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Message from President Price about Fall Sports at Duke

Dear Duke Students and Colleagues,

Early September is typically a time of great energy and excitement at Duke, as students and faculty challenge each other in the classroom, the campus is active with events and programs, and visitors come from all over the world to take part in our academic and cultural life.  Fall is also, of course, a very active time for our student-athletes, as well as for their fans and supporters on campus, in the community and around the world.

Over the past several months, the Atlantic Coast Conference, of which Duke is a founding member, has carefully assessed the prospects to continue intercollegiate sports in this most complicated of years.  An ACC Medical Advisory Group – which included physicians from Duke and other universities in the conference – worked over the summer to advise the member institutions on the risks and options for fall activity, and to develop comprehensive standards for testing, hygiene, medical monitoring and other practices that are essential for students to compete safely in team and individual sports.  After careful review, the ACC adopted those guidelines and committed to begin the season in all six fall sports (football, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, field hockey and cross country).

After consultation with our own medical faculty experts, Duke has decided to take further steps to mitigate the risk to the health and safety of our student-athletes, our communities, and the continuity of our educational and research missions.  In advance of the start of competition this week, and knowing that many have questions about intercollegiate athletics in these challenging times, I want to take a moment to inform you about the safety protocols that we have now put in put in place:

  • All student-athletes, related staff and coaches participating in football, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball and field hockey, which have been identified as higher risk by the ACC Medical Advisory Group, will have daily COVID-19 testing for the duration of their seasons.
  • To protect against potential spread of COVID-19 in our residence halls and the broader population, student-athletes competing in those five sports will be required to temporarily sequester to designated residential areas following each home or away game until testing and medical monitoring confirms that they are cleared to return to the community.  Student-athletes will receive all academic, wellness and mental health support services, as well as access to Student Affairs staff.
  • All teams will travel by charter bus or plane and, to the extent possible, will depart and return to campus on the same day.  Only student athletes and essential coaches and staff will be permitted to travel to the games and, once on-site, Duke student-athletes, coaches and staff must strictly comply with distancing requirements, stay in areas separated from others, and not interact socially with members of the opposing team, spectators, or fans except for immediate family members.
  • As announced earlier, spectators will not be permitted at any Duke games.  Attendance from the visiting team will be limited to essential personnel as determined by the ACC.

We are immensely proud of our student-athletes and celebrate their dedication to academic and athletic success.  But we never lose sight of the fact that they are, first and foremost, Duke students.  Thus, student-athletes who choose for any reason not to participate in competition this year will continue to receive their scholarships, financial aid and other services, and they will maintain their academic and residential standing as well as their eligibility to participate in future athletic seasons.

I want to stress that these are our initial plans.  As with every other aspect of this global pandemic, we will remain vigilant and flexible, monitor outcomes, and prepare to make changes as we learn from our experiences and others around the country.  Our experience with fall sports will help inform planning for winter and spring sports as well.  If conditions warrant further restrictions, a pause or even suspension of activities, then we will not hesitate to take that action.  Every decision we make will be based, first and foremost, on safeguarding the health and safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and the Duke community.

This has been and will continue to be a difficult semester in many respects; but in just as many ways it has been wonderfully inspiring.  I’ve been inspired by our dedicated faculty and staff, including those many who have been supporting Duke Athletics through these complicated times, in meeting successfully the numerous challenges posed by the pandemic.  And I have been inspired by way our Duke students, including our student-athletes, have stepped up to support and protect each other and our community so responsibly by adapting to the public-health demands of the moment. We are, on and off the field, a Duke united. For that, and for all you do, I am deeply grateful.


Vincent E. Price

Testing Update: August 17, 2020

Duke University’s comprehensive COVID-19 testing program has administered 5,765 tests to the students who have returned to campus since Aug. 2, school officials announced Monday, the first day of undergraduate classes for the fall semester.

