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Cluster of COVID-19 Cases Reported from Birthday Party

Duke has identified a cluster of COVID-19 cases related to recent travel and attendance at a birthday party on Feb. 15 at an off-campus apartment. 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. 

Read more on Duke Today.

Cluster of COVID-19 Cases Reported from Birthday Party

Duke has identified a cluster of COVID-19 cases related to attendance of birthday party at an off-campus apartment. 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. 

See full article on Duke Today.

Student Conduct Updates Feb 4, 2021

The message is being sent to all Duke undergraduate students.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Dear students,

As we did in the fall, we will be sharing regular updates on COVID conduct and compliance this semester. We are proud that the majority of you are working so hard every day to keep your peers and the Duke community safe. As we shared earlier this week, we are at a critical point this semester and we need every single student consistently following the Duke Compact. 

The choices you make each day have a real impact on the health and safety of those around you, and have real implications when it comes to accountability. 

Included below is our first spring semester COVID conduct and compliance update. But before that, we are sharing a few other Student Conduct updates from Jeanna McCullers, Senior Associate Dean and Director of the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. 

A new name: Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards

The Office of Student Conduct is now the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards (OSCCS). This is not just a name change. This shift is a reflection of the work the OSCCS deans have been engaging in thus far, and a look forward at the direction of the office. 

Community is at the heart at what we do.

This means we think intentionally about our work and its impact and effects on the campus and Durham communities. We are a part of the university community and consider our role as a conduit—helping to build or bring community together to uphold standards that make community possible and conducive for everyone to thrive.Thanks for engaging in this work with us and please provide suggestions and feedback as we grow!

COVID Amnesty Policy

Reporting incidents of sexual misconduct is vital to maintaining a campus climate free from harassment and sexual violence. Therefore, if the university first learns of a violation(s) of the Duke Compact or the Undergraduate Student COVID Policy Plan as part of a student reporting sexual misconduct, the complainant and witnesses will not be charged with violating these policies. 

We do not want you to avoid reporting sexual misconduct with a fear you may face disciplinary action.

More FAQs related to new Title IX policies and how they apply in Duke policies and procedures can be found on the Office for Institutional Equity website.

It’s a new day for the Student Conduct Board

It’s a new day for the Student Conduct Board

photo of AG Chancellor
Student Conduct Board Co-Chairs A.G. Chancellor and Madison Alvarado (both T’21)

Board Co-chairs A.G. Chancellor T’21 and Madison Alvarado T’21 (both pictured above) are thinking outside the box, revising the selection process for board members and expanding the role of the board through opportunities to engage with the Duke community in meaningful ways beyond hearing panels. They have participated in restorative justice training with Ombudsperson Ada Gregory, and are working with Dean Victoria Krebs to develop OSCCS circle processes as one form of adaptable resolution for cases where students are accepting responsibility and seeking to repair harm.Student Board members will now have the option to participate in trainings to hear cases of discrimination and harassment as well as training for restorative justice and circle processes. We are also developing opportunities for the 2021-2022 academic year for board members to participate in educational outreach opportunities across campus to explore and share trends and strategies for mitigating potential policy violations.

Compliance and Conduct Updates

As we have noted in previous messages, the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards conducts a thorough review of all allegations against students and organizations. If students are found responsible, sanctions depend on the severity of the violations and students’ prior disciplinary history.

 Since January 1, OSCCS has taken the following actions:

8 — Students referred for educational interventions for less severe infractions of the Duke Compact — these outcomes are not part of a student’s disciplinary record.

17 —  Individual sanctions implemented by either the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards or Housing and Residence Life. These actions may become a part of the student’s conduct record and in some cases reportable to graduate schools, study away programs, employers, and other university programs in which a student’s disciplinary record may be a factor in participation.

— Campus organizations placed on interim suspension.

— Administrative Action Hearings held for flagrant violations of COVID policy expectations and the Duke Compact. Flagrant violations include: hosting gatherings, failing to follow quarantine and isolation protocols to protect fellow students, and repeated violations of COVID expectations. 

— Student Conduct Board hearings which have resulted in suspension of one semester or more, along with other varying sanctions. In these cases, some students will be unable to enroll (remotely or in person) in future semesters. 

COVID reminder: Duke-UNC Game

We know it’s a bummer that we can’t celebrate a win over UNC by having a bonfire on Abele Quad (NO post-game bonfire this year, regardless of outcome; individuals participating in or initiating unofficial bonfire celebrations may face prosecution and compromise future bonfire permits), or even by gathering to watch the game together like we may have pre-COVID. Just remember, the sooner we practice safe behavior and get through this pandemic, the sooner we can *light up* these traditions again.

Thank you and go Duke,

Gary G. Bennett
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education  

Mary Pat McMahon
Vice Provost for Student Affairs 

Jeanna McCullers
Senior Associate Dean & Director,
Office of Student Conduct & Community Standards

University Masking Guidance

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

Renewed discussions regarding the potential benefit of double masking on source control and prevention of COVID-19 transmission have prompted questions about whether changes will be made to the current University masking policy. Eleven months of experience has demonstrated that robust infection prevention protocols such as masking, maintaining physical distance, limiting gatherings, and washing hands regularly have been effective in limiting the transmission of COVID-19 on campus.

