Category: Community Messages Page 1 of 4

Additional Counties Issue ‘Stay-at-Home’ Orders

Durham Mayor Steve Schewel issued a stay-at-home order for the city that goes into effect at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 26. Durham County is set to issue a similar order after after a meeting Friday.

In addition, Wake County has issued a stay-at-home order that goes into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, March 27, and Orange County issued a stay-at-home order that will be in effect from Friday night until April 30.

Durham Stay-at-Home Order

To All Duke students, faculty and staff,  

The City of Durham has enacted a Stay-at-Home order for all residents and businesses effective Thursday, March 26 at 6:00 pm.  This order is consistent with the actions and policies that Duke has undertaken over the past several weeks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community and protect our health care workers, hospitals and clinics so they can continue their vital service.  We expect to see similar orders from Wake County and other parts of the region in the next several days.  

The new Durham Stay-at-Home order supersedes any previous Duke policies and applies to ALL residents of Durham (including students residing on- and off-campus) and ALL faculty and staff employees at Duke facilities in Durham.  It provides specific exemptions for health care workers as well others who are supporting critical operations at Duke and elsewhere.  

Anyone at Duke who is currently supporting critical operations should continue to report to your designated work location as scheduled.  As needs evolve, there are some that may be redeployed to roles that also require you to report to campus. For those that are working remotely, we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that all employees supporting critical services at Duke have the necessary equipment to safeguard your health and well-being.  

Individuals who are maintaining critical research laboratory functions may continue to do so provided they observe safety guidelines.  However, access to offices and classrooms for the purposes of teaching online classes is no longer permitted.  We understand and regret that this may cause a disruption – the Keep Teaching team is working on alternatives and will be communicating directly with faculty.  

Students who are currently living in Duke residence halls must remain on campus in their assigned residence hall and assigned room as much as possible, but are permitted to take walks or get exercise on campus grounds (while practicing social distancing and remaining six feet away from others on campus); picking up to-go food orders or visiting the University Store; and attending to urgent medical needs, such as visiting Student Health.  

This continues to be a rapidly changing situation and we will update the Duke community as quickly as we can provide verified information.  You can also visit https://coronavirus.duke.edu for the latest news and Duke policies.  

Thank you to the countless individuals throughout the Duke community who have performed selfless and courageous service to meet the needs of our students, the community and world.  We are fortunate to be part of such a strong, committed, caring and passionate community.  

Kyle J. Cavanaugh
Vice President for Administration and Emergency Coordinator

The Importance of Inclusion

Dear Colleagues,

I have been deeply disturbed by recent reports of bias incidents targeting Chinese, Chinese-American, and Asian individuals throughout the United States.  Meeting the global challenge of COVID-19 calls perhaps as never before on our common humanity and regard for others; it cannot be allowed to become a cause for scapegoating, bias, or hatred.

Duke has benefitted from a vibrant relationship with China since well before we became a university. Our very first international student, Han Jiaozhun, or Charlie Soong, came to what was then Trinity College in 1880 from Hainan province.  And we take pride in Duke Kunshan University, our innovative joint venture in Jiangsu province. Over the decades, thousands of Chinese and Chinese-American students, faculty, staff, and visitors have come to our campus to study, work, conduct research, and treat patients. These colleagues, classmates, friends, and neighbors are a vitally important part of our university community.

The recent spate of bias incidents across America not only reflects the most misguided, distorted, and base biases about the coronavirus, it is also thwarting the public health response to the virus’s spread. I want to be quite clear: Duke resoundingly condemns any discrimination or bias against our Asian or Asian-American neighbors, and we pledge to continue advocating for our shared values of inclusion, mutual trust, and respect.

To that end, Duke is prepared to provide assistance to students, staff, and faculty who may need it. If you believe you have experienced discrimination or harassment based upon your race, national origin or other protected identity, please contact the Office for Institutional Equity for assistance at 919-684-8222 or oie-help@duke.edu. You may also consider other Reporting Resources to address additional concerns.

In these unsettling times, I encourage every person associated with Duke University to join me in supporting those among us who might need a kind word or some assistance—and to remember to take care of ourselves and one another as we meet the challenges ahead.

