Category: For Students Page 3 of 17

COVID-19 Booster Shot to be Required for Students, Faculty and Staff

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

The Omicron variant has now emerged within the Durham community, and it is expected to quickly become the dominant strain as COVID-19 cases continue a rapid spike across the country. 

We are closely monitoring national, local and campus conditions in consultation with our infectious disease and public health specialists to determine if we need to make any changes in plans for the start of the Spring semester in January.

In the meantime, it is vital that we take the necessary steps to keep our campus and community safe.  Effective immediately, Duke University, Duke University Health System and the Private Diagnostic Clinic will require all students and employees to provide proof of receiving the COVID-19 booster shot in January or as soon as they are eligible under CDC and state guidelines.

More than 20,000 faculty and staff and nearly 4,000 students have already received their booster shots. For those who have not already done so, we strongly encourage you to get your booster shot as soon as you are eligible and submit the documentation to update your records.

You can find options to get a booster shot anywhere in the country using Vaccines.gov. For those in or around Durham, you can visit the Duke COVID Vaccine website to find options at Duke facilities across the region. For those who are unable to receive a booster shot before returning to campus after the winter break, additional opportunities will be made available on campus in January.

The CDC has said that individuals can choose any of the three boosters now authorized regardless of their original shot. Duke medical experts suggest that anyone who received the J&J vaccine preferentially get a booster shot of either Pfizer or Moderna, which have been proven highly effective in preventing infection and severe illness. 

Booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and free. While existing data suggests the Omicron variant appears to cause fewer cases of severe illness, it is also much more contagious than the Delta variant and can spread much more quickly, threatening our education, research, and healthcare activities. Getting the booster can help protect you, your friends, and your colleagues, as well as ensure that our hospital and clinical resources are available to support the community during a time of urgent need.

Guidelines and details for compliance will be shared in the coming days and will outline appropriate timelines consistent with current guidelines. But we wanted to provide you with advance notice of our plans so that you can take action as soon as possible.

These steps will help limit a potential outbreak on our campus and in our community and protect those most vulnerable to this virus. Additional information and resources, including options to get a booster shot, can found on the Duke COVID Vaccine website.

Sincerely,

Sally Kornbluth
Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor

Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President, Administration

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

Booster Shots, Return to Campus, and Spring Protocols for Students

The message is being sent to all Duke undergraduate students.

Friday, December 10, 2021Dear students, As fall term draws to an end, we want to provide some information and guidance as you depart for winter break to help us start the spring semester as successfully and safely as possible.

Booster Shots:

  • During winter break, you are strongly encouraged to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster if you have not done so already and are eligible based on the date of your last primary immunization dose (6 months after your second dose of Moderna/Pfizer, 2 months after single dose of Johnson & Johnson). Duke has not yet decided whether to require the booster shot and will continue assessing case trends and activity when students return.
  • If you get your COVID booster dose outside of Duke, go to the “Student Health Gateway” to upload your booster documentation.

Return to Campus:

  • If you are traveling internationally, pay close attention to testing requirements for re-entry into the United States. These requirements may change rapidly and with little notice. An up-to-date listing of worldwide travel restrictions and screening requirements is available in the COVID-19 section of Duke’s International SOS portal.
  • If you are traveling domestically, we strongly encourage you to get a COVID test within 72 hours before traveling back to campus for the spring semester.
  • If you test positive for COVID during winter break, notify Duke Student Health by emailing your test result to dshcheckin@duke.edu and isolate for 10 days before returning.
  • Upon your return to Durham, avoid large crowded indoor gatherings. We have seen that these types of gatherings, especialy right after many have traveled, lead to a high risk of COVID super-spreader events, even among those who are fully vaccinated.

Spring Semester Protocols:

  • Required COVID surveillance testing for asymptomatic students will resume on January 3 and continue until further notice.
  • If you develop possible COVID symptoms during the spring semester, notify Duke Student Health by registering your symptoms in the Duke SymMon app. A case management nurse will cal you to give you further guidance and schedule a COVID test for you at the Student Wellness Building.
  • A 10-day isolation period will remain in effect for anyone who tests postive for COVID, even if fully vaccinated. This is a State of North Carolina and Durham Public Health requirement.
  • Contact tracing will continue for those who test positive for COVID.