At this time, we are not aware of a well-designed study that has been conducted to scientifically answer the question, “are two masks better at preventing COVID-transmission than one?” One study demonstrates the impact of wearing a well-fitting mask to improve source control and how wearing an overlying mask may improve overall mask fit. Logically, having additional layers of barrier protection over the nose and mouth should reduce particle dispersion.

With variants of the virus that cause COVID-19 now circulating, many are looking for ways to augment the infection prevention strategies in place – double masking is one such strategy. In an effort to support this approach, Duke will make available disposable medical masks on campus for students, faculty, staff and visitors who want them. These masks can be obtained at any of the surveillance testing sites on campus.

As we strive to continuously update our COVID-19 guidance to keep in step with the scientific community, we have updated masking guidance language as follows. We will continue to closely monitor COVID-19 infections among Duke community members and, should we see any concerning trends or signals, will reevaluate our recommendations below:

  • Double masking is optional at this time. Duke students, faculty, staff, and visitors are still required to wear a mask in all outdoor public settings where social distancing measures cannot be maintained (even briefly), and at all times in shared spaces indoors. Should individuals choose to wear a second mask, they may place a Duke-issued medical mask over the top of their own mask. Wearing the Duke-issued medical mask as the outer layer provides a fluid-resistant barrier. Duke-issued medical masks will be available at any of the surveillance testing sites on campus.

In addition, the proper fit of a mask improves its effectiveness. Simple mask modifications can be made to help improve its fit, and thereby improve source control. There are many options to make your mask fit better if it is too loose.

  • This video demonstrates one way to make your mask tighter.
  • A second option is to simply twist the straps of your Duke-issued mask before you put it on so that the elastic is in a crisscross.
  • Another option is to use a plastic clip to pull the straps tighter behind your head.

More information about proper use of masks is available on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.


Matthew Stiegel, Ph.D.
Director, Occupational and Environmental Safety Office

Becky Smith, MD,
Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases and International Health, Medical Director, Duke Infection Prevention and Hospital Epidemiology

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

Important Undergrad COVID-19 Update

This message was sent to all undergraduate students on February 2, 2021

Dear students,

We are writing today to let you know what your Duke community and your peers need from you to ensure we can go through the semester as planned.

We are at a critical point in our efforts to contain COVID transmission among Duke students both on and off campus in Durham. The actions you take each day have a direct impact on the health and safety of those around you.

Please watch and pay close attention to the information included in the video below.  

  • Residential students: Watch for additional follow-up opportunities and floor meetings to review this information later this week.
  • Off-campus students: Let us know if you have questions. The actions you take each day have a direct impact on how we go through the semester, too, and we want to make sure you have the information you need right now. 

Please let us know if you have questions, and thanks for being part of this team. 

Go Duke,

Mary Pat McMahon
Vice Provost of Student Affairs

Gary Bennett 
Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education 

View the original message here

Information about Summer 2021 Plans for UG Students

The message is being sent to all Duke undergraduate students.

January 28, 2021

Dear undergraduate students,

We are writing with some important news about Duke’s plans for Summer 2021. Here are the highlights:

  • Summer Sessions I and II will include on-campus, in-person classes as well as remote offerings.
  • Duke-supported outgoing undergraduate summer travel—both global and domestic—will be suspended.
  • Duke will offer expanded in-person and remote co-curricular programming, through existing and new programs currently in development.
  • All undergraduate students participating in summer courses will be able to live in Duke campus housing.
  • For the first time, students participating in many Duke co-curricular programs—including summer internships, research, service, and civic engagement programs—will be eligible for Duke campus housing, based on availability.

Registration for Summer Session I and II courses will be delayed for a few weeks in order to provide time for these changes to be broadly communicated and to allow for additional courses and activities to be considered. The new Summer Session registration dates are:

  • February 22nd—shopping carts (book bags) open
  • March 1st—registration opens

Given the extent of global travel restrictions and the uncertainties around vaccinations, Duke will suspend all outgoing undergraduate Duke-supported travel—both global and domestic—this summer. This includes programs like Study Abroad and Duke Engage. We know that this decision impacts many popular programs and will disrupt students’ summer plans. However, Duke is developing and expanding alternative student summer opportunities—including summer coursework, research programs, professional development workshops, and virtual internship opportunities. We encourage you to check the Keep Exploring website for updates on co-curricular and experiential programs. We plan to restart global travel activities as soon as it is safe and feasible to do so, given local and international travel restrictions.

Students enrolled in in-person programming on campus this summer will be required to participate in COVID-19 testing and observe all COVID-19 protocols, which will include masking and social-distancing.

We have created a FAQ that provides further details about Duke’s summer plans: Summer Session FAQ. If you have additional questions, please contact

As always, many thanks for all you’re doing to support and keep our community safe during these uncertain times.
Best regards,

Sally Kornbluth
Jennifer Francis
Executive Vice Provost 
Gary Bennett
Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education 
Mary Pat McMahon
Vice Provost of Student Affairs

Faculty FAQ about Summer Session 2021

A new set of FAQ about Summer Session 2021 for Faculty have been posted to the Keep Teaching site. A link to the FAQ is here.

