Category: Community Messages Page 1 of 18

Indoor Mask Requirement Lifted in Most Duke University Facilities

March 4, 2022

Students, Faculty and Staff,

The City and County of Durham will end the indoor masking mandate on Monday, March 7, as will Orange County. Wake County ended its indoor masking mandate on February 25. As a result, and after reviewing CDC guidance and consulting with our infectious disease experts, Duke University will also revise its indoor masking requirements.

As of Monday, March 7, fully vaccinated individuals [primary series and booster shot] will no longer be required to wear masks inside most campus and leased facilities. However, masks will continue to be required for all individuals in the following locations on the Duke University campus unless otherwise indicated:

  • In-person classes
  • Duke buses and vans
  • Clinical and patient care areas*

*Note: Easing of mask requirements does not apply to Duke University Health System hospitals, clinics, procedural centers and PDC clinics. Further communication regarding changes in mask requirements will come directly from DUHS and PDC leadership and will be in accordance with CDC health care recommendations.

Masks may still be required in other locations (such as the Lemur Center) based on specific circumstances, so we encourage students, employees and visitors to carry a mask and be prepared to wear it if needed. Individuals who are unvaccinated are still required to wear a mask in all indoor settings. Anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should wear a mask, not report to work or attend classes, and get tested as soon as possible.
Over the next several weeks, we will continue to evaluate campus and local conditions to determine if further changes need to be made in our masking policies.

This transition recognizes that COVID-19 will be with us in some form, but the spread and severity can now be managed through vaccinations and medical treatment. As a result of our high vaccination rates, frequent testing and care and concern for each other, we have not seen any cases of serious illness among students, and very few among employees since the emergence of the Omicron variant.

After two years of navigating the pandemic, we recognize this change may feel uncomfortable for some, and we ask you to be respectful of those who prefer to continue wearing masks, particularly for those who have underlying high-risk medical conditions or live with those who do. It took time for us to adjust to life in a pandemic, and it will take time as we adjust to living with COVID as the pandemic eases. But this is another positive step toward that future.

We are deeply grateful for your engagement and compliance with masking and other safety measures to help protect each other throughout the pandemic. We’re sure this change is welcome news for many and expect we’ll see a lot more smiles around campus in the days ahead.

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

Sally Kornbluth, Ph.D.
Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor

This message was sent to all University students, faculty and staff.

Campus COVID-19 Testing Before and After Spring Break

Feb. 23, 2022

Students, Faculty and Staff,

From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we have relied on Duke’s faculty experts in infectious disease and public health to help with the design and implementation of our protocols and procedures. Based upon their recommendations and the recent positive trends in our testing results, Duke will make the following changes to our COVID-19 testing protocols in the coming weeks.

Spring Break Travel/Exit Testing:

Students and others who need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to travel can get a PCR test next week at the Bryan Center. Tests will be available from Monday, Feb. 28 through Friday, March 4 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Please inform the staff at the test site that you need an “exit test” rather than a surveillance test. A link to the test results will be sent by email or text within 24 hours.

Surveillance Testing:

Week of March 7: Limited surveillance testing will be available during the week of March 7 for those who remain on campus or are required to test weekly. Visit the Duke United website for locations and hours of operation.

Week of March 14: Following Spring Break, Duke will resume a normal surveillance testing schedule for one week for all eligible students, as well as faculty and staff. Visit the Duke United website for locations and hours of operation.

Week of March 21: Required surveillance testing for asymptomatic vaccinated students will end. Surveillance testing will continue at a limited number of sites across campus for unvaccinated students, staff and faculty who are required to test each week, as well as those who wish to do so voluntarily.

Duke launched an innovative approach for surveillance testing in August 2020 as a way to quickly identify and limit COVID-19 transmission on campus. Since then, more than 1.2 million COVID-19 tests have been administered and processed by the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. This extraordinary effort allowed Duke to quickly return to a residential experience and in-person instruction, and protected the health and safety of our community.