Sincerely,
Vincent E. Price

U.S. State Department Global Travel Advisory for all U.S. Citizens

TO:                  All Duke Students, Faculty and Staff
FROM:            Kyle J. Cavanaugh
                        Vice President for Administration and Emergency Coordinator

We want to be sure that you saw the news that the U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 Travel Advisory for all U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. The advisory (copied below) recommends that U.S. citizens arrange to return to the U.S. immediately unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.

If you are currently out of the country and intend to return to the U.S. we strongly encourage you to make travel arrangements immediately, and to observe the guidelines about self-isolating that comes from public health authorities when you return.  Additional guidance, including requirements for quarantine, is available on the Duke Coronavirus website

The full text of the State Department advisory is below:

The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.  In countries where commercial departure options remain available, U.S. citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.  U.S. citizens who live abroad should avoid all international travel.  Many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions and mandatory quarantines, closing borders, and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.  Airlines have cancelled many international flights and several cruise operators have suspended operations or cancelled trips.  If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite timeframe.

On March 14, the Department of State authorized the departure of U.S. personnel and family members from any diplomatic or consular post in the world who have determined they are at higher risk of a poor outcome if exposed to COVID-19 or who have requested departure based on a commensurate justification.  These departures may limit the ability of U.S. Embassies and consulates to provide services to U.S. citizens.

For the latest information regarding COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) website.

You are encouraged to visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security. Please also visit the website of the relevant U.S. embassy or consulate to see information on entry restrictions, foreign quarantine policies, and urgent health information provided by local governments.

Travelers are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. The Department uses these Alerts to convey information about terrorist threats, security incidents, planned demonstrations, natural disasters, etc. In an emergency, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate or call the following numbers: 1(888) 407-4747 (toll-free in the United States and Canada) or 1 (202) 501-4444 from other countries or jurisdictions.

 If you decide to travel abroad or are already outside the United States:

Consider returning to your country of residence immediately using whatever commercial means are available.

Have a travel plan that does not rely on the U.S. Government for assistance.

Review and follow the CDC’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus.

Check with your airline, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.

Visit travel.state.gov to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security.

Visit our Embassy webpages on COVID-19 for information on conditions in each country or jurisdiction.

Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the United States

Visit Keeping workplaces, homes, schools, or commercial establishments safe.

Change in Grading Policy for Graduate and Professional Students

TO:        Duke Graduate and Professional Students 
DATE:   March 19, 2020
RE:        Change in grading policy for graduate courses, Spring 2020

We made an announcement yesterday about an immediate change in grading policy for undergraduate courses taken in Spring 2020 – notably to change the grading policy from a letter grade default to S/U default, but to also allow students who choose to receive a letter grade for any course to submit a form requesting this option.

The stress and anxiety created by the COVID-19 pandemic is the primary motivation for this change in policy. Concerns about stress and anxiety apply equally to our graduate students, indeed perhaps more so given the existence of young families for some, dislocation from familial support for others, abrupt changes in schools, childcare and work environments, and disruptions in markets generally. We understand these emotions and want to avoid adding to them.

Towards this goal, we have been working to identify a change in grading policy that can be implemented quickly and with few spillover effects or unintended consequences. As you are aware, graduate students at Duke are enrolled in a large number of degree programs that span ten schools within the university. Some of these schools, and some programs, have specific professional, accreditation and/or licensure requirements that make an (even emergency) change in grading policy difficult if not impossible to implement. At a minimum, some schools and programs need time to consult with external agencies or regulating bodies to determine the extent of flexibility that can be offered. Please see the section below identifying specific schools or programs that will either follow different policies or require more time to determine whether more flexible grading policies are possible.

Schools and programs will move to the following grading policy for the Spring 2020 semester, with the important exceptions for Divinity, Law, Medicine and Nursing noted below.

Effective immediately, Spring 2020 graduate courses will transition to a default S/U grading option. If students choose to receive a letter grade for any course, they can do so by submitting a form to the registrar, no later than 5pm EST on the last day of classes or as prescribed by the school where the course is offered.

