VP Hoffmann Harding, VP and Associate Provost Carlson to Graduate and Professional Students: Winter Break Update

Author: John Slott

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Dear graduate and professional students,

We write first with gratitude for your contributions as teaching and research assistants, as undergraduate mentors, and as members of our campus community throughout this most unusual of semesters. We also acknowledge the many ways you have facilitated necessary adaptations to this pandemic. To those of you who have been remote and unable to be on campus, you have been missed, and we look forward to you joining us in South Bend.

This note contains important information about student resources and policy updates related to Winter Break in December and January. This information should be helpful to you, whether you travel elsewhere or remain in South Bend.

Daily Health Check

Beginning Monday, Nov. 23, graduate and professional students should complete the daily health check only on the days you come to campus. Please note that during Winter Break, COVID-19 tests will no longer be generated automatically based on symptoms entered into the daily health check. You can call University Health Services (UHS) to make an appointment for a diagnostic test as detailed below.

Surveillance Testing 

We will continue surveillance testing for those working or living on campus over Winter Break. More information is forthcoming.

Winter Break Policies

Apart from the changes to the daily health check and surveillance testing, Notre Dame’s health and safety protocols remain in place and must be followed whenever you come to campus. Please wear a mask at all times, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands regularly. The University has also updated its travel, visitor, and gathering policies for Winter Break. As articulated in Du Lac, the University reserves the right to address off­-campus violations by current students, especially if the conduct involved has a negative impact on the local community. Informal gatherings in the local area should remain limited to 10 students or fewer with everyone wearing masks and practicing physical distancing. 

Medical Resources and COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing

  • University Health Services (UHS) will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday during Winter Break, with the exception of University holidays. Visits are by appointment only, so please call 574-631-7497 to schedule an appointment. 
  • During operating hours, UHS will also be able to refer students with symptoms for diagnostic COVID-19 tests or schedule students for an exit surveillance test if they are departing the local area in December. The University Testing Site will be open at specified hours from Monday through Saturday, with the exception of University holidays.
  • We encourage you to use Fighting Irish Care for 24/7 telehealth access to licensed providers who can diagnose non-emergent medical conditions and prescribe medications via phone or secure video visits.

Mental Health Resources

  • You can reach the University Counseling Center (UCC) at 574-631-7336 to make an appointment from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday during Winter Break, with the exception of University holidays. On weekdays, student drop-in hours will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Students have 24/7 access to call the UCC Helpline (574-631-TALK) to speak with a counselor by phone. 
  • Students may also utilize the 24/7 TalkNow feature through Fighting Irish Care to hold a video or phone conversation with a counselor about stress, anxiety, or immediate concerns. 

Campus Operating Hours

The University’s offices will be open and available to students on weekdays during Winter Break. Please note that staff in many offices may be working remotely, so please call or email first even if you remain in the local area. The University is officially closed between Dec. 24 and Jan. 3, though some staff and offices may also be closed Nov. 25-27, Dec. 21-23, and Jan. 4-5. 

Several University facilities will operate with modified hours over the Winter Break. 

  • LaFortune Student Center hours of operation
  • Duncan Student Center hours of operation.
  • The Smith Center for Recreational Sports on the third floor of Duncan Student Center is also open by reservation only throughout Winter Break. View hours and schedule your reservation here. To engage your fitness virtually, consider accessing free on-demand fitness classes through Wellbeats until Dec. 31. 

Dining Locations

  • Some retail dining outlets inside the LaFortune and Duncan Student Centers will be open. Food orders from these outlets may be placed in advance through the Grubhub app and are available for pick up.
  • The heated tents on campus will be taken down on Monday, Nov. 23.
  • Students may continue to dine at assigned desks. For the Winter Session, limited dining will also be permitted in designated areas of Duncan Student Center. Please follow all posted protocols and safety precautions within each facility. The Research and Grad Studies Task Force continues to evaluate the potential to offer additional spaces. In the event we are able to offer additional indoor dining spaces, we will communicate this at a later date. 

Campus Shuttle Service Suspended

As a reminder, the Campus Shuttle service was suspended on Friday, Nov. 13, and will restart on Monday, Feb. 1. Campus parking lots will be open and available for faculty, staff, and grad and professional students to park closer to their buildings. Please contact the Parking Services Office at 574-631-5053 or parking@nd.edu for assistance in locating available parking.

Student Programming

The Student Activities Office (SAO) contacted post-baccalaureate student club and organization leaders earlier this week regarding Winter Session student group programming. Virtual student group programming, and in-person on-campus programming for students living locally with special permission, is permitted for graduate and professional students between Saturday, Nov. 21 and Friday, Dec. 18. With the goal of giving you a well-deserved break, student group activity is not permitted between Saturday, Dec. 19 and Tuesday, Jan. 5, but in-person on-campus programming may continue beginning Wednesday, Jan. 6. 

Student Communications over Break

  • Graduate Student Life and the Family Resource Center will continue their weekly e-newsletters to keep you informed about upcoming in-person and virtual opportunities and events.
  • We will continue to communicate with you over break with relevant information, resources, and check-ins.  
  • Campus Ministry will continue to engage with students and communicate opportunities for celebrating the holy seasons of Advent and Christmas through its e-newsletter. Subscribe here.
  • The Research and Graduate Studies Task Force will continue to update you when there is news to share.

Input and Update

  • Please help us plan for when you will be on campus during December and January and understand what kinds of activities you might be interested in by responding to the Graduate Student Winter Session Survey. The survey will close on Friday, Nov. 20.  
  • Students provided valuable information through the two campus-wide surveys conducted this semester by the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being (McWell). A summary of these results is available here. We will continue to conduct additional brief surveys in the months ahead in order to best serve you. .   

Ending the Semester

We have all needed to adapt to complete this semester together, and we know it has not been easy. Thank you for all you have done this fall, especially for the many changes you have adopted to keep our community as healthy as possible. We are proud of your resiliency in the face of challenges.

We hope you will find time to rest and renew over the break. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have a question, concern, or an idea to pass along. 


In Notre Dame,

Erin Hoffmann Harding
Vice President for Student Affairs

Laura Carlson
Vice President and Associate Provost, Dean of the Graduate School


Originally published by John Slott at here.nd.edu on November 19, 2020.