Category: For Visitors to Campus Page 1 of 2

Masking and Social Distancing Guidance

For the next several weeks, Duke University will maintain the requirement for social distancing and wearing of masks indoors while inside campus facilities and using Duke buses and shuttles, regardless of vaccination status.

We are assessing the latest guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and consulting with our infectious disease experts, the Office of Environment and Safety Office, and Employee Occupational Health and Wellness. While we may ease requirements in the coming month, masking and social distance continue to be the most effective way to limit the spread among unvaccinated individuals.

We are making good progress in vaccination with more than 65 percent of faculty and staff and 55 percent of students now fully vaccinated. Continued progress in vaccination will provide us greater confidence in easing restrictions for social distancing and masking inside certain facilities on campus in the next several weeks.

Faculty and staff who have not already done so can schedule an appointment for free vaccination. Those who were vaccinated outside of the Duke Employee Vaccination Clinic should submit a photo of their completed vaccination card through the Duke COVID Vaccine website.

Thank you for continued efforts to ensure the safety of our campus community.


Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President, Administration

Gatherings and Events on Campus – updated guidelines

This message is being sent to all University Faculty and Staff.

Dear Colleagues,

With the continued progress nationally and statewide in controlling the spread of the COVID-19, Duke will begin easing restrictions for gatherings of people and hosting of events.

Effective June 1, 2021, Duke schools, departments and units may host events, activities and performances on and off campus, including meetings of faculty, staff, students and invited guests, without prior approval as long as they observe current Centers for Disease Control and State of North Carolina guidelines for capacity. Food and drink will be permitted subject to state and local regulations. Updated guidelines can be found at

This guidance only applies to Duke-hosted activities. Outside organizations cannot hold events on the Duke campus without prior approval from the Office of Public Affairs and Government Relations.

Sponsors of events or gatherings on campus should strongly encourage all attendees to be vaccinated, and as previously announced, masks are required inside on-campus buildings. Access to all campus buildings will continue to be limited to those with active DukeCards. Daily symptom monitoring is still required by members of the Duke community to activate their DukeCard for building access.

Widespread vaccinations have proven to significantly reduce the positive cases of COVID-19 on campus and in the community.  Duke faculty, staff or students who have not yet been vaccinated should schedule an appointmentthrough the Duke Employee Vaccination Clinic.

Duke is continuing surveillance testing for all students residing on campus during the summer. Faculty and staff who are working on campus are encouraged to participate in the testing as well.

Together, we are making great strides to protect our community and return to some of the activities we have not been able to do during the worst of the pandemic. Thank you for your ongoing cooperation and resilience that has allowed us to reach this positive milestone.


Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

Updated Masking Requirements on Campus

Effective immediately, Duke University will not require students, employees or visitors to wear masks or face coverings while outdoors, with the exception of crowded areas and gatherings where social distancing is not possible. Masks or face coverings are still required inside Duke University owned or leased buildings, and while riding a Duke bus or shuttle, except under the following circumstances:

  • When alone in a confined room such as a private office or residence (Note: this does not include meeting rooms, break rooms, or shared environments such as cubicle work stations).
  • When alone in a vehicle.
  • When eating or drinking while following safety guidance such as social distancing.

This new protocol is consistent with Centers for Disease Control and State of North Carolina guidelines and covers all students, faculty, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.Vaccination and masking are the most effective means of protecting yourself and others from COVID-19 and will be key to getting us beyond this pandemic.  We strongly encourage all members of the Duke community who have not been vaccinated to do so  at no cost through the Duke Employee Vaccination Clinic or Duke Student Health. If you have been vaccinated at a location other than a Duke Employee Vaccination Clinic or Duke-operated site, please submit documentation of vaccination as follows:

  • Faculty and Staff: upload a picture of their completed vaccination card through the confidential Duke VAXTrax online form.
  • Students: email a photo of your vaccination card to Student Health at after your vaccine series is completed.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to keeping the Duke community safe.

Sally Kornbluth,
Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

Masking Protocol on Campus

Duke will be issuing updated protocols regarding masking on campus early next week based on new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Until then, the current requirement for all staff, faculty, students, and visitors to wear a mask while on Duke’s campus remains in effect.

