The University of Notre Dame reopened earlier than many colleges this fall, with students returning to campus on Aug. 3.
The school has been seen as a sort of litmus test for many college campuses that have elected to return to the classroom later this year. However, two weeks after opening, Notre Dame’s data shows a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Though students were all tested before returning to campus and have to fill out health screenings every day, in the week-long span of Aug. 6 to Aug. 14, the university has reported 29 cases.
In a release, university officials said the “vast majority” of cases reported stemmed from one single off-campus gathering.
“(The students involved) indicated individuals at the gathering were both outside and inside, together for some time, not wearing masks, in a crowded space, and drinking,” Erin Hoffman Harding, the VP of student affairs said. "While deeply worried that an event occurred that resulted in positive cases, we are grateful to these students for their candor and cooperation with contact tracers."
She added that “the students involved will learn from this situation and hoped “together we can prevent this result from happening again.”
Many universities have taken a similar approach to emphasize student behavior as a part of a broader effort to create safe on-campus bubbles free of the coronavirus. However, as the fall semester approaches, more schools are deciding against reopening their campuses.
Friday, Columbia University and Barnard College officials nixed plans to return to the classroom, saying they had to curb campus living due to severe restrictions imposed by safety precautions.
CORRECTION (Aug. 15, 2020): A previous version of this story did not include Erin Hoffman Harding's first name. This story has been updated to include it.