A total of 11 positive results have been reported and those students are in mandatory isolation. Any student who tests positive is required to isolate until getting medical clearance to access campus facilities. These 11 include the four positive results reported by Duke last week.

Read the full announcement on Duke Today.

Pool Testing for Undergraduate Students

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Dear undergraduate students,

We are writing to share information about additional measures the University is taking to protect the health and safety of the campus community during the fall semester. As undergraduate classes get underway next week, the University will begin ongoing testing of students and other members of the campus community who are here in the Durham area and not exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19. These additional tests will be conducted regularly beginning the week of Aug. 17.

In addition to the testing of all students coming to campus and the daily symptom monitoring, this additional step will help us identify and respond to the potential spread of the virus and limit the potential for local outbreaks. This ongoing testing process will begin with undergraduate students residing on campus. It will be expanded in subsequent weeks to include other Duke student populations and then faculty and staff who regularly interact with students on campus.

The self-administered process should take about 5 minutes, and testing sites will be established in multiple locations on East and West campuses for convenience. Collection of samples will involve a testing participant inserting a cotton swab into each nasal passage and rotating it against the inner nasal lining in a circle three times. The swab does not need to be inserted far—just enough so the cotton tip is no longer visible. The swab is then placed into a collection tube with a bar code, which will be placed in a bag and then deposited into a cooler at the collection station. Site coordinators at each location will ensure these tests are transported to a nearby lab and any positive test result will be communicated back to the student within 48 hours.

This testing process will be conducted throughout the fall semester. Duke hopes to make this as quick and convenient as possible for all participants, and it is critical that you participate to ensure we can maintain on-campus activities during the pandemic. Participants will need to bring their DukeCard ID or their mobile phone with the SymMon mobile app to one of the many testing sites that will be conveniently located across campus.

If you are selected for pool testing, you’ll receive an email and text message alerting you to your day. Please be sure to attend carefully to these texts and plan accordingly. You can find more information about the process, testing sites and answers to frequently asked questions on the Duke United website.

Thank you and go Duke,

John Vaughn, M.D.
Director of Student Health Services

Mary Pat McMahon
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Gary G. Bennett
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Expectations and Recommendations for Faculty

This email was sent to all faculty

August 7, 2020

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

On Tuesday, you received a message from President Price about a key dimension of our university’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic: the Duke Compact, as well as a link to attest to that statement of community expectations.

I write today to provide you with a document that describes in greater detail our requirements and expectations for faculty members who will be coming to campus at any point this academic year. We ask that you read this document in conjunction with the Compact.  The goal of the provisions in both the Compact and associated document is to mitigate the public health risks created by the pandemic to every extent possible.

This document reflects extensive input from faculty members, school deans, and the Executive Committee of Academic Council, along with our public health and infectious disease experts.  We know that many of you will have questions about aspects of these policies.  Some of these may already be answered through the Compact’s Quick Reference Guide.

Please send any queries not answered in the Guide to the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement.  We will be updating FAQs as new issues emerge.

As President Price noted in his Tuesday email, we remain appreciative of everything that Duke community members are doing to keep our university healthy and safe at this challenging moment.


Sally Kornbluth

President Price Provides Update on Plans for Fall Semester

President Vincent Price updated the Duke community on safety and health plans for the fall semester, reporting that Duke would continue on the path to resuming residential activity and outlining the changes in student and campus life that will enable students to safely return to classes on campus.

Read more on Duke Today.

Update on Plans for a Return to the Workplace

June 25, 2020

Duke Faculty and Staff,

We are writing to provide an update on our phased return to the workplace and the gradual reopening of offices and buildings on campus.

Consistent with our earlier guidance, university staff members should continue to work remotely unless they are specifically designated to return to the workplace. In addition, no university-sponsored or hosted events will be permitted on campus through at least the end of July.

