Provost Burish: letter on summer programming

Note: Dated communications are archived here for reference, but may not reflect the most up-to-date information available.

Dear Members of the Notre Dame Community,

As the profound impacts of the global pandemic continue to unfold and evolve, I hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy.  I am grateful to you for the resilience, creativity, and character you have shown as we navigate these challenging times together.  

My purpose in writing today is to update you on plans for summer education courses and programs hosted on campus.  The health and safety of the entire Notre Dame community remains our highest priority.  Within that context, we seek to advance the University’s mission of education, research, and scholarship over the summer months while taking the necessary steps to resume “normal” campus life in Fall 2020.

A team of colleagues representing many offices across campus worked diligently to review available information on the approximately 140 education programs, typically involving more than 13,000 participants, hosted on our campus during the summer months by 24 different colleges, schools, divisions, offices, and organizations. In their analysis, the cross-functional team considered the health and safety of participants, faculty, staff, and students, as well as our overarching desire to have the campus ready to welcome students back in the fall.  What follows is the approach that will be used to plan for summer programs, with additional guidance to appear under Frequently Asked Questions at coronavirus.nd.edu.

Summer Courses for Notre Dame Students

Those faculty planning to teach courses to Notre Dame students over the summer should be prepared to offer remote instruction for the entirety of their courses.  Many students rely on these courses to fulfill academic requirements.  The deans of the various colleges and schools have been asked to work with faculty to identify those courses that are the highest priority for our students.

In-person class meetings and research for enrolled or matriculating students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels may be a possibility for select programs in the second half of the summer, beginning on July 6.  This would include some of the courses and programs that will begin the summer online.  We will continue to monitor COVID-19 health and safety guidelines and make a decision regarding the second half of the summer by May 15.  Those programs and courses potentially eligible for in-person meetings in the second half of the summer will be notified this week.  We expect special physical distancing requirements may be in effect for any programs on campus in July and August, and we will continue to consult with public health experts to inform our decisions.

On-campus Summer Conferences, Programs, and Camps

We will not be able to offer housing to participants in summer conferences or programs (including non-credit courses) involving non-Notre Dame students or other adults over the summer, nor will the campus dining halls be available to provide meals for these programs.  Depending on whether in-person courses and programs for Notre Dame students are permitted after July 6, some of these other programs and conferences may have access to non-residential on-campus facilities (i.e., classrooms and sports facilities) for day sessions only. 

We will decide whether and how we will allow on-campus sports activities for Notre Dame enrolled students in consultation with public health officials.  We will not offer any on-campus programs for K-12 students this summer, with the possible exception of limited day sports camps in July.  We expect to make all these decisions by May 15.

Off-campus Summer Programs and Courses

As you know, international summer programs have been cancelled.  For domestic programs not taking place on campus, the same guidelines as on-campus programs will be followed.  To ensure the safety of participants, faculty, and staff, off-campus programs and courses require approval from the appropriate dean in collaboration with the University’s Office of General Counsel and Risk Management and Safety.

While these past weeks have been difficult for all of us, the unprecedented challenge we are facing has led to an equally unprecedented and positive response by the entire Notre Dame community.  In spite of the distance that separates us, whether it be six feet or six thousand miles, in many ways students and faculty are learning together collaboratively like never before, supported by staff working on campus and from home.  Because of these extraordinary efforts on behalf of all of you, Notre Dame has been able to maintain the sense of community that makes the University the special place it is.

We all look forward to a time when we can safely be together on campus as a community.  As we begin Holy Week and Easter approaches, let us all keep each other in our thoughts and prayers. 

Yours in Notre Dame,

Tom