Spring Break is quickly approaching, and we know many of you have plans to travel, whether to go home or elsewhere. As you prepare to leave campus, I am writing with some important information about the rapidly changing situation with coronavirus (COVID-19) that may impact your plans. AT THIS POINT, WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO RECONSIDER ANY INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL OVER SPRING BREAK. Please read carefully—we want everyone to enjoy a safe, healthy and restorative break.
In the last week, we have seen a spike in COVID-19 cases in countries outside of mainland China—primarily in South Korea and Italy, with a significant increase in cases in Japan, Iran and Hong Kong as well. Because this situation is evolving daily, it is difficult to anticipate what else may change in Asia, Europe and other parts of the world over the coming days and weeks.
As countries evaluate travel into and out of their regions, limitations and bans are being put into effect, often with little or no prior warning. Please consider both your departure and your return when travelling to countries currently under watch for COVID-19. DUE TO THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU RECONSIDER ANY INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL PLANS OVER SPRING BREAK, ESPECIALLY TO OR THROUGH AREAS INCLUDED IN THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION’S TRAVEL ALERTS.
If you do decide to travel outside the country, we encourage you to register with the Duke Travel Registry. This will enable us to contact you with information as the situation evolves. If you visit a region that is placed on CDC Level 3 warning, you will likely experience canceled flights and restricted travel by local authorities and Duke will not be able to intervene on your behalf. You will also be required to self-quarantine at home for 14 days before you are permitted to return to Duke. Those considering travelling should continue to monitor the websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the U.S. State Department for the latest information and guidance. Note that GEO and University partners are coordinating carefully to advise your classmates studying away this semester for up-to-date information in their host countries.
Regardless of your travel plans, we should all continue to follow the healthy practices recommended by experts. The CDC recommends the following actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases such as COVID-19:
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean your hands often by washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
If you return from Spring Break after traveling to an area with active communal spread of coronavirus and you exhibit signs of illness such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should contact Student Health at 919-681-9355, option 2 and ask to speak to a triage nurse. Students must then receive medical clearance before returning to campus.
We will continue to share updates on changes that may impact you and your travel plans. I also encourage you to continue to monitor the Duke coronavirus response website for the latest updates.
Wishing you all a safe, healthy, and refreshing break.
Mary Pat McMahon
Vice Provost/Vice President for Student Affairs