The Reverend John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, sent an email to students on Sunday that admonished them for “widespread disregard” of COVID-19 safety protocols during large gatherings that occurred off campus as students got together for the university’s football game against Clemson University on Nov. 7.
Students will now be required to stay in South Bend, Ind., where the university is located, until they receive coronavirus test results, before returning to their home communities for the Thanksgiving holiday, Jenkins’s email said. The last day of classes is Nov. 12 and exams will be administered Nov. 16 to 20, according to the university’s academic calendar. Students who do not get tested when prompted by the university or who leave the area before getting tested will have a hold placed on their record, meaning they will not matriculate and cannot register for classes for the spring semester until the hold is lifted, the email said.
“We are now even more concerned about the potential for contagion in your home communities as you prepare to travel home at the end of the semester,” Jenkins said. “Our football team showed us how to finish strong on Saturday night. Please finish this semester strong by wearing a mask, maintaining physical distance, washing your hands and completing your daily health check.”
Notre Dame’s football team beat Clemson in double overtime on Saturday night, and students who were at the game in South Bend stormed onto the field in a large crowd to celebrate. Paul Browne, vice president for public affairs and communications, said in an email that students who attended the game were tested for COVID-19 prior to the event and Jenkins’s email on Sunday referred to “large social gatherings of students off campus, mainly before the game, that were problematic.”
Mark Fox, the St. Joseph County deputy health officer, advised the university that the gathering on the field was “not worrisome” because the students were gathered for a short period of time, most were wearing masks and the event was outdoors, Browne wrote. Jenkins himself has been criticized widely for attending a White House event in September where masking and social distancing rules were not followed. Jenkins contracted COVID-19 after the event, which public health officials called a “superspreader” for coronavirus.