University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame President Tests Positive for Coronavirus

University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday, according to a letter to students.

The letter to the Notre Dame campus read:

During self-quarantine this week, University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, learned that a colleague with whom he has been in regular contact tested positive for  COVID-19. Fr Jenkins was tested and found to be positive for COVID-19 too.  As a result, he is entering an extended period of isolation as indicated by University medical personnel and county health officials.  “My symptoms are mild and I will continue work from home,” Fr. Jenkins said.   “The positive test is a good reminder for me and perhaps for all of how vigilant we need to be.

The president sent a letter on Monday to the campus community, apologizing for not wearing a mask and social distancing during Judge Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court Justice nomination ceremony at the White House.

Photos and videos showing Jenkins not wearing a mask and shaking hands with others at the event Saturday surfaced on social media, prompting criticism on social media.

In his letter sent to students, staff and faculty Monday evening, Jenkins said he believed it was important to represent Notre Dame at the ceremony as Barrett attended Notre Dame Law School and is a professor at the university.

Jenkins explained that when he arrived at the White House, he and others underwent a rapid COVID-19 test, and once they had all tested negative, they were told it was safe to remove their masks.

"I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so," he stated. "I especially regret my mistake in light of the sacrifices made on a daily basis by many, particularly our students, in adjusting their lives to observe our health protocols."

After returning to campus, Jenkins said he consulted the Notre Dame Wellness Center, and out of an abundance of caution and in accordance with university protocols, he decided to quarantine.

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