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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.

President Price Announces New Steps to Secure Duke’s Financial Future

Dear Colleagues,

Over these past few months, the world has seen the best of Duke. Every member of our community has risen to meet extraordinary difficulties that none of us expected when the academic year began with such promise last August. For all that, and on behalf of your colleagues around the world, I thank you. I have never been prouder to be a Blue Devil.

Even as we rise to meet the public health challenges and navigate this new world of social distancing and working from home, we must also rise to meet the financial headwinds now confronting us, both individually and collectively. As I noted last month, the fallout from the pandemic has had a significant negative effect on almost every aspect of our operations. Indeed, as predicted, every one of our sources of revenue—tuition, research grants, clinical and patient care services, private philanthropy and income from our investments and endowment—has already suffered large reductions or is expected to be quite substantially diminished in the months ahead. 

Read the full text of the message.

Guide to Return to the Workplace

The following memo was sent to University leaders and managers.

TO: Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers
FROM: Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President, Administration
RE: Guide to Return to the Workplace

As we continue planning a phased expansion of on-site operations later next month, we have developed a Guide for the Return to the Workplace to assist school and department leaders in considering guidelines to ensure a safe working environment.

The document will be one that is updated over time as conditions change and we learn more about how to best address these issues through ongoing analysis, consultation with our peers, and emergence of best practices across the country.

Coordinators have been identified by each University dean and vice president to lead the efforts within their respective areas using the policies and protocols in the guide. These coordinators will take the lead in their respective areas to identify appropriate staffing models to reduce population density in buildings, develop social distancing plans inside facilities, and coordinate requests for masks and other resources.

Please take time to review the guide to help address potential questions and concerns among staff and reinforce the steps being taken to provide a safe working environment. Duke University is taking a slow and deliberate approach to expanding operations and staffing so that we might learn from them before taking broader actions. As a result, most of the University’s workforce will continue to work remotely for the immediate future.

Update on Return to the Workplace Plans

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to provide you with a brief update regarding the planning process for Duke University’s Return to the Workplace efforts. These efforts are being carefully controlled and coordinated to ensure personal safety and mitigate potential risks of spreading COVID-19.

Team 2021, the strategy team convened by President Price to assess options and recommendations for the next academic year, continues to meet several times per week. While decisions about the fall semester will likely not be made until late June, the team is also coordinating more immediate plans to initiate the reopening of certain offices and facilities on campus.   These areas will initially include clinical services in Duke Health and research laboratories. 

While the stay-at-home orders for the state of North Carolina and Durham County’s are expected to expire on May 8 and May 15 respectively, please note we expect the majority of the University’s workforce to continue to work remotely until further notice.   

No unit or department should increase on-site staffing beyond current levels until further notice and only employees who have been specifically designated and informed by their supervisors should make preparations to return to their offices after May 15.

The University has formed a Return to the Workplace group made up of representatives designated by each dean and vice president. This group will be coordinating the process, schedule and approvals needed to ramp up activity in Duke facilities.  They will also work with their respective school, department and administrative unites to ensure appropriate social distancing practices, coordinate building controls and access, and distribute appropriate PPE and other safety resources. 

A video Q&A and a comprehensive Guide for the Return to the Workplace will be made available to all employees later this week to provide more detail on policies, practices and expectations that will need to be observed as we continue the process of restoring activity to the Duke campus and our off-campus facilities.   

We want to extend a special thanks to the thousands of front-line Duke Health staff who have continued to deliver exceptional patient care during this public health crisis, and the hundreds of University staff who are supporting the students who currently remain on campus, maintaining critical laboratories, utilities, and facilities, and providing essential operational support services to the entire Duke community. We are also deeply grateful to the countless others who are working remotely to advance our missions in new and innovative ways. 


Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President, Administration, Co-chair Team 2021
Jennifer Francis, Executive Vice Provost, Co-chair Team 2021  

This message is being sent to all Duke University faculty and staff.

New Courses for Duke Summer Session II

Dear Students,  

We are excited to announce a new and expanded schedule of more than 200 courses for Duke Summer Session II 2020. These courses are being updated on DukeHub and will be open for registration on Friday, May 1 at 9:00 am EDT.   Most of the courses will be listed by 9 am on Friday but others will be added over the next couple of days and we encourage you to keep checking DukeHub for updates until May 3rd.

All Summer Session II courses will be delivered remotely. If you were previously registered in a Duke Summer Session II course which is now being offered online, you will automatically be moved into the new course.  We will not automatically cancel your registration in these courses in order to maintain your enrollment in the class; however, we ask that you unregister through DukeHub if you no longer plan to take the online course so the spot can be made available to others. We have also maintained the wait list for all Summer Session II courses in order to preserve your position to get into a course.  

For more information about the course, fees and schedules, visit: or contact Kim Price at  

Thank you for your patience and for your strong interest in this wide array of courses available for the Duke Summer Session.


Jennifer Francis
Executive Vice Provost

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