We hope everyone has a fantastic and restful winter break. Thank you for doing your part to help us start the spring semester as safely as possible. – Duke Student Affairs

Pre-Thanksgiving Break Information for All Students

The message is being sent to all Duke undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Dear students,

The semester is quickly drawing to a close and we know that many of you may be traveling over Thanksgiving and/or over winter break. We are writing today to share important updates including how to get a COVID booster on campus—or how to let us know if you get one off-campus—and how to complete a COVID-19 exit test before you travel.

Exit testing for those who require proof of testing to travel

We know that some of you may be traveling to states or countries that require proof of a negative COVID-19 test before you can travel, or may just prefer to get one for peace of mind over break. A few notes:

  • All students can get a PCR test for travel at the Bryan Center testing site. Please note that you must specify that the exit test is needed for travel. Visit https://returnto.duke.edu/covid-19-testing/#screening-sites for testing site hours. Results take at least 24 hours, so please plan ahead!
  • Note that regular surveillance testing will NOT fulfill this requirement. If you have any questions about exit testing, call Student Health as soon as possible to review your needs.

If you test positive before departure

If you test positive before departure

Students who test positive in an exit test will be contacted and instructed to isolate just the same as if they had done a surveillance test. Students who test positive between now and the date they plan to leave Durham will have three options:

  • Students who already reside on campus may remain in Duke-provided facilities until you are approved to leave.
  • A family member may pick you up and drive you home; you should NOT use any form of public transportation during this time.
  • You may drive yourself home; again, you should NOT use public transportation during this time.

If you test positive, we will work with you to develop a strategy that is right for you.

If you test positive over Thanksgiving Break

If you are away from Durham for the break and test positive, you should:

  • Notify your local health department. Also notify Student Health by submitting your test result to dshcheckin@duke.edu prior to your return to campus.
  • Isolate at home for 10 days before returning.

Duke will resume surveillance testing after Thanksgiving, so we encourage you to get tested prior to returning to campus so you can isolate at home or off-campus if necessary.

COVID-19 Boosters

Students interested in a booster shot can schedule an appointment with Student Health by calling an immunization nurse at 919.681.9355 option 1 (COVID vaccine boosters are not currently required for students). Learn more from on COVID vaccine boosters from Student Health.

If you receive your booster over break, please be sure to upload your information to Student Health in order to keep your record up-to-date.

Tips for staying safe during Thanksgiving Break

We hope that you stay healthy and well over the break. A few reminders:

Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth; do not share your mask with others.

Limit your circle of contacts, and pay attention to who your contacts interact with and who in your circle is particularly at risk of complications from COVID-19 (e.g. those 65 or older, or people with underlying health conditions).

Practice physical distancing.

Wash your hands regularly, and if that is not possible, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Rest and spend time doing things that give you life. It’s been another tough semester!

We hope you are able to use this time over Thanksgiving Break to reflect, and of course, to continue to keep yourselves, your family and friends, and all those you encounter as safe as possible.

Be safe, be well, and have a restorative break.

Go Duke,

John Blackshear, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Hunter Spotts, M.D.
Medical Director, Duke Student Health

Easing Outdoor Masking Guidance

Nov. 2, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

We are writing today to update our guidance for outdoor masking given the lower prevalence of COVID-19 cases on campus and in our community. Individuals on campus no longer need to wear masks in outdoor congregate settings, including athletic events.

Individuals are encouraged to carry a mask to wear in the event social distancing cannot be effectively maintained in outdoor settings. Also, please respect anyone who chooses to continue wearing masks as a means to prevent exposure to themselves or loved ones.

Masks are still required indoors in all Duke owned and leased buildings, including in most areas of residence halls except a student’s assigned room. Masks are recommended—but not required—in semi-public residential spaces (commons rooms, laundry rooms). Masks are also required on all buses and at bus stops.

