A day after North Carolina-Chapel Hill sent students home because a bunch of people on campus tested positive for COVID-19, the University of Notre Dame has taken a similar step (albeit temporary, for the moment) by making instruction online only for two weeks in order to try and head-off an outbreak at their school.
This move was announced on Tuesday by President Rev. John Jenkins, who added that they may have to send students home for longer if the situation doesn't improve.
“If these steps are not successful, we’ll have to send students home as we did last spring,” Jenkins said on a conference call. “The virus is a formidable foe. For the past week it has been winning.”
According to CNBC, Jenkins' comments come after the campus saw a spike following an off-campus party. The school is now reporting 147 total cases, though it may already be higher if you click that link (for reference, Chapel Hill had 135 before shutting things down).
Notre Dame started tracking positive tests two weeks ago
“Our contact tracing analysis indicates that most infections are coming from off campus gatherings. Students infected at those gatherings passed it on to others who in turn passed the virus on to a further group, resulting in the positive cases we have seen,” Jenkins added.
The Hill reports that Jenkins also said those who repeatedly or blatantly ignore health and safety measures will be punished. If you don't go there (probable), sorry for making you read that/this quote. "Serious or persistent failure to comply with health protocols will be handled as a disciplinary matter for students," Jenkins said, before adding, "depending on the nature of the incident, violations of our standards could jeopardize your presence in our campus community."
The university saw its first positive case reported on August 6, and since then they've had almost 16 percent of their 927 tests come back confirming the virus. If you've been reading these articles with any sort of regularity you're aware that's a pretty high positivity rate.
For context, the university (in a release intended to show how prepped they were for their return...which hasn't aged great) says that they pre-screened almost 12,000 students when they came back to school earlier in the month. Only 33 of those came back positive, which is less than one-third of a percent.
hinted at outright stated above, the school is ascribing a lot of the blame to an off-campus party. On Friday, school spokesman Paul Browne told the South Bend Tribune that most of the cases could be traced back to said bash.
“What it reinforces is our concern that it only takes a weak link,” Browne said. “You can have a very strong chain, but if you have only one weak link, it can cause numbers to spike.”