Irish president has virus amid school outbreaks


Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins has tested positive for COVID-19 and is showing mild symptoms, the school said in a message sent to the campus community on Friday.

Jenkins learned this week that a colleague with whom he has been in regular contact tested positive, so he also got tested and came back with a positive result. Jenkins was already in a self-quarantine after attending the nomination ceremony for Judge Amy Coney Barrett in Washington, D.C., last weekend. The statement says that Jenkins was 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.”

Jenkins said in a statement last week, “I regret my error in judgment” for not wearing a mask and shaking hands during the nomination ceremony.

The Notre Dame campus and football program have dealt with their own separate coronavirus outbreaks since school resumed last month. Notre Dame paused football activities and had to postpone its scheduled game this weekend with Wake Forest to December because of coronavirus issues stemming from its game against South Florida on Sept. 26.

On Monday, the school reported 18 positive tests in the football program during its latest round of testing. As a result, 25 players were in isolation and 14 others in quarantine due to an outbreak coach Brian Kelly tied to the pregame meal before Notre Dame’s game against South Florida, and a player vomiting on the sideline.

Notre Dame resumed practice on Wednesday.

In August, Jenkins ordered the school to go to virtual learning for two weeks after a spike in cases in South Bend, but that decision did not impact football workouts.

Notre Dame opted to join the ACC for this season as a way to play the 2020 football season, a decision that had a significant impact not only on the ACC opting to move forward with a fall season but other conferences as well. In late July, Jenkins voted as a member of the ACC Board of Directors — consisting of all 15 league presidents and chancellors — to move forward with the season just as the Big Ten and Pac-12 decided to pause.

In an op-ed he wrote for The New York Times in May, Jenkins said, “Athletic competition presents another set of challenges. We believe we can, with aggressive testing, hygiene and careful monitoring, keep student-athletes safe. Indeed, keeping healthy relatively small cadres of student-athletes, coaches and support staff members is a less daunting challenge than keeping safe the several thousand other people in the campus community.”

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick maintained throughout the offseason and into the summer that he felt confident the Irish would be able to play this season, even though there might be interruptions.

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