Sept. 16, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As communicated earlier, Duke’s masking policy will be guided by the community risk category as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Thursday, Sept. 22, Durham will have been below the high-risk category for two consecutive weeks, so beginning that day masking will become optional in classrooms.

We recommend that anyone experiencing cold-like respiratory symptoms, even after a negative COVID test, continue to wear a mask indoors until symptoms resolve. Unvaccinated individuals, who are at increased risk for severe illness, are encouraged but will no longer be required to wear masks indoors beginning next Thursday. Please note that any individuals who feel more comfortable continuing to mask should do so and all members of the community should respect the rights of those who wish to remain masked. 

Faculty members may request that students continue to wear masks in their classrooms if they wish to do so. In such cases, faculty should clearly communicate those expectations to the class. Masking helps protect the masked individual, even in the presence of those who are unmasked, so those with concerns – faculty or students – should continue to wear a well-fitted mask in class.

Student who have tested positive or have COVID symptoms should not attend class until they have tested negative or been cleared by Student Health to return. Faculty will work with students to navigate any missed classes.

Masks will continue to be required on Duke buses and vans and in all clinical settings until further notice.

The best precaution you can take now is to get the new bivalent COVID booster, which protects against transmission from the current variants now in circulation. Appointments are being added to the COVID Vaccine website as supply becomes available. Boosters may also be available at your medical provider or local pharmacy.

Medical experts caution that we are not out of this pandemic yet, and we can expect ongoing variants to emerge that may prove more elusive to vaccines and antibodies and could lead to increases in severe illness and hospitalizations. If so, we must be ready to embrace a return to familiar restrictions and requirements, including indoor masking, that have proven effective in safeguarding our community.

But for now, as we take this next step towards more normalcy on campus and in classrooms, we are grateful for the efforts of all members of the Duke community that have allowed us to continue the work of the university throughout the pandemic.   

Sally Kornbluth, Ph.D.

Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor

Russell Thompson,

Interim Vice President, Operations,

Emergency Coordinator