Latest News on Coronavirus and Higher Education

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Notre Dame President Tests Positive for COVID-19

Oct. 2, 1:20 p.m. The University of Notre Dame announced Friday that its president, the Reverend John Jenkins, tested positive for COVID-19 just days after attending a White House event for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

A colleague Father Jenkins was in regular contact with had tested positive for the virus, and Father Jenkins was subsequently tested, according to a message to students, faculty and staff members. He will quarantine at home.

“My symptoms are mild and I will continue to work from home,” Father Jenkins said in a statement. “The positive test is a good reminder for me and perhaps for all of how vigilant we need to be.”

The announcement follows the news overnight of U.S. president Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump testing positive for the virus.

Earlier this week, Jenkins was criticized for not wearing a mask or social distancing at White House event for Barrett.

— Emma Whitford

Penn State Releases Student Punishments

Oct. 2, 6:24 a.m. Pennsylvania State University on Thursday released a list of the punishments students have received for violating COVID-19 rules since Aug. 17. The punishments include:

  • Suspensions for the rest of the academic year: 10.
  • Removal from on-campus housing: 17.
  • Probation or probation with a transcript notation: 204.
  • Warnings, “which may include a discussion about the situation, an explanation of the misconduct and expectations going forward, and a warning that a further violation may result in more serious consequences”: 1,046.

“The university’s top priority in response to the pandemic has been the health and safety of our community. We are grateful for the seriousness with which most of our students take the virus’ threat, but we will continue to hold accountable those students who threaten our community by violating our clearly stated expectations,” said Damon Sims, vice president for student affairs.

— Scott Jaschik

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Seeking Tuition Refund for Remote Learning

Oct. 1, 3:35 p.m. A federal judge on Thursday largely dismissed a lawsuit in which a group of Northeastern University students sought refunds of their tuition and other payments after the university, like most colleges in the country, closed its campuses and shifted to remote learning because of the coronavirus last spring.

Many such cases were filed last spring and summer, and this appears to be the first one decided by a federal court.

In his ruling, Judge Richard G. Stearns granted Northeastern’s motion to dismiss the class action on all of the students’ demands except for possible refund of the campus recreation fee, which he agreed could proceed.

The two named plaintiffs, Thom Gallo and Manny Chong, undergraduate and graduate students, respectively, had paid Northeastern between $23,400 and $26,100 in tuition, plus several hundred dollars in fees for the spring term. Chong petitioned the university for a refund based on the…

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