While the program has served us well, it is now time to adapt to the changing landscape, just as we did with prior modifications to isolation and contract tracing. This change is being made after consultation with Duke’s infectious disease experts and is based on several factors, including our high vaccination rate and the decline in positive cases in recent weeks. 

Symptomatic Testing:

Testing will remain available through either Student Health or Employee Occupational Health & Wellness for those experiencing COVID symptoms. For more information, visit the Duke United website.

We are deeply grateful for the efforts of so many during the last two years to help us manage the constant and evolving challenges of this pandemic. We have learned much and leaned on each other often. The resilience, ingenuity, and commitment each member of this community has displayed reminds us of what makes Duke so special. We are not out of the pandemic yet, but we are one step closer to reclaiming the promise of what a post-pandemic life can be.

Until then, please continue to use appropriate caution when gathering with others, and remember that face masks are still required indoors in Durham and within all Duke owned and leased facilities. Thank you.

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

This message was distributed to all Duke University students, faculty and staff.

Health and Safety Protocols Announced for Home Basketball Events

Duke University Athletics has announced health and safety protocols for men’s and women’s basketball events at Cameron Indoor Stadium this season. The policy has been developed in consultation with medical experts at Duke as well as local and state officials.

Important COVID updates for undergrads, Aug. 30

The message below is being sent to all Duke undergraduate students.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Dear students,

As announced to the Duke community this afternoon and following consultation with infectious disease experts, the university has updated its guidance on COVID-19. We are writing as a follow-up to that message with more information specifically for undergraduate students.

From that message, we know that our numbers of COVID-positive tests are going up. We also know that our near-fully vaccinated student (98%) and employee (92%) populations are protected from serious illness, and that we continue to see no evidence of transmission in our classrooms and other campus locations where all individuals are masked. However, not everyone can be protected through vaccination–this includes some of your peers and the children of faculty and staff who are under 12. This surge is also placing significant stress on the people, systems and facilities that are dedicated to protecting our health, safety and the ability of Duke to fulfill its educational mission, particularly our isolation space for on-campus students who test positive. 

As stated in today’s university message, the following new guidelines will be in effect starting Monday, August 30, and subject to review in two weeks’ time:

  • Masks will now be required on the Duke campus in all indoor and outdoor locations, unless you are exercising [outdoors] alone, actively eating or drinking, or otherwise not around others. After vaccinations, masks are the best way to prevent the spread of COVID. We have seen this both on campus and in our health system.
  • Indoor group seating at Duke Dining facilities will be temporarily suspended. All Duke Dining facilities will transition to grab and go, and more than 25 tents have been erected across the campus to provide outdoor seating for meals and other gatherings.

Additionally, the following new limitations will be placed on student activities to reduce the possibility of COVID transmission:

  • All student organization programs with 50 or more attendees need to be registered and approved through DukeGroupsThis continues a practice established last academic year. To reduce the risk of transmission, events should be held outside when possible. This policy applies to events already scheduled and posted in DukeGroups. If an event is not approved before the event is to take place, event hosts should plan to hold events virtually.
  • Undergraduate students hosting social gatherings on- or off-campus must ensure attendees are fully masked and limit attendance to no more than 50 people until further notice. Hosting larger and/or unmasked events while this policy is in place will be considered a violation of the Undergraduate Student COVID-19 Policy Plan and will result in disciplinary action for hosts and possibly for attendees.
  • We are postponing The Devil’s Gala scheduled for September 3. A smaller event will be held at the same time. More information will be available soon. 
  • We urge all students to use caution in attending events that carry greater risk of infection and transmission to others. Delta is at least 2 times more transmissible than previous COVID variants, so it takes very little time for someone to become infected while unmasked. 

Please know that the university remains committed to striking a balance between steps that reduce the spread of Delta with efforts to further your educational opportunities and ability to connect with one another, as well as your faculty, mentors, and campus resources. If you’re a returning student, please be assured that we’ve heard your feedback about ways to get this balance right, and we remain open to all students’ input and perspective as we find our way forward together.