Currently, masks are still required in outdoor campus settings where social distancing measures cannot be maintained and at all times in shared spaces indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Thank you for your ongoing commitment to keeping the Duke community safe.

Sally Kornbluth,
Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

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

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

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.

Events Guidance for Spring Semester

The following message was sent to senior administrators and deans on Dec. 30, 2020.

UPDATE: please note that as of March 1, 2021 there has been no change to these guidelines.

We know that limiting the size of gatherings, wearing masks, being outdoors, and maintaining social distancing are proven means of reducing risk and virus transmission.  Combined with our robust testing and tracing program, and the commitment of our students, faculty and staff, these measures have been successful so far in protecting the safety of the Duke community.

While the deployment of the vaccine provides much-needed hope for a return to normalcy, it will take some time for broad distribution of the vaccine and therefore it is unlikely to have a significant impact on our plans for the Spring.  Local, state and national public health conditions will be acute for the next several months.  Thus, Duke University will continue to observe the following restrictions through at least February 28, 2021:

  • No in-person public events will be permitted on the Duke campus. This includes performances, concerts, lectures, reunions, alumni and development programs, conferences, symposia, tours, board meetings and any other event to which individuals who are not Duke students, faculty or staff would be invited or expected to attend. 
  • In-person gatherings other than scheduled classes and approved student activities are limited to 10 persons, 6’ social distanced, masked, and neither food nor beverages consumed. 
  • No in-person events hosted, sponsored or paid for by Duke will be permitted to take place off-campus, both in Durham and elsewhere in or outside the U.S.
  • We will continue to monitor public health conditions and provide further guidance for the remainder of the spring semester, including commencement, as soon as we can reasonably do so in 2021.

This fall, many events were held virtually to much success and attracted large audiences, including town halls, conferences, and even a socially distanced performance of the Messiah. Please continue to submit your virtual events to the University Event Calendar by clicking on “SUBMIT A PUBLIC LINK” at

We also recognize that, even with these restrictions, you may still want to propose public events and activities. To that end, there is an appeal and review process that Mike Schoenfeld will continue to oversee in consultation with the appropriate university leaders.  For more information see:

Thank you in advance for conveying this information to colleagues, faculty, staff and event planners in your departments. We will continue to monitor conditions closely and look forward to returning to our regular schedule of broad public engagement as soon as it is safe to do so. 

Duke Gardens to Remain Closed for Fall Semester

In keeping with Duke University’s campus-wide health and safety measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Duke Gardens will remain closed through the end of 2020.

For more information, visit the Sarah P. Duke Gardens website.

Attendance Restrictions Announced for Fall Sports

Due to the impact of COVID-19, Duke University will begin its fall sport program seasons without spectators at home events.

“To be sure, our venues will not be the same without our passionate, energetic fan base,” said Vice President and Director of Athletics Kevin White. “Given the unique and challenging circumstances, this determination was reached with the health and safety of our fans, student-athletes, coaches and staff at the forefront. As this evolving process continues, it is imperative to be both adaptable and compliant in anticipation of hosting fans in the near future.”

Contests played on Duke’s campus will include essential game management personnel and broadcast media. Traditional parking lots used by fans on gameday will be closed.

Fans who have purchased season and single-game tickets for the upcoming football season or have seating and suite contracts in Blue Devil Tower will receive email correspondence regarding options.

Despite the attendance constraints for football games, Duke fans have an opportunity to support the team at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium with a “fan cutout” of an individual(s) or pet(s). Several different packages are available and include stadium location options, weekly prize drawings and the ability to have the cutout autographed by head coach David Cutcliffe. Images placed in the seats will help replicate the gameday atmosphere in the stadium as well as provide an enhanced visual presence for the television audience. Proceeds from sales will go directly to Duke Athletics to support our student-athletes during these unprecedented times. For more information, visit

Information regarding the virtual fan experience for football games at Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium will be available at a later date.

The Blue Devil football team opens the home portion of the 2020 schedule against Boston College on Saturday, September 19. Amended schedules for Duke’s men’s cross country, women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s soccer, women’s soccer and volleyball teams have yet to be released.

Duke Gardens Will Remain Closed

Sarah P. Duke Gardens will not reopen in June and will remain closed until further notice. Read the announcement on their website. 

Please see their resources page for information about free online classes and other ways to explore the natural world around us.

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