Health department and ND students respond after Fr. Jenkins letter

Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 6:33 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins put out a letter this weekend saying he is disappointed in students for ignoring COVID protocols.

We’re hearing from the St Joseph County Health Department as well as students reacting to the new protocols now in place.

The Health Department says students have been ignoring guidance on gatherings, and students say they’re not surprised by the new testing requirements, which are now mandatory.

“It was a little like watching a train wreck in slow motion, because you could just see the energy and excitement building," Dr. Mark Fox says talking about the students rushing the field after the Clemson game. He’s the Deputy Health Officer for St. Joseph County.

Saturday was a big day for the Fighting Irish, with a big win over Clemson, and taking a big risk with students rushing the field.

“In light of the events of the weekend, storming the field, and a lot of social gatherings and other things," Dr Fox says as reason for the letter and new COVID-19 protocols on campus.

Notre Dame University President Father John Jenkins saying it was “very disappointing to see evidence of widespread disregard of our health protocols at many gatherings over the weekend”.

“They ratcheted up the consequences to ensure that all students get tested," Dr. Fox says.

So what’s new?

All student testing is now mandatory ahead of the semester break and beyond. Failure to comply means you’ll get a hold on your record, making a student unable to register for courses.

Students can’t leave South Bend until they get their test results, ignoring this rule will also cause a hold on a student’s records.

Lastly, the letter says there is zero tolerance for gatherings that do not comply with university safety protocols. Hosts will face “severe sanctions”.

“I think the letter has been misinterpreted as being a response to storming the field. I think it was a much broader sense of things being a little bit out of control this weekend," Dr. Fox says.

No mention from Father Jenkins’s on his brush with COVID-19 in that letter.

So what are students saying about the new rules?

“I think he recognizes his own mistake, and I think he recognizes that the university can and should achieve something better, and that’s the path to staying here so I don’t think it has to do with what Father Jenkins does. I think we should take our own initiative to keep things safe," Alex Montana, Junior at Notre Dame says.

“I was expecting something like that, a measure like that. I figured it would be a little more extreme, even than that, I figured he might close classes down for the rest of the term," Erich Fang, Junior at Notre Dame adds.

“I thought it seemed fair, I think everyone needs to get tested before we go home," Sean Keller, Senior at Notre Dame says.

All students will need to get tested and get their results before they head home at the end of the semester around November 21st, and comply with all other testing required by the university going forward.

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