The University of Notre Dame, one of America’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, is bullish on mask-wearing and social distancing to fight the coronavirus.
Now, its president, the Rev. John Jenkins, is under fire after attending a notorious White House event with President Donald Trump at which both precautions were largely ignored — and testing positive for Covid-19.
Some students called for Jenkins’ resignation but he survived. Jenkins is big on coronavirus safety — back in August, after students returned to class and there seemed to be a spike in Covid cases, he did not hesitate to suspend in-person classes for two weeks.
Jenkins says he is sorry for not wearing a mask at a September 26 ceremony at the Rose Garden at which Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett, his nominee to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. She is a Notre Dame graduate and law professor.
That event, at which people sat close together and few wore masks, has come under close scrutiny because at least seven who were in attendance have now tested positive for Covid. They include Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, two Republican US senators, the White House press secretary and a Trump campaign advisor.
“I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden,” Jenkins wrote in a letter to students, faculty and staff at the Indiana university.
“I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so.”
He said he has mild symptoms and would be working from home. The White House has said Barrett tested negative.
Students say they are upset with the university president and see a double standard in his behavior. Around