challenge before us is the return of our students to campus for the resumption of classes in the fall semester,” Notre Dame’s president Rev. John I. Jenkins wrote in a letter to students. “Bringing our students back is in effect assembling a small city of people from many parts of the nation and the world, who may bring with them pathogens to which they have been exposed. We recognize the challenge, but we believe it is one we can meet.”
Father Jenkins also wrote that the university is currently developing a plan to reopen research labs, studios and libraries in coming weeks.
In case of an outbreak, or if the university is unable to provide adequate testing, Notre Dame faculty have been asked to prepare both in-person and remote curricula for their classes. The remote curricula would also help any student keep up with classwork if they need to be quarantined.
The university is also developing criteria to determine whether or not to offer study abroad programs in the fall. That decision will be announced in June.
Notre Dame sent home all students in mid-March to complete their spring semesters remotely. They also canceled all summer classes, except for a small number of students who needed to complete summer work to prepare for the fall semester.