While some campuses plan to cancel in-person classes through the fall, students at the University of Notre Dame will return earlier than expected.
Notre Dame plans to bring students back on August 10, two weeks earlier than originally scheduled, said the university’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins.
The school near South Bend, Indiana, will also skip fall break and end the fall semester before Thanksgiving, it announced Monday. Health officials say the US could see a second wave of coronavirus infections in the fall.
Several other universities also plan to scrap fall break and end the semester early, citing the increased risk of sending thousands of students back home and then back to campus.
Notre Dame, which has an enrollment of more than 12,000, sent students home in March to complete the 2019-20 spring semester via remote learning.
Its decision to start fall semester two weeks early was made after lengthy consultations with health officials, Jenkins said.
“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,” Jenkins wrote in a letter to the campus community.
“We recognize the challenge, but we believe it is one we can meet.”
Notre Dame said it will enhance cleaning measures. It also plans to have Covid-19 testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, social distancing rules and mask requirements.
“In the new normal we are facing, we will need to ask everyone to accept some inconveniences and adopt behavioral norms and practices necessary to protect the health of every member of our community,” Jenkins said.
The university said it is ready to “alter plans should a serious outbreak occur, or should it be unable to acquire what is needed for testing.”
“Faculty also have been asked to prepare to offer courses both in person and through remote instruction, the latter of which will allow any student in isolation or quarantine to continue to participate,” the university said.