Notre Dame Community Reacts To Fr. Jenkins' Positive COVID Test

Oct 5, 2020

Credit Jennifer Weingart / WVPE

As of Friday, according to a report by the Washington Post, 18 Notre Dame faculty members were awaiting COVID-19 test results, and University President Father John Jenkins had already tested positive. That’s after they attended the nomination ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett at the White House on Sept. 26.


Jenkins said he was tested prior to attending the ceremony, where mask-wearing and social distancing went largely unobserved.


Lauren Kesic is a biochemistry student at the University of Notre Dame. She said that overall, students are frustrated by Jenkins’ diagnosis, especially since he stressed the importance of following safety protocols in an email to students last month.

“I just don’t know how he expects a student body to follow suit if he himself is not necessarily following the very rules that our university is being so strict about with our students,” Kesic said.

Notre Dame sociology professor Richard Williams said that even though Jenkins has since issued an apology, there should still be consequences. 

“He of all people should have known better. All of those law school people who didn’t wear masks should have known better, too," Williams said. "You could say, ‘No harm, no foul,’ but in this case, there was a foul.”

However, not everyone in the campus community is upset with Jenkins.

“Father Jenkins is doing a fantastic job keeping the show on the road during the pandemic," said theology professor Francesca Murphy in an email. "I believe he picked up the virus from a close associate. That could happen to anybody.”

Following a case spike shortly after students returned to campus, Jenkins moved instruction online for several weeks. The Notre Dame football team has also had to cancel a game due to positive coronavirus tests among players.

WVPE has reached out to Notre Dame for a comment for this story and has not yet heard back.

Contact Gemma at or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo

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