Since the start of the fall semester, Notre Dame set many new health and safety guidelines, limiting the capacities and spaces for student meetings. Following these regulations, the Students Activities Office (SAO) reworked meeting guidelines and suspended most activities that would hold significant risk for transmission of COVID-19 during the two-week pause of in-person instructions and activities.
However, in light of the decrease in positive cases of the coronavirus, SAO has permitted all clubs, as it has done ever since the first day of classes, to congregate in person, given that attendance is taken at all in-person meeting and events to allow for contact tracing if necessary. Campus groups are approaching these guidelines differently.Sophomore David Campos, a member of the Notre Dame Cycling Club, said allowing members to have organized practices that follow COVID guidelines uplifted the general attitude of the club. “By training in closer proximity, we have increased the training productivity and distance that each rider could go during training rides,” Campos said. “By allowing more experienced riders to pair up with newer members while staying socially distanced, we could hone technique and fitness early before tentative races in the spring.” If the Cycling Club has more than 10 members, it cannot congregate at all once. SAO rules only permit a maximum of 10 people pods to train together at once while wearing masks. The Triathlon Club has also made adjustments to its in-person practices. First year, member Sam Vanstraten said the club has pods that rotate where they meet to train. “For practices, we have two pods that practice at different times for indoor practices,” Vanstraten said. “This has allowed us to space out when we practice on stationary bikes in the Smith Center or swimming at Rockne. When we practice outside, we are able to run in smaller groups that are spaced us as not to put ourselves at risk.” The smaller groups have allowed the team to build community, he said. “The pods have been really great for practice because it has created a smaller, more intimate community that meets often,” Vanstraten said. “I believe that the precautions that are being taken for COVID-19 have really increased the camaraderie within the club.” Many academic clubs are taking different approaches in light of the pandemic. Sophomore Hanjing Zhu, the project leader for the Microsoft Corporation at the Student Business International Council (SIBC) said her group is following a hybrid model. “While some project groups are meeting in person for their weekly meetings, I have conducted most of them on Zoom due to accessibility and safety,” Zhu said. “However, I intend to go in-person after travel-team selections conclude the following week.” While some clubs are aware of the option to meet in person, a few clubs like The Juggler, are either not sure or hesitant to continue with in-person events. “I’m actually not sure where SAO stands, which is why I’ve just been meeting on Zoom for the Juggler,” said senior William LaMarra, the head of the Juggler, the University’s literary magazine. While COVID-19 changes have made this year different, many like sophomore Jerome Gan, are cautiously optimistic. “We just had our first Asian American Association (AAA) meeting two weeks ago at Bond Quad. Everyone stayed socially distant, and these meetings seem to be working more effectively than Zoom,” Gan said. “I hope that we continue this and stay safe until the end of the semester.” Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article stated SAO recently changed its guidelines to allow some student groups to begin meeting in person. These guidelines were only different during the University’s two-week period of remote instruction; otherwise, the SAO guidelines have not changed. The Observer regrets this error.