We recognize fully that all students, like us, are eager to resume a more open and unencumbered approach to life on campus.  To get there, we have to listen to our experts in infectious disease, public health, and medicine and continue to heed their advice as part of that effort. Thank you for doing so, too. 

New Guidance on COVID-19 for the Duke Community

August 30, 2021

Dear Students and Colleagues,

We are writing today with new information and guidance on COVID-19 and the Duke University community.

Duke’s comprehensive surveillance testing program has given us detailed insight into the pervasiveness of the Delta variant in the university community regardless of vaccination status. In the last week alone, 304 undergraduates, 45 graduate students and 15 employees tested positive for COVID-19 and are isolating. All but eight of these individuals were vaccinated, and the vast majority of them were, and continue to be, asymptomatic. A small number have minor, cold- and flu-like symptoms, and none have been hospitalized.

The good news is that we are able to identify these infections early and quickly, that our near-fully vaccinated student (98%) and employee (92%) populations are protected from serious illness, and that we continue to see no evidence of transmission in our classrooms and other campus locations where all individuals are masked.

Nonetheless, this surge is placing significant stress on the people, systems and facilities that are dedicated to protecting our health, safety and the ability of Duke to fulfill its educational mission, particularly our isolation space for on-campus students who test positive. We cannot stop COVID-19, but what we can do is adapt to our local and national realities and seek to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus.

As a result, the following new guidelines will be in effect starting Monday, August 30:

  • Masks will now be required on the Duke campus in all indoor and outdoor locations, unless you are exercising [outdoors] alone, eating or drinking, or otherwise not around others. After vaccinations, masks are the best way to prevent the spread of COVID. We have seen this on campus and in our health system.
  • Indoor group seating at Duke Dining facilities will be temporarily suspended. All Duke Dining facilities will transition to grab and go, and more than 25 tents have been erected across the campus to provide outdoor seating for meals and other gatherings.
  • Given the absences in some undergraduate classes due to increased number of students in isolation, faculty teaching undergraduate courses have the option to teach remotely for the next two weeks if they would prefer. This is not a requirement but an accommodation to allow for increased flexibility as needed; those who are able to continue teaching in person should certainly do so.
  • New limitations will be placed on student activities to reduce the possibility of COVID transmissions. Individuals and groups that violate these limitations will face disciplinary consequences. Further information will be provided directly to students.
  • The COVID-19 vaccination will now be required for ALL Duke faculty and staff as a condition of employment. Details will be provided directly to those employees who have not yet submitted proof of vaccination or an approved medical or religious exemption, as well as their deans or vice presidents. As of today, 92% of our 22,136 faculty and staff are fully vaccinated.

As a reminder, every faculty and staff member can participate in the Duke surveillance testing program at any time. It is free, convenient, and can offer peace of mind to those who are concerned about exposure. For more information see the Duke United website.

We want to be clear: the problem is not our people, the problem is COVID-19. Our Duke community has been extraordinarily united and resilient in fighting, and adapting to, this pandemic over the last 19 months. Your efforts have made it possible to fulfill our educational commitment to our students, to advance knowledge and discovery through our research, and to serve our region and society.

And yet, we must continue to do more. This is a time to be prudent, to take care of ourselves and each other so we can continue our important mission, which is now more important than ever.

Go Duke,

Sally Kornbluth,

Daniel Ennis,
Executive Vice President

Jennifer Francis,
Executive Vice Provost

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President for Administration

Mary Pat McMahon,
Vice President/Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Gary Bennett,
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

This message has been sent to all Duke University students, faculty and staff.

Masks now required at outdoor events, and other COVID-related updates

Dear students,

Please pay careful attention to this email message, which was sent to faculty and staff from the Provost and VP Cavanaugh with COVID guidance. As you know, the COVID situation is changing quickly. We need to limit COVID transmission as much as possible, even among vaccinated people, in order to prevent spread to young children and to people in our community who can’t be vaccinated.

