Dear Members of the Notre Dame Community,
Since news of a new coronavirus in China became widely known in January, Notre Dame’s leadership has been working on our response to this worldwide health emergency and making contingency plans for future developments.
As always, our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, both on campus and at our many international sites. With that as our guiding principle, all of the 106 students who were studying in Italy and have now been safely returned to the United States have begun a 14-day regimen of self-isolation, to be followed by clearance from a physician before returning to campus. Notre Dame International, in conjunction with the relevant academic deans, will communicate in coming days with these students about their individual academic continuity plans. Some of those plans will require students to return to Notre Dame. In these cases, the students will be offered on-campus housing (though it likely will not be in their home halls). If a student’s academic continuity plan does not require them to be on campus, they may stay home but still have the option to return.
With spring break beginning this weekend, please consider the following:
- As previously announced, Notre Dame has banned all University-sponsored travel to the four countries the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designated at its highest travel advisory warning, Level 3 — China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran — and continues to strongly recommend against personal travel to those countries.
- Any student, faculty, or staff member who chooses to travel to any of those four countries over spring break will also be required to self-isolate for 14 days and then receive medical clearance from a physician before returning to campus.
- Travel information and health care advice are available in the February 26 message to the University community.
Other important information for your consideration:
- Notre Dame has canceled its 2020 summer programs in China and Italy and will seek alternate options as available for affected students.
- For the safety and well-being of our campus, any visitors or residents from a country that the CDC has placed at a Level 3 warning (or does in the future) must self-isolate for 14 days and present medical clearance from a physician. Because we realize that guest speakers may have been invited from these countries, we encourage hosts to arrange for them to address their audiences via videoconferencing, when possible. This also applies to Notre Dame properties worldwide.
- Notre Dame International has been communicating specifically with all students currently enrolled in study abroad programs, providing them with preventive health, travel, and other information specific to their international setting. Unless the CDC raises the travel advisory warning in those countries to Level 3, study abroad programs will continue as planned.
- Because of the evolving nature of this health emergency, University officials will adjust policies as needed.
Since 2007, Notre Dame has had an Emergency Preparedness Plan in place. As contemplated by the plan’s protocols, the University’s response to the coronavirus (now known as COVID-19) is being led by the Emergency Response Policy Committee, which is chaired by Vice President and General Counsel Marianne Corr and includes President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Provost Tom Burish, Executive Vice President Shannon Cullinan, Vice President and Chief of Staff Ann Firth, and other senior leadership, and is implemented by the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) management team.
The Policy Committee and EOC, the latter drawn from departments across campus, have been closely monitoring COVID-19 developments for the past two months. While there are no reports of the virus in Indiana, the University has worked closely with St. Joseph County and Indiana health department officials to plan to prevent the spread of the virus, care for any member of our community who might test positive for COVID-19, and do everything possible to ensure the health of the campus and greater community. The Policy Committee and EOC are meeting on an ongoing basis to monitor relevant developments and create potential responses on campus and at international sites as this outbreak evolves.
Most recently, the EOC orchestrated the return of our students studying in Italy when the University suspended programming for the remainder of the semester at the Rome Global Gateway after the CDC issued a Level 3 travel warning Friday evening. Words cannot adequately express the appreciation we have for the many people who worked tirelessly to execute on the decision to suspend the programs and bring our students back. Special thanks go to the staff at the Rome Global Gateway; the staffs of Notre Dame International, Student Affairs, Campus Safety, and other departments in the EOC; and Anthony Travel, which, with funding from the University, was able to book individualized travel arrangements for each student in less than 18 hours.
More information about COVID-19 and University policies is available on the websites for University Health Services, the Wellness Center and Notre Dame International. Staff members in those offices are also available for questions and consultation. National resources include the CDC and U.S. Department of State.
As the world continues to grapple with this evolving health crisis, we all surely will experience further disruptions. At Notre Dame, we will do everything we can to minimize those disruptions and provide as safe an environment as possible for all who live, work, teach, learn and visit here. Our prayers are with the tens of thousands worldwide who are suffering, and for the medical professionals who are caring for them.
In Notre Dame,
Paul J. Browne
Vice President for Public Affairs and Communications