The following message was sent to senior administrators and deans on Dec. 30, 2020.

UPDATE: please note that as of March 1, 2021 there has been no change to these guidelines.

We know that limiting the size of gatherings, wearing masks, being outdoors, and maintaining social distancing are proven means of reducing risk and virus transmission.  Combined with our robust testing and tracing program, and the commitment of our students, faculty and staff, these measures have been successful so far in protecting the safety of the Duke community.

While the deployment of the vaccine provides much-needed hope for a return to normalcy, it will take some time for broad distribution of the vaccine and therefore it is unlikely to have a significant impact on our plans for the Spring.  Local, state and national public health conditions will be acute for the next several months.  Thus, Duke University will continue to observe the following restrictions through at least February 28, 2021:

  • No in-person public events will be permitted on the Duke campus. This includes performances, concerts, lectures, reunions, alumni and development programs, conferences, symposia, tours, board meetings and any other event to which individuals who are not Duke students, faculty or staff would be invited or expected to attend. 
  • In-person gatherings other than scheduled classes and approved student activities are limited to 10 persons, 6’ social distanced, masked, and neither food nor beverages consumed. 
  • No in-person events hosted, sponsored or paid for by Duke will be permitted to take place off-campus, both in Durham and elsewhere in or outside the U.S.
  • We will continue to monitor public health conditions and provide further guidance for the remainder of the spring semester, including commencement, as soon as we can reasonably do so in 2021.

This fall, many events were held virtually to much success and attracted large audiences, including town halls, conferences, and even a socially distanced performance of the Messiah. Please continue to submit your virtual events to the University Event Calendar by clicking on “SUBMIT A PUBLIC LINK” at

We also recognize that, even with these restrictions, you may still want to propose public events and activities. To that end, there is an appeal and review process that Mike Schoenfeld will continue to oversee in consultation with the appropriate university leaders.  For more information see:

Thank you in advance for conveying this information to colleagues, faculty, staff and event planners in your departments. We will continue to monitor conditions closely and look forward to returning to our regular schedule of broad public engagement as soon as it is safe to do so.