  • Masks will now be required at larger (100+ people) outdoor on-campus events (yes, this includes today’s Involvement Fair and Heatwave this Friday). This is to keep you and others safe, and we need your full cooperation so that everyone can enjoy these fun events as safely as possible. 
    • Don’t forget that masks have been required indoors at Duke since July 30—this includes in all areas of residence halls except your assigned room. Masks are also required on all buses and at bus stops.
  • Eat outdoors as much as possible, and find other ways to dine more safely. Here are some ideas:
    • Use mobile ordering to order ahead and pick up your food to go. Most Duke Dining vendors offer mobile ordering, and more will be going live soon as soon as staffing allows. 
    • Merchants-On-Points (MOPS) was just extended to deliver 24/7, instead of just late-night. Check out the current vendors on the Duke Dining website
    • Duke Dining is working with Durham food truck vendors to bring food trucks to West Campus during lunch soon, in addition to dinner. Follow Duke Dining on Instagram to find out when trucks are coming to campus!
  • As a reminder, you can always go to the Duke United website for real-time information and updates related to the university’s COVID-19 response and guidelines. 

Thanks, and go Duke! 

Student Affairs

Things to Keep in Mind as Duke Reopens this Fall

The message below is being sent to all Duke undergraduate students.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Welcome (back) Duke students! We truly missed you this summer—campus was not the same without you, and we look forward to welcoming the Class of 2025 and transfer  students this week. We are so very excited to see you on campus as Duke reopens amid a much more typical year’s atmosphere. We at Duke have spent the summer doing everything we can to restore and resume the energy, connections, and interactions we’ve missed since March 2020. 

However, as you know, the Delta variant of COVID is complicating this plan. Emerging data from Duke and national experts show that the Delta variant is highly transmissible (regardless of whether or not you’re vaccinated). We asked some of our student leaders to share some thoughts to keep in mind as we open the fall semester in the video below. 

Let’s break this down:

  • Yes, most students are at lower risk, but that doesn’t mean we can let our guard down. 
  • One reason we want to reduce infection is because we don’t know the long-term effects of COVID. You may not think it’s a big deal if you do get COVID, especially if you are vaccinated. However, no one knows the long-term effects of COVID. In short—you don’t want this.
  • We need your help in reducing spread for those who can’t be vaccinated—that includes some of your immunocompromised peers and staff and faculty with young children (who can’t be vaccinated). It is up to all of us to keep the most vulnerable among us safer.

We’re committed to creating a community in which Duke students can learn and thrive. Duke wants to support as many opportunities for you to connect with your faculty and mentors, to explore research and leadership opportunities, and just have the chance to be together and have fun.  We’re going to do everything we can to safely promote events and opportunities for connection this year, particularly outdoor events.

A few reminders of what you need to do:

  • For the time being, everyone needs to be masked while indoors, including in residential common areas. This is also a local Durham ordinance.
  • Eat outside as much as possible, or take your food to-go. We’re still seeing higher transmission rates indoors and over shared meals, so do what you can to mitigate any risk for yourself and others while eating.
  • Participate in surveillance testing weekly. Most breakthrough cases are asymptomatic or resemble a mild cold, so you might not know you’re positive without the surveillance test. Student Health will contact you within 48 hours if you’ve tested positive for COVID.

We also hope you’ll think with us about all that we’ve learned in the past 15 months. 

We have learned a lot in the past year and recently we shared some thoughts with our faculty. We’ve also been talking with students about ways many of you have built intentional practices, gained new skills, and found ways to connect to your  passions and purpose in the pandemic. How do we go forward from here and build on that learning? There will be opportunities to connect and engage this fall, and we’re eager to be in conversation with your student groups and residential communities to think about how we can encourage your growth here at Duke.

