TO:Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers
FROM:Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President, Administration
RE:Guidance on Holiday Parties, Receptions and Gatherings

With the approaching holiday season, we want to provide some general guidance on parties, receptions and gatherings. By taking common sense precautions, departments and units can safely celebrate the holidays, and our fellow faculty, staff and students. These precautions include:

  • All attendees (employees, students and their guests) should be vaccinated.
  • No individuals should be required or expected to attend a holiday party. We should recognize that some of our colleagues have family or health concerns and will choose not to participate. Likewise, we should also respect an individual’s decision to wear a mask even if it is not required by policy or local ordinance.
  • Outdoor events present a much lower risk for COVID transmission. There are a number of tents located around the campus and at area restaurants and event venues. While the weather may not be as accommodating in December as it was earlier in the fall, heated outdoor spaces can be found.
  • Holiday events that are held indoors on campus, in a restaurant or other public space must observe current university and municipal policies that are in place at the time of the event. As of November 10, both Duke and Durham County require masks for all indoor events unless individuals are actively eating or drinking.
  • Events at private residences are not covered by university and municipal polices, but we strongly encourage hosts to be prudent in terms of density and recommend that attendees wear masks unless actively eating or drinking.

The Duke community has gone to extraordinary lengths over the past two years to protect public health, which has made it possible for us to continue our education, research and service missions. While this is a time for much-needed celebration, it is also a time to remain vigilant, and to continue to look out for each other we enter what we hope will be the final phase of a global pandemic.