We are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Durham and North Carolina as we continue to implement Duke’s plan to safely return students, faculty and staff to campus.  Right now, we are currently in Phase 2 of the reopening process and hope to begin Phase 3 in July: 

  • Phase 1 (March – May): Critical Operations Only: essential healthcare, police/security, utilities, continued student support for remaining residential students, dining services, limited housekeeping, payroll, etc. 
  • Phase 2 (May – June): Expanded Clinics & Research Labs: additional healthcare personnel, principal investigators, research staff, etc. 
  • Phase 3 (July – August): Business Continuity Operations: business support operations, faculty offices, student/academic support services, etc. 
  • Phase 4 (August – December): Fall Semester Operations: necessary personnel to support student services & academic programming for fall semester, etc. 

While the state of North Carolina has recorded a high level of positive COVID-19 cases, we are in regular contact with public health officials and experts from the Duke School of Medicine and Duke Health System and remain confident that our plan continues to protect health and safety while facilitating the resumption of teaching, residential life, research and health care services, among other things.

As a reminder, all members of our community must wear a face covering while on Duke leased or owned property, unless you are eating/drinking or alone in a confined room such as an office. (Please note that confined spaces do notinclude meeting rooms, break rooms or shared environments, including buses.) By all accounts, wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distancing are the most effective ways to limit the spread of the virus.

Duke will provide three reusable cloth face coverings to every student, faculty and staff member to use. Distribution of these reusable face coverings for faculty and staff will be managed through the Return to the Workplace Coordinators for each school or department; Student Affairs will coordinate distribution to students.

We encourage you to read the detailed Guide for the Return to the Workplace. The guide covers important details regarding staffing, health and safety protocols, using Duke facilities, and resources for support.

Thank you for your ongoing support of your teams in helping Duke respond to the unique challenges from the pandemic.


Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President, Administration

Jennifer Francis
Executive Vice Provost

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

Keeping Campus Transit Rolling, Safely

Duke is instituting health and safety measures on all campus buses to protect operators and passengers from COVID-19 infection.

In preparing buses for the return of students, staff and faculty for the fall semester, crews in Parking & Transporation Services have followed a protocol since May ranging from a three-step disinfectant process to requiring physical distancing aboard all 25 buses and the rest of Duke’s transit vehicles.

Read more

Invitation to Faculty to Submit Comments for Fall Planning

This message was sent by email to all Duke Faculty on June 11, 2020

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

Summer is usually a time of relaxation and restoration after the intensity of the academic year, and an opportunity to advance your research and scholarship.  This particular summer, of course, is anything but relaxing.   I know that you have devoted considerable time and energy to transitioning your classes and research to the new work-from-home and remote teaching realities and that preparing for the fall will require continued hard work.  I want to offer my sincere thanks to every member of the faculty for your extraordinary dedication to your students, your scholarship and to Duke.

In planning to meet our goal of welcoming students back to campus, President Price and I, along with many members of the university and academic administration, have engaged with our faculty colleagues in the schools, on various committees, and the Academic Council to talk about the various options for the fall semester.

Since there are many aspects of the upcoming semester that are still being refined, from classroom configuration to campus dining, I invite you to the share your questions and concerns on this open-ended survey form (open until Wednesday, June 17 at 11:59pm EDT).  Your submissions will be anonymous unless you choose to identify yourself and will be shared with the appropriate university leaders for consideration and, as needed, action.  If you have questions or concerns about specific situations or issues, I encourage you to contact your dean or department chair.

I want to reiterate here that our foremost priority is the health and safety of every member of the Duke community, including faculty, staff, and students as well as our families and neighbors.  And as we noted last month, you will not be required to teach on campus if you have concerns about your health and safety, nor will you have to disclose your personal health information or seek special accommodations if you choose to teach through an online or remote delivery.

Thank you again for being part of this inspiring academic community.  I look forward to hearing from you, and to seeing you either virtually or, hopefully soon, in person.


