The University of Notre Dame has reported a record spike in Covid-19 cases as students began returning to the Indiana campus for fall classes despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
It was the largest single-day spike in cases reported by the university: On Tuesday, Notre Dame confirmed at least 147 Covid-19 cases on its campus, after just 58 cases were reported the day earlier.
The university traced nearly 60 of those cases to an off-campus party, as the rate of infections ballooned throughout the weekend.
News of the Notre Dame outbreak comes as other college campuses across the country faced similar challenges with students returning to live in dorms, oftentimes sharing those small spaces with multiple peers, and to attend at least some in-person courses in the upcoming semester.
At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, officials were forced to reverse course and announce all-online classes for the fall semester after nearly 130 students tested positive for Covid-19. The students were tested just one week before in-person classes were scheduled to resume.
Some have reportedly since been instructed to return home.
In a joint statement, chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and executive vice chancellor and provost Robert Blouin told the UNC community: “As much as we believe we have worked diligently to help create a healthy and safe campus living and learning environment, we believe the current data presents an untenable situation.”
Meanwhile, it was not immediately clear how Notre Dame would respond to the increase of infections.
Paul Browne, a spokesperson for the university, expressed concern over the rising numbers and suggested it was the result of students not following appropriate social distancing measures.
“What it reinforces is our concern that it only takes a weak link,” he said in an interview with the South Bend Tribune. “You can have a very strong chain, but if you have only one weak link, it can cause numbers to spike.”
Still, university officials said they would continue with plans to conduct in-person classes throughout the semester.