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Notre Dame president apologizes for not wearing mask at Trump event

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images
University of Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins says a prayer during a Saint Patrick’s Day breakfast at the Naval Observatory on March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC.

The University of Notre Dame’s president published a letter this week apologizing for not wearing a mask at Saturday’s White House ceremony for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett. 

Pictures of the Rev. John I. Jenkins shaking hands and sitting next to other people without masks circulated on social media following the event announcing Trump’s proposed replacement for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“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 his letter to students, faculty and staff. “I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so.”

Jenkins, who said he attended the event because Barrett is a Notre Dame alumna and law professor, added in the letter that he regretted his actions “in light of the sacrifices made on a daily basis by many, particularly our students, in adjusting their lives to observe our health protocols.” 

He added said that he and other attendees received a rapid COVID-19 test upon arriving at the White House Saturday, claiming they were told it was safe for people to remove their face masks after they all tested negative. 

The president added that he has decided to quarantine upon his arrival back in Indiana to comply with the university’s protocols. 

Monday’s letter came after three Notre Dame students on Sunday shared an online petition calling for the Student Senate to demand Jenkins’s resignation. According to The Associated Press, the students obtained the minimum 200 signatures needed to present their resolution to the Student Senate, which is scheduled to meet on Thursday. 

One of the students, Ashton Weber, told the AP on Monday before Jenkins issued his apology that “to see him appear on a national stage not following the rules he’s asked us to follow is frustrating and a bit hypocritical.” 

Notre Dame’s website says that university members must wear masks in all public spaces on campus. 

The university announced late last month that it was beginning to resume in-person instruction for undergraduate classes on Sept. 2 after a spike in COVID-19 cases on campus led the university to move classes online for two weeks.

Tags 2020 White House Amy Coney Barrett Associated Press Coronavirus coronavirus covid-19 COVID-19 face masks Donald Trump Indiana John I. Jenkins Notre Dame University Ruth Bader Ginsburg trump nominees

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