Universities and colleges across the country are struggling with bringing students back to campus as the opening weeks of the fall term loom amid a pandemic that has claimed more than 176,000 lives in the United States.
Notre Dame is putting the classes online in an effort to contain a rapid increase in coronavirus cases.
More Schools Are Also Suspending In-Person Courses
The shift echoes many occurring in recent weeks as the pandemic cause siege to higher education systems.
Michigan State University also announced a similar move, scrapping plans for in-person and hybrid instruction. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which opened for in-person teaching last week, is as well moving online after a surge in cases.
Notre Dame University President, Father John Jenkins, said in a news release:
"The virus is a formidable foe."
"For the past week, it has been winning. Let us as… join together to contain it."
Jenkins said the number of positive cases this month has risen to over 147. And nearly all those infected are students.
Officials also added that most of the students are seniors and living off-campus.
The Spike In Virus Cases Was Due To Failure To Observe Social Distancing Rules
The university linked the surge in infections to off-campus gatherings where students didn't wear masks nor observe physical distancing.
"Our contact-tracing analysis indicates that most infections are coming from off-campus gatherings."
Therefore, students infected at those gathering passed it on to others.
Jenkins also said in a brief address on the university website:
"This spike in cases is very serious, and we must take serious steps to address it."
He added that the school won't be sending students home just yet.
Meanwhile, in Michigan, the university hadn't yet begun its fall semester, and the school abruptly told students to stay away from campus.
Samuel Stanley Jr., University President, attributed the move to the 'current status of the virus in the country — particularly what we see at other institutions as they re-populate their campus communities.'
The school's remote education will begin on September 2.
UNC-Chapel Hill was the first university in the US to abandon in-person classes after reopening for the fall semester. Five school employees and 130 students tested positive, the school said.
Lamar Richards, a student chairperson on the Commission on Campus Equality and Student Equity at UNC, said:
"Many students, graduate workers, staff, some faculty members, and even the local county health department warned that this was going to happen."