INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The University of Notre Dame has implemented mandatory coronavirus testing for students and strict penalties for those who don’t comply after students rushed the school’s football field to celebrate a double-overtime upset over Clemson and held numerous weekend parties.
The mass of students, players and coaches crammed close together on the field in the minutes following the Fighting Irish’s 47-40 win Saturday night in South Bend over then-No. 1 Clemson. Many of the thousands who stormed the field were not wearing masks or had their masks pulled down.
Now, all Notre Dame students are required to undergo coronavirus testing before they leave South Bend for the extended winter break, Notre Dame President the Rev. John Jenkins told students Sunday night. The email announcement didn’t specifically reference the storming of the field, but rather “many gatherings” over the weekend.
If a student is exposed or tests positive, they’ll be required to quarantine on campus for two weeks. If students don’t complete the mandatory coronavirus test — or if they leave the campus area before they receive the results of their exit test — they will be prevented from registering for classes, university officials said.
The campus has also put in a place a zero-tolerance for gatherings that do not follow safety guidelines. Any student hosting a large gathering will face “severe sanctions.”
“As exciting as last night’s victory against Clemson was, it was very disappointing to see evidence of widespread disregard of our health protocols at many gatherings over the weekend,” Jenkins said in his letter Sunday. In addition the game, numerous parties were also held around the campus over the weekend.
Following the win, Notre Dame moved up two spots to No. 2 in the The Associated Press college football poll, while Clemson dropped to No. 4.
The celebration came just two days after Jenkins released a video warning students about spikes in COVID-19 cases around the campus and implored them to redouble their efforts to follow safety measures. Notre Dame reported 24 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, with 220 active cases overall. The university has reported 1,355 positive cases since the start of the fall semester.
Jenkins himself has come under criticism in recent weeks after he failed to wear a mask at a White House Rose Garden ceremony where President Donald Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. Jenkins, who tested positive for COVID-19 days after attending, shook hands and sat shoulder-to-shoulder with others at the event.
Jenkins later apologized for his actions, saying in a statement that, “I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so.”
Notre Dame’s Faculty Senate formally expressed disappointment in the school president’s actions with a resolution passed Thursday.
Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.