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

Update for Faculty from President Price and Provost Kornbluth on Fall 2020

Dear Faculty Colleagues,

We are writing to update you on the university’s plans for the upcoming academic year – a year that will be unlike any other in Duke’s history.

First, though, we want to again thank you all for your incredibly valuable work over these past few months.  You have met the many challenges that we have all confronted with creativity and determination, and we deeply appreciate—as we know our students also appreciate—your commitment to Duke and our educational, research, and service missions.

As it has from the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of our faculty, staff, students, and the Durham community has been our paramount priority and will always drive our decisions and actions.  Countless members of the Duke faculty and staff have been working around the clock for the past several months to get our university ready to deliver on our missions safely.  Already we have reopened – deliberately, thoughtfully and safely – numerous research laboratories and clinical practices, bringing several thousand faculty, staff, and graduate students back to campus with new safety practices; and we are being informed every day by these experiences and will make continuous modifications and improvements.

We are still on track to make final decisions by the end of June about many details regarding the upcoming academic year.  But we can provide the following information now and ask for your assistance and engagement to prepare for the coming year.  This information was developed in consultation with a variety of ad-hoc faculty working groups, through the Team 2021 coordinating group that has been meeting regularly since April, and was shared and discussed with academic leaders across our schools, with the Academic Council on Thursday, and with the Academic Programs Committee on Friday.

Our goal is to have as many students who are able and willing to attend on campus for the fall semester, but only if it can be done safely.  We are working with our faculty and academic leaders to prepare a dynamic and flexible educational experience, and with medical and public health experts, as well as with specialists in residential and classroom facilities, food service, sanitation and behavior to reinvent our living and learning spaces and adapt to the new realities that we will confront in all aspects of our lives.  Our policies and procedures are under careful development, and final protocols will align with the latest and most reliable scientific information, experience, and local, state, and federal guidelines.  We are planning at this point to put the following changes and policies in place:

  • All members of the Duke community will be required to wear masks in classroom and public settings and practice physical distancing as mandated by local law and university policy.
  • All students living on campus will be tested for COVID-19 before they are permitted to begin classes and will have to observe the testing, contact tracing, and quarantine protocols established by the Duke, Durham County, and the State of North Carolina should they become ill or exposed to COVID-19.
  • All faculty, students and staff will have to complete daily health checks through a monitoring app and report concerning symptoms to Student Health and Wellness or employee health, as appropriate.
  • All students, unless on approved travel, will be expected to remain in the Durham area during the semester.
  • While many co-curricular and extra-curricular activities (lectures, performances, club activities,  events) will be held virtually, there will be opportunities for in-person gatherings that meet university and public health guidelines.
  • On-campus dining venues will provide additional take-out options and limited in-person service using reservation systems.
  • Student, faculty, staff, and visitor access to campus facilities will be restricted and new guidelines on space configuration, capacity, traffic flow, cleaning and sanitation protocols will be in place.

We take each of these commitments seriously at all levels.  For students, failure to adhere to these guidelines will be grounds for disciplinary and other actions necessary to protect the health and safety of the Duke community.

Our academic calendar will change to maximize the time on campus, to facilitate our ability to clean and disinfect campus facilities, and to minimize the disruptions and potential health hazards of travel during the semester.  Fall semester classes for undergraduates will begin a week earlier than originally planned, on Monday, August 17, and final exams will conclude before Thanksgiving.  There will not be a Fall Break in 2020.  The spring semester will begin a week later than normal, on Tuesday, January 19, and final exams will be held the week of April 26. Commencement for the class of 2021 will take place on Sunday, May 9.  There will be no Spring Break in 2021.  Graduate school-based programs will largely follow the same calendar; professional programs are being planned separately and will announce specific planning as it is completed.

No faculty will be required to teach on campus if they have concerns about their health and safety.  Nor will any faculty have to disclose their personal health concerns.

