Notre Dame's president insisted in-person classes were 'worth the risk.' A week into the semester, they're shutting down.

University of Notre Dame.
(Image credit: NOVA SAFO/AFP via Getty Images)

The University of Notre Dame has canceled all its classes amid an outbreak of coronavirus just a week after students returned to class.

In-person classes will be shut down for the next two weeks, and possibly for the rest of the semester, the university's President Rev. John Jenkins announced Tuesday. The abrupt change came after 80 students tested positive for COVID-19, and after Jenkins wrote an op-ed in May insisting it was "worth the risk" to bring them all back in the first place.

Before classes restarted Aug. 10 at the South Bend, Indiana, school, all of its 12,000 students were tested for COVID-19. Just 33 of them tested positive. But as of Monday, another 418 were tested for coronavirus, and 80 tested positive, with many of the new cases linked to an off-campus party. The school kept testing students with coronavirus symptoms, and of the 927 who were tested through the end of Monday, 147 had tested positive.

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That led Jenkins to shut down classes temporarily with the hopes "that we can get back to in-person instruction." But if the outbreak doesn't clear up in two weeks, students will have to go home and learn remotely for the rest of the semester. That possibility will mark a defeat for Jenkins, who insisted in his New York Times op-ed that students would be returning to campus in the fall. "The good of educating students and continuing vital research is very much worth the remaining risk" of the coronavirus pandemic, Jenkins wrote, a belief he stuck by even though the pandemic worsened in Indiana after the article was published.

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