NOTRE DAME, Ind. (CBS Chicago/CBS News) — The University of Notre Dame announced Tuesday that it is suspending in-person classes for the next two weeks, as coronavirus cases continue to climb.
Only remote instruction will be available at Notre Dame effective Wednesday, university president the Rev. John Jenkins announced.
“With the advice and encouragement of Dr. Mark Fox of the St. Joseph County Health Department, we believe we can take steps short of sending students home for remote instruction, at least for the time being, while still protecting the health and safety of the campus community,” Father Jenkins told students in a virtual meeting held Tuesday afternoon, according to a news release.
“The virus is a formidable foe,” Father Jenkins continued. “For the past week, it has been winning. Let us as the Fighting Irish join together to contain it.”
Classes resumed at Notre Dame on Monday, Aug. 10, and since then, the university has seen a steady increase in positive COVID-19 infection rates among students – primarily seniors living off campus. As of noon Tuesday, 147 people had tested positive among the 927 tested since Aug. 3.
None was hospitalized. All were students except one staff member.
As of Sunday, there had been only 67 cases.
Notre Dame said Monday that the majority of cases were traced to off-campus party where many students did not wear masks or practice social distancing.
Per university policy, the hosts of the party may have “jeopardize[d] their ability to remain a part of the University community.”
Father Jenkins asked students to help identify others who have been violating safety protocols.
In addition, the university has advised that off-campus students should not be visiting campus until further notice, and on-campus students should not leave campus unless it is an emergency. Student gatherings off campus are restricted to 10 or fewer people.
All research laboratories, core facilities, and libraries will remain open to graduate students, faculty, and staff, and the university’s COVID-19 Response Unit, University Testing Center, and quarantine and isolation facilities will remain in operation.
Varsity athletic teams that are subject to routine surveillance testing may go on gathering for sanctioned activities.
Meanwhile, cases could be even higher than what the university has reported. Students told CBS South Bend affiliate WSBT-TV that the school’s COVID-19 testing program has fallen short of promises made earlier in the summer.