We have seen a significant decline in weekly cases on campus since a high of 364 cases in late August. During the last three weeks, our total weekly cases have been in the teens. This success is directly related to our vaccination rate and your diligence to practice prevention in your daily activities.

As we approach the holiday season, please continue to follow public health guidance to limit the potential for a spike in cases during indoor gatherings of friends and family. We also encourage everyone to get a booster shotonce you meet the eligibility criteria. Appointments can be made on the Duke COVID Vaccine website. Thank you for your commitment and perseverance throughout this pandemic.

Sally Kornbluth
Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor

Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President for Administration

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

COVID-19 Booster Shots for Students

Dear Students,

Now that the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has approved all three COVID-19 vaccines for booster shots, we strongly encourage you take advantage of the opportunity to get one soon.

You can schedule an appointment with Student Health by calling an immunization nurse at 919.681.9355 option 1. Appointments are also available through the Employee Vaccination Clinics located at Blue Devil Tower and the three Duke Health hospitals. You can find details on the Duke COVID Vaccine website.

At this time, the eligible criteria for students at Duke include the following:

  • Those who have received their last dose of Moderna or Pfizer vaccines over 6 months ago.
  • Those who have received their initial dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago and are 18 years of age or older. 

The CDC also said that individuals can choose any of the three boosters now authorized regardless of their original shot. Duke medical experts suggest that anyone who received the J&J vaccine preferentially get a booster shot of either Pfizer or Moderna, which have been proven highly effective in preventing infection and severe illness.  A booster with the J&J vaccine remains an alternative for these individuals.

While the booster shot is not required for Duke students at this time, we encourage all eligible students to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to protect you and others from potential infection. 

Thank you for your efforts to keep the Duke community safe. Please continue wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently and maintaining social distance.  

John Vaughn, MD
Director, Student Health

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.

COVID Updates for Undergradudates

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

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Good afternoon,

We, like you, are pleased to see that the number of new COVID cases on campus has been declining in the past two weeks. This is no doubt due to the actions that each of us has taken as we continue to adjust to the constraints that Delta has added to our Fall 2021 semester. As we have learned, however, the situation can change quickly, so we need to make sure that we do not let our guard down completely. 

The university released updated guidance on Monday and we’re writing to provide more specific information for undergraduates. Please note that while some of the guidelines are changing, others are continuing.

Guidelines that have been modified:

Guidelines that are continuing:

  • Indoor masking is required, including in all areas of the residence halls (except your assigned room/suite/apartment). Along with the vaccine, masking is the most effective strategy to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
  • Indoor seating at Duke Dining facilities remains limited.Outdoor group dining will still be available across campus. Thank you for making use of the tents on East and West!
  • Student organization programs with 50 or more attendees need to be registered and approved through DukeGroups in consultation with UCAE. This continues a practice established last academic year. Suggestions for how to host a safer event include providing pre-packaged food, allowing for a virtual option, remaining masked, and thinking creatively about seating options that allow for different levels of comfort (spaced out blankets, small groups of 4-5 chairs, etc.). Events should be held outside when possible and, if an event is not approved before the event is to take place, event hosts should plan to hold it virtually.
  • Undergraduate students hosting informal social gatherings on- or off-campus must ensure attendees are fully masked and limit attendance to no more than 50 people. 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.  

Our data show that what we’re doing is working and we encourage you to continue making decisions that support the health and wellness of our community, especially those who cannot be vaccinated. Community and connection are vitally important and we’ll continue our efforts to support all students during this time. 

We know most undergraduates are getting into a solid routine at this point in the semester, with classes and commitments keeping you engaged. Please remember that connection is critical; we encourage all of you to find ways to connect safely with one another, with faculty and mentors, and to seek out campus activities and opportunities where you can explore and have fun. 

Well done, all, and let’s continue the good work.

Go Duke,

Gary Bennett, Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education
Mary Pat McMahon, Vice Provost of Student Affairs

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,
Provost

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

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