  • Some schools (such as the Divinity School) have already adopted new policies that provide for flexibility in grading. The Divinity School, for example, has implemented an opt-in P/F grading. Those school-specific policies prevail, so students taking classes in those schools should be aware of any differences.
  • Some schools have grading rubrics that are similar but not identical to S/U. This policy will therefore be adapted to these school-specific grading scales, understanding that the extrapolation will not be exact but captures the spirit and intent of the policy.
  • The last day of classes differs across schools. The last day for you to submit the form to request a letter grade will depend on the calendar for the school in which the course is offered. For example, if a 700-level course is offered within Arts & Sciences, the last day of graduate classes for The Graduate School of April 15 applies. As another example, the Divinity School has implemented a policy that all such forms should be submitted no later than April 1.

Graduate level courses include 700-level classes (taken by graduate students only) as well as 500-level and 600-level courses (taken by undergraduates as well as graduate students). Thus, the S/U policy will apply to both undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in these classes.

Courses taken for S/U grades during Spring 2020 will count towards curricular, major, continuation, and graduation requirements.

  • Current Graduate School policy requires that at least 24 of the 30 credits required for a masters degree be earned in letter-graded courses. A change in this policy will be made for graduate students affected by the Spring 2020 semester. The change will allow for the number of letter-graded credits to reflect the unusual nature of the Spring 2020 semester.  For example, if a graduate student is taking three (3) courses this semester and all three would have been necessary to meet the 24-credit requirement, the number of required letter-graded credits will reduce by nine (9). If a student is taking one (1) course this semester and this course would have been necessary to meet the 24-credit requirement, the number of letter-graded credits will reduce by three (3).
  • There will be no reduction of the 24-credit requirement for courses taken S/U in semesters prior to Spring 2020 or after Spring 2020. That is, the change in this policy is specific to the unusual events affecting Spring 2020.

Faculty will grade students as usual during the semester, and enter the S/U using our existing rubric (where S is equivalent to a C- or above).

Duke will include a designation on students’ transcripts, indicating the extraordinary circumstances encountered in the present semester.

We have reviewed this emergency change with each of our schools and the vast majority are able to move forward quickly with this approach, noting the following differences:

  • Duke Divinity School had already implemented its own version of a flexible grading policy for graduate courses. Students taking graduate courses in the Divinity School will therefore follow the Divinity school-specific policy articulated.
  • The School of Medicine (SOM) is largely able to follow this approach with the exception of clinical education activities where more time is needed to work through the highly disruptive nature of the pandemic and to minimize, if not avoid, unintended consequences to students. SOM will reach out to medical students separately once these issues have been resolved.
  • The School of Nursing (SON) and School of Law (Law) face complex issues with any grading change as their programs are affected by accreditation, licensure, as well as state-by-state regulatory bodies. SON and Law leadership are working feverishly to determine what flexibility is possible. Understand that parties are trying to minimize if not avoid unintended consequences to students. SON and Law will reach out to nursing and law students separately once these issues have been resolved.

There may be programs with specific requirements that we have not called out but which may need to deviate from the policy described above. We are asking any such programs to reach out to their students directly, and quickly, with updated information.

We hope this change in policy eases some of the stress many of you are facing at this extraordinary time, while at the same time encouraging your learning and engagement for the remainder of the semester. More than anything else, we hope you and your loved ones remain healthy and safe.

Sincerely,

Sally Kornbluth, Provost
Jennifer Francis, Executive Vice Provost
Paula McClain, Dean of the Graduate School

Parking Made Available Closer to Worksites

In an effort to support critical health care operations and social distancing, Duke is adjusting parking access so community members with valid permits for remote parking lots can park closer to campus. 

From Friday, March 20, until April 30, community members with R1, R2, R3, HEW, and Mill parking permits may park in Parking Garage 3, H Lot, Hock Garage, and Circuit at no additional cost. The parking permit and DukeCard ID will operate entry and exit gates.  

The changes shift approximately 800 community members to closer campus parking, reducing the need for a bus ride. In addition, nearly 1,800 spaces are vacant and within walking distance to medical and research locations.

