VP of student affairs Hoffmann Harding: Update on Health and Safety Practices

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

Dear undergraduate, graduate, and professional students,

It has been wonderful to watch campus come alive with more students this week. As we approach our first weekend together, I write with a brief update on our health and safety practices.

  1. Wear a mask.
  2. Observe physical distance.
  3. Wash your hands.
  4. Complete your daily health check.

First and foremost, I have observed students wearing masks universally indoors, at all planned Welcome programs, and at very encouraging rates outdoors. According to a model prepared by our faculty experts, 90% or more adherence to mask wearing makes it highly likely we can complete a successful semester. Please remember to wear your masks indoors and outdoors when you are unable to physically distance from others, and keep up the great work on this crucial health practice.

Our success depends on everyone adopting these practices, so we must hold one another accountable. This starts with grace and understanding, recognizing that these are new habits for all of us. It also involves being an active bystander by kindly reminding your peers to comply. Emphasize that adopting these practices protects us all. Any member of the campus community can also share concerns about individuals engaged in unsafe practices by using this form. The relevant University office will follow up on these reports promptly.

Second, a variety of questions have arisen about how to socialize safely. Our team is working with student leaders on practical resources for students. In the meantime, remember the five strategies I shared last week apply both on and off campus:

  1. Attend planned campus events in person and/or virtually. Programs sponsored by campus departments or recognized student groups utilize the health and safety protocols developed by the University.

  2. Engage outdoors whenever possible. Off campus, you should strictly avoid indoor spaces where individuals are not wearing masks or observing physical distancing.

  3. Gather in small groups. Remember a variety of spaces are available to gather informally. Students have asked what size of informal gatherings is permitted. Of course, the appropriate size varies based on whether a space can accommodate physical distancing. Given the spaces available to most students on or off campus, informal outdoor gatherings should not exceed 20 people, and indoor gatherings should be much smaller. Mask and physical distancing guidelines should be observed.

  4. Try a new form of exercise or sport. Click here to learn more about available RecSports programs and facilities.

  5. Choose safe social options. Misuse of alcohol or other drugs reduces inhibitions and negatively impacts individuals’ ability to wear masks or practice physical distancing.

Third, as both Father Jenkins and I have mentioned in previous letters, our health and safety practices not only protect you but also the most vulnerable members of our community with whom you will interact in classes, residence halls, student centers, and off campus businesses.

  • In addition to our regular standards of conduct, students involved in unsafe gatherings, whether on or off campus, or who display a persistent disregard for our health and safety practices in academic or campus settings may be referred to the University conduct process.

  • Unsafe gatherings include those where masks are not worn and/or large numbers over 20 are gathered with disregard for physical distancing guidelines.

  • Depending on the nature of the incident, hosts of unsafe gatherings jeopardize their ability to remain a part of the University community.

As our first weekend approaches, I am hopeful. Yet, the stakes are high to make our reopening successful. I believe in you. I believe members of our Notre Dame family will do the right thing to care for our entire community. Many people have worked hard to make our campus environment safe. Now, it is up to you to make decisions that help us stay together.

With thanks,

Erin Hoffmann Harding
Vice President for Student Affairs