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8 days into semester, Notre Dame halts in-person classes as 146 students get coronavirus

“The virus is a formidable foe,” Notre Dame's president said. Also on Tuesday, Michigan State University suspended plans for in-person classes on campus.
Image: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
People walk near the Golden Dome on the campus of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana on Sept. 30, 2006.Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images file

The University of Notre Dame suspended in-person classes on Tuesday, eight days after the school’s fall semester began and after 146 students and a staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said.

The two-week suspension, which is effective Wednesday for the school’s 12,000 students, came one day after the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill made a similar announcement and as Michigan State University on Tuesday ordered undergrads to stay home for the rest of the fall "effective immediately."

“The virus is a formidable foe,” Notre Dame University President Father John Jenkins said in a news release. “For the past week, it has been winning. Let us as the Fighting Irish join together to contain it.”

Since Aug. 3, 927 people have been tested for the virus and 147 have returned positive results, the school said.

Most of those students were seniors living off-campus who contracted the disease at gatherings where social distancing rules were not followed and masks weren’t worn, the school said, citing a contact tracing analysis.

None of the students have been hospitalized and the school said it would implement remote learning for two weeks.

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In Michigan, the university hadn’t yet begun their fall semester as they abruptly told students to stay away from campus. In a Tuesday letter to students, University President Samuel Stanley Jr. attributed the move to the “current status of the virus in our country — particularly what we are seeing at other institutions as they re-populate their campus communities.”

The school's remote education will begin Sept. 2, he said.

On Monday, UNC-Chapel Hill became the first university in the United States to abandon in-person classes after reopening for the fall semester on Aug. 10. Five school employees and 130 students tested positive, the school said.

"Many students, graduate workers, staff, some faculty members and even the local county health department warned that this was going to happen," said Lamar Richards, a student chairperson on the Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity at UNC.

In an open letter, Richards said the school administration’s "carelessness and dereliction of duty" had caused the outbreaks.