Spaces designated for patient parking will not be accessible for employees during weekdays in Parking Garage 1, Parking Garage 2 and the Research Drive Garage. Employees with a permit for a specific garage can still park in the employee parking sections in their designated garage (example: Research Drive Garage Permit Holders can park in the employee section of Research Drive Garage, off Research Drive; NOT the patient parking section off Eye Care Drive). Evening and weekend access remains unchanged. Bus service to the R1 and R2 lots ended as of March 19, at 8 p.m.

These facilities are within walking distance to most Health System locations.  If a permit holder requires transportation to a work location, the H2: Hospital Loop runs between PG3, the Duke Medicine Pavilion and the H lot from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and makes limited stops at the front of Duke Hospital from 5:40 a.m. to 6:50 a.m. 

Permit holders will be notified by email when parking permit restrictions return to normal, whether prior to or after the target date of April 30.

An Update About Commencement

This email was sent on March 18, 2020
Dear Members of the Class of 2020,

You have heard from me many times in the past few days, and I wish that today I were writing with better news. In light of the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the latest public health advisories on travel and large gatherings, we have made the very difficult but necessary decision to postpone commencement for the Class of 2020, including departmental ceremonies and other associated events.

I know firsthand that commencement is one of the highlights of the Duke experience—an uplifting and inspiring celebration of our graduates and their accomplishments, and a memorable occasion in the life of our great university. I also know how disappointing this turn of events will be for you and your families, at a time when we are all sadly engulfed in disappointing and disheartening news.

Over the next few months, we will face unprecedented disruptions—both as a university community and in our personal and professional lives. These circumstances will be particularly distressing for the Class of 2020, who have been robbed of your final few months with classmates and friends at Duke. I share your disappointment—and sadness—that our campus will remain quiet this spring, without the joyful celebration that marks the passage of another year.

For all of these reasons, I am resolutely committed to an in-person recognition of the Class of 2020.  Commencement will surely take place, and here on campus.  And while we are still in the early stages of exploring possible dates and details of this ceremony, rest assured that it will reflect the indelible mark that this class has left on Duke. We also plan to send your diplomas later this spring–more information will be coming in the days ahead.

In the meantime, I am very pleased to report that Ken Jeong (T ’90), who was to deliver the commencement address on May 10, has generously agreed to work with us on an online celebration to mark that moment—albeit remotely—while we await the opportunity to assemble with him in person.

Also, in the meantime, I hope you will take care of yourselves and those around you, by heeding the advice we are all receiving about practicing social distancing and regular hand washing—while at the same time carving out time for a walk or a hike, or a good book, and plenty of rest.  We’ll get through this, together.

Thank you again for your understanding and support in these most unusual times. I am proud to be a member of the extraordinary Duke community, and particularly proud of our Class of 2020 as you rise to the challenge of completing your courses of study in the coming weeks. My very best wishes to you all.

Sincerely,
Vincent E. Price

Duke to Continue Pay for Employees

March 18, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Duke has a dedicated workforce of employees and contractors who support our essential missions of education, research, patient care and public service.  As the coronavirus crisis continues to spread, we want to reiterate our commitment that all Duke faculty and staff will continue to stay in a paid work status regardless of their work location or work schedule.  

We also know that contract workers in our food service facilities and hotels, while not directly employed by Duke, are equally valuable members of our community.  Thus, we are making a commitment to provide financial assistance to ensure that all food service workers who are currently assigned to work full-time in Duke University facilities as well as employees of the Washington Duke Inn and J.B. Duke Hotel will maintain their current pay through May 31, 2020, to the extent that their employers are unable to do so, and they are not covered by pending state and federal government programs.

As part of this effort, we may need to reassign both Duke employees and contract workers to new and different job responsibilities to meet urgent needs.  Details on that process will be forthcoming.  In the meantime, please know how grateful we are for your service during this extraordinary time.  Our university and our community are better for it.

Tallman Trask III
Executive Vice President

Announcement about Grading

This email was sent to faculty on March 18, 2020

Dear colleagues,

The unprecedented challenges imposed by COVID-19 require us to consider novel ways to support the curricular efforts of our students and faculty. This is a moment that has been characterized by widespread anxiety, uncertainty, social, and geographic disruption. As academic leaders of this great university, we believe that bold action is necessary to maximize students’ curricular engagement.