Thank you for helping us kick off this academic year as safely as possible. We can’t wait to see you at the Blue Devil Return or on the plaza soon! 

Go Duke, 

Mary Pat McMahon
Vice Provost of Student Affairs

Gary Bennett
Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education

Two Clusters of COVID Cases Identified Among Students

Duke and Durham County Department of Public Health have identified two clusters of COVID-19 cases related to gatherings of two groups of students over the last week. A “cluster” is defined by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as five or more related cases that are deemed to be in close proximity of time and location, such as a residential hall or apartment complex. 

For more information, visit the story on Duke Today.

Building Access for the Fall Semester

TO: Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers
Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President, Administration
Jim Churchman, Vice President, Supply Chain Management
RE: Building Access for Fall Semester

In preparation for the fall semester, Duke University will return to its normal building access for campus buildings effective Monday, Aug. 16. Research labs in the School of Medicine will continue to require an active DukeCard for access.

  • Buildings that are normally open to public access will return to that status on August 16. DukeCards will not be required during regular business hours.
  • Buildings such as residence halls that were in a controlled-access state before the pandemic will remain so after August 16. Any other modifications to building access should be made to the DukeCard Office.
  • Individuals who are fully vaccinated will no longer be required to complete symptom monitoring to activate their DukeCards.
  • Individuals who are NOT vaccinated WILL be required to complete symptom monitoring every day to reactivate their DukeCards.
  • All students, faculty and staff should continue to report any COVID-related symptoms using the SymMon app or by contacting Employee Occupational Health and Wellness or Student Health.
  • Schools and departments should ensure appropriate staffing in buildings during normal operating hours. Delivery companies and vendors will begin delivering packages directly to buildings that are open.
  • Numerous packages still remain unclaimed at the central receiving location set up by Procurement & Supply Chain last year at the Golden Drive Warehouse. Inquiries about missing packages should be directed to with any available tracking information and original recipient/location details. The Golden Drive Warehouse location will begin phasing out its redelivery status once the buildings are open on August 16, 2021.

Thank you for your attention to these changes.

Updated Guidelines for Eating on Campus

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

With the increasing prevalence of the COVID-19 Delta variant and the resulting spike in positive tests among Duke students and employees in recent weeks, we are making changes to our public health measures to reduce the risk of potential outbreaks. In addition to required vaccination and masking indoors, we are now updating our guidance for eating meals because communal dining has continued to be one of the primary modes of transmission.

All members of the Duke community should adhere to the following while eating together with others:

  • If you are dining with others do so outdoors if possible. You are less likely to get or spread COVID-19 while outside. Additional tents with tables have been set up on campus to provide more access to shaded areas for outdoor dining.
  • Food should not be served or provided at indoor meetings, events, conferences and other gatherings, unless an outside eating option is made available.
  • When dining indoors, remain masked at all times except when actively eating and drinking. This includes waiting in line and walking to and from an eating location.
  • Be aware of surroundings in the environment, especially indoors, when deciding where to sit while you eat. Seating at indoor tables should be limited to no more than four individuals if possible to reduce overall density.
  • Minimize periods of time where multiple people are eating within the same communal space.
  • Remember to practice good hygiene before eating, including washing or sanitizing your hands thoroughly.

This guidance is in effect until further notice.  We are monitoring campus, local and national conditions and will provide updates as warranted.

The greatest protection against severe health risks related to COVID-19 is vaccination. Anyone who has not yet been vaccinated should do so at your earliest opportunity to help protect yourself and your loved ones.  As a reminder, vaccination is required for all students, faculty and staff. It is safe, free, easily accessible to every member of the Duke community and effective. You can find more information about options to get vaccinated and answers to frequently asked questions on the Duke COVID Vaccine website.

Thank you for doing your part to protect yourself and our community, and we look forward to a safe and productive fall semester.

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

Matthew Stiegel
Ph.D., Director, Occupational and Environmental Safety Office
This message is being sent to all Duke University students, faculty and staff.

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