Notre Dame brings students back to campus, but there’s a catch

It also plans to implement “comprehensive” testing and contact tracing.

Notre Dame’s plan to bring students back to campus involves the elimination of fall break and to end the semester just before Thanksgiving.

The University of Notre Dame has configured a plan for returning to campus for the fall 2020 semester that it believes will mitigate certain risks associated with campus life amid the coronavirus pandemic, but the schedule looks much different than normal. The school announced Monday that in an effort to limit travel to and from campus during the school year, Notre Dame’s new school schedule will have students arrive two weeks earlier than normal, on Aug. 10.

In addition to the early start date, Notre Dame will also do away with its regular fall break in October, allowing the semester to come to a complete close before its normal Thanksgiving break. This allows students to complete the term without increasing the risk of spreading the virus by traveling home and back.

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“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,” wrote University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C 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.”

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Notre Dame assured students that school officials “have consulted for months with experts” on the best way to open campus and that, upon their return to campus, students will be subject to “comprehensive testing” for the virus, as well as “contact tracing,” “social distancing and mask requirements,” and “quarantine and isolation protocols.”

This plan includes having already designated quarantine areas for students who have both tested positive and been in “close contact” with those who have tested positive.

“Testing, contact tracing, and the quarantine/isolation protocols will continue throughout the semester and as long as necessary,” said the school.

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