Accordingly, during Spring 2020, we will transition courses to a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) grading option, but allow students the opportunity of receiving a letter grade.

Effective immediately, Spring 2020 courses will transition to a default S/U grading option. If students choose to receive a letter grade for any class, they can do so by submitting a form to the registrar’s office no later than April 22 at 5:00 pm EST.

Moreover:

  • Courses taken for S/U grades during Spring 2020 will count towards curricular, major, continuation, and graduation requirements.
  • Faculty will grade students as usual during the semester, and record the S/U designation using our existing rubric (where an S is equivalent to a C- or above).
  • Grades of S and U are not factored into a student’s grade point average.
  • This policy does not apply to 500/600-level courses. Although undergraduates may enroll in these graduate courses, they are subject to the grading policies of the hosting graduate program.
  • Given this shift, we will suspend the Dean’s List for the Spring 2020 semester.
  • Duke will include a designation on students’ transcripts, indicating the extraordinary circumstances encountered in the present semester.

We expect that this strategy will ease the necessary transitions into remote course delivery and promote strong engagement throughout this most extraordinary phase of Duke’s history.

We remind all colleagues to consult the excellent faculty resource, Keep Teaching (keepteaching.duke.edu), which offers practical guidance for transitioning courses to remote delivery, using both low- and high-tech approaches. In particular, we strongly recommend that faculty attend to our recommendations for administering remote assignments and assessments (https://keepteaching.duke.edu/strategies/assignments-and-assessments/).

Best wishes for a healthy, fulfilling, and intellectually stimulating semester.

Go Duke!

Sally Kornbluth, Provost

Valerie Ashby, Dean, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences

Ravi Bellamkonda, Dean, Pratt School of Engineering

Gary Bennett, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Jennifer Francis, Executive Vice Provost

Judith Kelley, Dean, Sanford School of Public Policy

Mary Pat McMahon, Vice Provost/Vice President Student Affairs

Toddi Steelman, Dean, Nicholas School of the Environment

Undergraduate Grading Policy Changes

This email was sent to all undergraduate students on March 18, 2020

Dear Duke Students,

The unprecedented challenges imposed by COVID-19 require us to consider novel ways to support the curricular efforts of our undergraduate students and faculty. This is a moment that has been characterized by widespread anxiety, uncertainty, social, and geographic disruption. As academic leaders of this great university, we believe that bold action is necessary to maximize undergraduates’ curricular engagement.

Accordingly, during Spring 2020, we will transition all courses to a satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) grading option, but allow undergraduates the opportunity of receiving a letter grade.

Effective immediately, Spring 2020 courses will transition to a default S/U grading option. If you choose to receive a letter grade for any class, you can indicate so by submitting a form to the registrar’s office no later than April 22 at 5:00 pm EST. You can find the form here: https://registrar.duke.edu/forms/su-graded.

Moreover:

  • Courses taken for S/U grades during Spring 2020 will count towards curricular, major, continuation, and graduation requirements.
  • A grade of S (satisfactory) will be awarded if you earn the equivalent of a letter grade of C- or higher.
  • Grades of S and U are not factored into your grade point average.
  • This policy does not apply to 500/600-level courses. These courses are subject to graduate-level grading policies. More detail about these courses will follow.
  • Given this shift, we will suspend the Dean’s List for the Spring 2020 semester.
  • Duke will include a designation on undergraduate students’ transcripts, indicating the extraordinary circumstances encountered in the present semester.

We expect that this strategy will ease the necessary transitions into remote course delivery and promote strong engagement throughout this most extraordinary phase of Duke’s history.

Best wishes for a healthy, fulfilling, and intellectually stimulating semester.

Go Duke!

Sally Kornbluth, Provost
Valerie Ashby, Dean, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
Ravi Bellamkonda, Dean, Pratt School of Engineering
Gary Bennett, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Jennifer Francis, Executive Vice Provost
Judith Kelley, Dean, Sanford School of Public Policy
Mary Pat McMahon, Vice Provost/Vice President Student Affairs
Toddi Steelman, Dean, Nicholas School of the Environment

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