Dear Members of the Notre Dame Community,
The Notre Dame community is often at its best in times of adversity. I have seen in recent weeks our Emergency Operations Team diligently working, frequently late into the night and on weekends, to enable the University to respond to the current coronavirus epidemic. In these and in all our efforts, our highest priority has been to safeguard the health of members of the Notre Dame community and our neighbors, while doing everything possible to continue our central work of education and research. In coming weeks and months the disruption caused by this epidemic will demand a lot of each of us.
Although there are currently no reported cases of the coronavirus at Notre Dame, the probability that it will spread to our region is high. I have continued to monitor the quickly evolving situation, and after a great deal of deliberation and consultation with experts, with all members of our community’s health and well-being in mind, I’ve decided that the University will take several steps to reduce the likelihood of transmission of the virus.
Beginning Monday, March 23 and continuing through at least April 13, all in-person classes will be suspended, to be replaced with virtual instruction and other alternative learning options. Furthermore, there will be no classes in any format the week of March 15 to allow faculty time to make the adjustment to on-line instruction.
In addition, all University-sponsored study abroad programs are being suspended, with our students and U.S.-based faculty and staff being returned home safely and as soon as possible.
As spring break concludes, students are strongly encouraged to stay or return home rather than return to campus. Beginning at noon on Tuesday, March 17, the undergraduate residence halls will be open only to students who receive approval to remain on campus. For those who must be on campus, the University will remain open and provide essential services. Erin Hoffmann Harding, our Vice President for Student Affairs, will send an email soon with further details about available student services, student support and care, and housing.
Faculty will soon receive an email from Provost Tom Burish addressing a host of academic issues that follow from the decision to cancel all in-person classes. Tom’s letter will include information about on-line course delivery methods and a website that will provide up-to-date information about various academic issues affected by our response to the coronavirus.
Students will hear directly from their respective deans and/or faculty instructors regarding any specific information for their courses.
We will evaluate in coming weeks and communicate with you by April 3 whether we can resume in-person classes after April 13. The official end of the semester remains May 8. We will also continue to inform you regularly about other matters associated with our response to the coronavirus.
We recognize that the steps we are taking are unprecedented and will create inconveniences for all of us. I ask for your patience and understanding as we move forward.
EMPLOYEES AND UNIVERSITY OPERATIONS
Our employees are essential to ensuring the University is able to maintain operations in a safe and responsible way, and we plan to continue most University operations as far as possible. Bob McQuade, Vice President for Human Resources, will soon be sending out an email to all staff to provide additional, more detailed guidance on work-related questions you may have.
UNIVERSITY EVENTS, CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS
Organizers of University-sponsored, in-person events are asked to avoid, if possible, events that bring larger numbers of people together in close proximity. If you are sponsoring or attending such a gathering, please observe the precautionary measures that can be found here.
We will continue to monitor athletic activities and will make decisions in the best interests of our students and our fans, in consultation with public health and Conference officials.
Commencement is still scheduled for the weekend of May 15-17. You will, of course, be informed of any changes.
All University-reimbursed international travel is prohibited effective immediately through April 13. Also, all personal international travel is strongly discouraged. During this same time period, University-reimbursed domestic travel must also be postponed or canceled unless an exception is granted by your dean or supervisor. These restrictions obviously do not apply to University-sponsored travel by Notre Dame community members currently studying or working elsewhere, who are required to return home or to campus.
Health and counseling services are available to all students and employees with concerns about the coronavirus. Those resources and others are enumerated in detail at coronavirus.nd.edu. There, you can also submit questions not yet addressed in the FAQ section.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. Let us pray for those who are suffering or will suffer from this virus, and that its spread will be contained.
In Notre Dame,
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.