Notre Dame looking to ease COVID-19 restrictions

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--The University of Notre Dame have strictly set their ways on campus restrictions since the start of the pandemic. On Monday, officials released plans to ease some of those campus guidelines, only if 90% of students get at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this spring semester. 

“Things like allowing inner hall visits which we have not allowed for the semester,” University of Notre Dame spokesperson Dennis Brown said. “Allowing students to have outdoor gatherings of 25 rather than 10 and putting basketball hoops back up so they can play basketball and put nets up so they can play volleyball.” 

Notre Dame however will still require mask wearing, social distancing and weekly surveillance testing. Thoughif the university continues to do their part and surpasses their expectations, they may ease up even more! 

“For example, students would no longer be surveillance tested on a weekly basis, there will be no exit testing when they leave the campus for the summer and would provide some other other door activities,” Brown said. 

And hitting that goal is defiantly possible! 

“The vaccine clinic that Notre Dame set up for this week certainly has the capacity to meet that volume,” St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox said. “I think there’s considerable enthusiasm to restore campus life in the safest way possible. So, I certainly think that’s an achievable goal.” 

When the fall semester rolls around though, what happens when students come from out of state or even internationally? Well, St. Joseph Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox said out of state students aren’t a big concern, but brining in international students are. 

“I think international students will pose some interesting challenges, because for instance, you look at the AstraZeneca vaccine that’s approved in some countries, it’s not yet approved in the united states, so what’s the standard that you apply? You have to have been vaccinated by something that’s approved in the U.S.? Or as long as it was approved from whatever country you're coming from,” Fox said. 

Despite possible future challenges, officials hope these incentives will help bring normal back to campus. 

“To have 12,000 or more individuals vaccinated adds to what has already been an outstanding effort here in St. Joseph County as well as the state of Indiana in terms of getting as many people vaccinated as possible,” Brown said. “It’s just going to make for a safer environment and as we have said several times, it’s going to make it not normal. But closer to normal as we move forward. 

If Notre Dame does meet their goal, not only would it be beneficial to the university, but also to St. Joseph County as a whole. 

“The more people interacting in the community who are vaccinated, the better off we all are,” Fox said. “If we know that a huge proportion of the community has been vaccinated, then it decreases any concerns that people may have about their interaction throughout St. Joseph county. So, I think it’s a win all the way around really.” 

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