Governor Extends Modified Stay-at-Home Order

Governor Roy Cooper announced today that he would extend the state’s current modified stay at home order for four weeks, through February 28, 2021.

The extended executive order continues to require restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, personal care businesses and other establishments to close from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and prohibits alcohol sales after 9 p.m. Exceptions include traveling to and from work, obtaining food, medical care, fuel, or social services, and taking care of a family member.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services secretarial directive still remains in effect, instructing people to stay home and only leave for essential purposes.

Updated Priority Distribution for COVID-19 Vaccination

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

Today, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced changes to the criteria for priority distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to include individuals 65 years of age or older in Group 2. In addition, DHHS announced a modification to Group 1 to include all healthcare workers who work in a healthcare setting.

Faculty and staff who meet this new criteria will receive an email from Duke Employee Occupational Health inviting them to schedule an appointment for vaccination at one of the three employee vaccination clinics located at our three hospitals.  Eligible staff will be able to select the location most convenient for them. Only employees are eligible to be vaccinated at our employee clinics. We are not able to vaccinate employee dependents or others at these sites.

The expansion of the Group 2 criteria to include those 65 years of age and older applies to Duke Health patients and the general public, as well. We will continue our current approach to scheduling vaccination appointments through MyChart for this target population.   

At this time, those who do not meet the updated criteria, including those younger than 65 years of age who are living, working or studying on campus, are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

We continue to receive a multitude of messages and questions about when individuals can be vaccinated. The criteria for vaccination are dictated by the state and are dynamic. We will notify you directly to schedule an appointment once you are eligible for vaccination. In the meanwhile, please monitor the Duke COVID Vaccine website to review the details for the priority distribution plan and answers to frequently asked questions.


Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President, Administration

Carol Epling, MD, MSPH
Director, Employee Occupational Health and Wellness

Gail Shulby, RN, MA, CPPS
Chief of Staff to the Executive Vice President, Duke Health

Cameron R. Wolfe, MBBS (Hons), MPH, FIDSA
Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Duke Health

Co-Leaders of the Duke COVID Vaccination Work Group

Update on COVID-19 Vaccination Plans for Duke Community

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students,

While there is much excitement about the COVID-19 vaccine and the potential to bring an end to this pandemic, we ask for your continued patience as the distribution process will take many months. In the meantime, please continue to mask, socially distance, monitor your symptoms, and use good hand hygiene.

The State of North Carolina has established updated priorities for vaccination based on the CDC guidelines. As part of the initial roll out, more than 20,000 members of the Duke community are included in Phase 1a, including Duke health care workers, university COVID research teams, and other staff members whose roles present a high risk for exposure to COVID-19, such as police officers working in the emergency department. To date, more than 12,000 doses of vaccine have been administered. We are in the process of scheduling appointments for the remainder of this phase, as well as for the second doses of the Pfizer vaccine that must be administered approximately 21 days after the initial dose.

The state has authorized vaccination providers to begin vaccinating the first group of the Phase 1b population, which is limited to those who are 75 years of age or older. This process is underway, and Duke faculty and staff who are 75 years of age or older have been invited to schedule an appointment for vaccination. Duke Health has more than 100,000 patients who meet this criterion as well as many others in the broader community, so it will take time and additional vaccine supply to complete vaccination of this group. Duke Health is not yet scheduling appointments for other groups in Phase 1b, including Group 2 (Health care and frontline workers essential to the COVID response who are 50 years of age or older) and Group 3 (Frontline workers of any age and health care workers of any age, regardless of whether they work directly with COVID-19 patients) as the state has yet to indicate when progression to these groups will be authorized.

Individuals who are not designated in the initial phases – including students, faculty and staff without high risk for exposure or increased risk for severe illness – will likely be eligible to receive vaccinations later in the spring or early summer. For that reason, we urge everyone, including those who have been vaccinated, to continue to wear masks, keep at least 6-feet of distance, wash hands regularly, and avoid gatherings with people who do not live with you.

North Carolina and the nation are seeing the highest levels of COVID infection and hospitalizations since the pandemic first began. While the vaccine offers hope for an end to this pandemic, the speed at which it happens will be directly related to our collective ability to adhere to public safety guidelines that limit the spread of the virus.

Thank you for what you have done and continue to do during this extraordinary time to keep yourself and other members of our community safe. You can find more information about the vaccine, including resources and answers to common questions, please visit the Duke COVID-19 Vaccine website.


Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President, Administration

Carol Epling, MD, MSPHz
Director, Employee Occupational Health and Wellness

Gail Shulby, RN, MA, CPPS
Chief of Staff to the Executive Vice President, Duke Health

Cameron R. Wolfe, MBBS (Hons), MPH, FIDSA
Associate Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases,

Duke HealthCo-Leaders of the Duke COVID Vaccination Work Group

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