Dr. Soumi Eachempati
Notre Dame is having fall classes. What can their plan tell other schools?
Updated: Aug 11, 2021
The University of Notre Dame just announced they will have live classes on campus in the fall. The institution will have fall classes start 2 weeks early and end before Thanksgiving with no scheduled fall break to minimize traffic on and off campus. This announcement follows the California State system's one where the West Coast institution declared its schools were going to have only on-line classes in the fall.
The Notre Dame announcement gave some aspects of its plan and said it would include multiple aspects for safety during this fall semester. The school indicated it will "perform comprehensive testing for COVID-19 with contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols." This statement implies that it will perform testing as a screening and not just for symptomatic individuals but did not indicate how often the testing would be or how it would manage positive tests. The school also did not specify how it would treat the notion of antibody testing and whether that would be honored as form of immunity protection that could minimize other testing for Covid-19.
Notre Dame was also fairly obscure as how the contact tracing would be performed. It did not disclose the method of tracing including by public or private app or an internal method or via a wearable. The school did not indicated how long or how many degrees of contact would be required for the contact tracing and isolation.
The university also mentioned it would "maintain social distancing and mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning of all campus spaces." However, the school did not elaborate on specific issues such as how it will manage class size and seminars or lecture halls where distancing could be challenged. The plan also did not elaborate on the frequency of cleaning protocols or how this would change with positive tests or clustered outbreaks. Also conspicuously absent was the method of monitoring their students and faculty for disease, symptoms, or need for quarantine.
Certainly, the school included the major areas that would be appropriate for a return to campus program in the Covid-19 area. The devil will be in the details for how many of these issues will be exactly included and certainly many specifics may have yet to be fully ironed out.