All Duke courses will be offered in one of several formats to ensure inclusivity and adaptability. In-person instruction, conducted in classrooms on the Duke campus will be coupled with online versions to facilitate remote student inclusion. Fully online courses will be offered that take advantage of the best pedagogical support and technology available to Duke.  It is critical that our courses are as inclusive as possible, particularly considering that many students may be unable to join us on campus.  Accordingly, all in-person classes will also have an online version so that students who cannot be on campus, or who have to be quarantined or return home, will still be able to take the course without interruption.

Classroom space will be limited by new requirements for physical distancing, cleaning, building access, and capacity. We expect to use a number of atypical venues, including theaters, conference and commons rooms, studios, and tents.  But even with those new spaces, we will not be able to accommodate large lecture classes, which will have to be organized into smaller sections or restructured into flipped or hybrid courses. We will also have a new course schedule to ensure that we are able to clean and disinfect our classrooms and manage the flow of pedestrian traffic across campus.

The changes in the academic calendar and classroom space mean that faculty and schools will need to revise their course schedules, and students will need to re-register for the fall semester.  The university will provide the calendar framework (classroom space and daily timeslots) by June 4 and ask that the new schedule be submitted by the schools by June 19. In supplying departments and schools with the revised schedules, we will attempt to provide options that are as closely aligned with existing plans as possible.  Detailed decisions on curricula and courses will be made locally; we expect and want departments and schools to optimize decisions about what gets taught, by whom, and when.

Robust support is available to assist faculty and departments in adjusting their courses for these new delivery formats. In the coming days, we will share information about a new online resource that will help you re-shape your courses — whether seminars, mid-sizes, or large lectures — using the best available evidence-based pedagogical recommendations. In addition, our colleagues at Duke Learning Innovation have prepared multiple tiers of support to help faculty apply course design principles for the full range of course types offered by our faculty. They will be offering online course design guidance, a regular series of workshops, and instructional design consultations for particular courses.

Finally, and it bears repeating, all of this is subject to change based on medical advice, local conditions and laws, and variables that may not even be known to us today.  Such is the nature of life in and after a pandemic.

But regardless of the circumstances, we know we will get through this.  It won’t be easy, and it won’t look anything like we’re used to experiencing.  But we’ll get through it because our people—faculty, students, staff, families and friends — are thoughtful, collaborative, creative, adaptable, and committed to excellence. We will get through it because we are Duke.

Thanks again for all of the many ways you are advancing our university’s important work through these challenging times. And please accept our very best wishes for your health and safety.


Vincent E. Price

Sally A. Kornbluth

Majority of University Staff to Work Remotely Through June

The following memo was send to University leaders and managers.

TO: Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers
FROM: Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President, Administration
RE: Update on Plans for a Return to the Workplace

As North Carolina and Durham continue to revise restrictions for public and business activity and Duke gradually reopens clinical facilities and research laboratories, we expect the majority of university staff will continue to work remotely through the month of June.

With the successful reopening of labs in the School of Medicine, Pratt School of Engineering, Nicholas School of the Environment and the Duke Marine Lab, several thousand faculty and staff have returned to the campus under controlled circumstances and with new protocols for safety, cleaning, scheduling, social distancing, symptom monitoring and testing.

University officials will be monitoring this new activity to ensure that the health and safety of all employees and students are protected and will make necessary adjustments as the reopening continues.

Each school and administrative department now has a Return to the Workplace Coordinator who is assessing staffing models, space configuration, scheduling, social distancing requirements, cleaning and safety procedures, and signage to facilitate the expansion of on-site work as departments are approved to reopen and staff their facilities. Any individual who is approved to return to the workplace will be required to submit a symptom monitoring assessment daily and wear a mask while on-site.

Please take a moment to review the Guide for the Return to the Workplace as we gain more experience in addressing specific needs of departments and more information will be made available over time.

Thank you for your ongoing support of your teams in helping Duke respond to the unique challenges of this time.

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