The University of Notre Dame announced plans on Monday for students to return to campus for the fall 2020 semester. Students have been taking online classes since mid-March due to the pandemic.
Notre Dame officials say they’ve taken the last two months to develop a plan with medical professionals to prevent a COVID-19 outbreak when students return. The plan includes COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and isolation protocols. It also includes plans for social distancing, mask requirements, and increased cleaning.
University Spokesperson Paul Browne says he recognizes the challenges of reopening for the fall semester but believes Notre Dame is prepared.
“If there came a time between now and August 10th, or even after, where things changed significantly in terms of health and safety, we can always revert to instruction online and even have students go home,” he says.
Browne says the decision to have an in-person fall semester was made with students and faculty as a priority.
“So we will keep that principle in mind throughout this, what we all have to say is an experiment in the sense that we’ve never been in this place before.”
Faculty are being asked to prepare their courses for both in-person and remote learning so students can continue to take classes in case of an outbreak.
The fall semester will begin the week of August 10th which is two weeks earlier than originally scheduled, and will end before Thanksgiving. There will be no fall break to prevent exposure from students traveling and returning to campus.
Decisions are still being made about whether or not to have study abroad programs in the fall.