This week Governor Cooper announced an extension of the “stay-at-home” order for the entire state through May 8, and the City of Durham City and Durham County announced a joint extension until May 15. Area municipalities are also allowed to create provisions that are in addition to and extend beyond the state’s May 8 order.
Duke will phase in a return of faculty and staff over time in a coordinated process to ensure appropriate social distancing, availability of PPE (personal protective equipment) and testing capabilities for COVID-19. Expanded staffing will begin in more controlled areas of greatest need such as health clinics and research laboratories as early as next week.
These efforts are being tightly controlled and coordinated to mitigate potential risks and ensure the safety of faculty and staff, as well as the communities we serve. No unit or department should increase staffing levels beyond current needs to support critical on-site operations without approval from your respective dean, vice president or vice provost. Once decisions to expand on-site staffing in certain areas have been made, those areas will receive guidelines and instructions for returning to work on campus.
Our approach to staffing will need to be phased in over time and fluid as conditions change. As areas of the state and region begin to ease restrictions on activities, we may see localized spikes of COVID-19 outbreaks. Such outbreaks will increase demands on our health system and may force us to restrict on-site staffing again to only those necessary to support critical operations until the outbreaks are contained.
We continue to work closely with local, state and federal authorities as well as public health officials, including our own Duke Health experts in infectious diseases, to determine the safest approach for all members of the Duke community.
No decisions have been made yet as to activities related to the fall semester. President Price has charged Strategy Team 2021 with assessing options for a return of students, faculty and staff to campus. More information will be communicated regarding those plans as we assess conditions through the coming months and once decisions have been finalized.
Thank you for your ongoing flexibility and support in serving our core missions and upholding our shared values during this unique time in Duke’s history.
Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President, Administration, Co-chair Team 2021
Jennifer Francis, Executive Vice Provost, Co-chair Team 2021