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COVID Safety Protocols for the Fall Semester

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As we approach the fall semester and provide community health guidance, we find ourselves in a considerably better position for managing COVID than we have since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The Duke community has effectively embraced the challenge of helping mitigate the impact of COVID on our campus the last two years. Now, we essentially have a fully vaccinated campus community, which means the risk for severe illness is considerably lower than it would be in the general population. We have also had compliance with masking requirements and no documented cases of transmission within our classrooms.

Among our campus community, there have been few cases of hospitalizations in the last year, and no student hospitalizations to our knowledge in 2022 year-to-date. The latest variants of virus currently circulating within the community are also less likely to cause severe illness than earlier strains of COVID, especially among those fully vaccinated.

Given these factors, we are able to more readily manage COVID cases on campus as we enter the fall semester. We also know there will be circumstances where special arrangements will need to be considered for individuals with higher risk factors for severe illness.

Below are the guidelines for the fall semester. As has been the case throughout the course of this pandemic, we will need to continue to be flexible and make adjustments as circumstances change.

Vaccination Requirements:

  • Students are required to complete a World Health Organization-approved COVID vaccine series prior to participation in on-campus activities. Duke also recommends students receive a booster dose when eligible per CDC guidelines. Note: Health Science students are required to receive the booster dose when eligible per CDC guidelines.
  • All new employees are required to have a WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccination and booster shot or a Duke-approved medical or religious exemption.

Masking:

  • Duke University’s approach to masking in classrooms will be tied to the CDC community level category. Currently, Durham County remains at the “high” level of community risk, so masking will continue to be required in classrooms. If and when the community risk has been reduced to medium or low for two consecutive weeks, masking will no longer be required in classrooms. Masking will continue to be encouraged in classrooms for anyone who is concerned or is at high-risk for severe disease.
  • Masks will continue to be required on Duke buses and vans and in all clinical settings, regardless of the CDC community level.
  • Individuals who are unvaccinated are still required to wear a mask in all indoor settings.
  • Anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should wear a mask, not report to work or attend classes, and get tested as soon as possible. Anyone experiencing respiratory symptoms, even after a negative COVID test, should remember there are many respiratory viruses circulating in our community. Please be considerate to others and wear a mask whenever you have any cold-like symptoms.
  • Masks may still be required in other locations based on specific circumstances, so student, employees and visitors should carry a mask and be prepared to wear it, if needed. Masking is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and others, especially in indoor settings. Please continue to respect an individual’s decision to wear a mask even if it is not required.

Testing:

  • Duke will require all students to get a negative PCR test before arriving on campus, preferably within 72 hours of arrival. Tests are not required to be submitted to Duke, but participation is considered as part of the Duke Community Standard.
  • Anyone who tests positive should contact Student Health and delay their arrival until cleared by Student Health.
  • Duke will continue to offer limited surveillance testing at four locations during the fall semester. Testing is optional for all students, faculty and staff. For more information about surveillance testing, visit the Coronavirus Response website.

Isolation Management:

  • Students, faculty and staff who test positive will be required to wear a well-fitted mask and isolate for a minimum of five days before returning to work or class and will need to continue to wear a mask for another five days. Health sciences students will be required to observe the longer isolation requirement for those working in the healthcare environment.
  • Residential students who test positive will be allowed to isolate in place within their residential hall room or apartment while wearing a well-fitted mask until released by Student Health. Residential students can arrange for food delivery through Merchants on Point. Roommates who have been exposed will need to test and also wear a mask to reduce further exposure or infection. Duke has secured space to help relocate exposed medically high-risk roommates, if needed.

Our community has been exceptionally resilient in navigating the worst of the pandemic the last two years. And while we must be prepared to renew our efforts again if circumstances change, we look forward to moving back into more normal routines this academic year. Thank you.

Carol Epling, MD, MSPH
Assistant Professor in Family Medicine and Community Health,
Executive Director, Employee Occupational Health and Wellness

John Vaughn, MD
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs,
Director of Student Health Services

Gail Shulby, RN, MA,CPP
Chief of Staff to the Vice Dean for Strategic Development,
Duke University School of Medicine

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

Co-Leaders of the COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Work Group

Masking Requirement for Summer Session

TO:Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers
FROM:Sally A. Kornbluth, Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor

Paul Grantham, Assistant Vice President, Deputy Emergency Coordinator
RE:Masking Requirement for Summer Session

Today marks the beginning of Duke’s Summer Session, and because we are seeing an increase in COVID cases on campus and in our community, we will continue to require masks for in-person classes, on Duke buses and vans, and in all clinical settings.

The current increase in COVID cases is the result of the BA.2 subvariant that has now become the dominant strain in our community. While severe illness is less likely with this strain, we are seeing a slow but steady increase in hospitalizations in the state and in our community. Thankfully, no Duke faculty, staff or students are currently hospitalized.

Indoor gatherings, especially when eating together, continue to pose an increased risk for transmission. Masking remains one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and others, especially in indoor settings. Please continue to respect an individual’s decision to wear a mask even if it is not required.

Vaccination Clinics:

Duke has added additional options for employee vaccination clinics, and we encourage everyone to get a booster shot or second booster once eligible. Breakthrough infections are less likely, and the possibility of developing severe illness requiring hospitalization is significantly lower if an individual is fully vaccinated and boosted. Details regarding appointments and walk-in clinics are available on the COVID Vaccine website. Please consult your health care provider if you have questions about the vaccination.

COVID Testing:

Duke continues to offer limited surveillance testing Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the summer. Testing is currently being offered at the Washington Duke Inn on Monday – Wednesday and at the Levine Science Research Center (LSRC) on Thursday. No appointment is needed.

Anyone experiencing COVID-like symptoms should contact Employee Occupational Health and Wellness COVID Hotline (919-385-0429 option 1) or Student Health (919-681-9355, option 2) to be tested and receive support and guidance, as appropriate.

Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to helping lead us through what we hope are the end stages of this pandemic.

Health Guidance for Upcoming Events

TO:       Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers

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

 Paul Grantham, Assistant Vice President, Communications, Deputy Emergency Coordinator

RE:       Health Guidance for Upcoming Events

As we approach the end of the academic year and commencement, we want to provide some guidance on gatherings and eating in congregate settings to help mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19 as we close out the semester.

During the last couple of weeks, we have seen an uptick in cases on campus. This uptick coincides with recent travel over spring break, gatherings afterward, and the emergence of the BA.2 subvariant in our community. Thankfully, we have not seen a corresponding increase in severe cases or hospitalizations. By taking common sense precautions, departments and units can safely gather to celebrate the end of the academic year.

These precautions include:

  • All attendees (employees, students and their guests) should be vaccinated.
  • Outdoor events and gatherings present a much lower risk for COVID transmission, especially if serving food.
  • No individuals should be required or expected to attend a reception, party or gathering. We should recognize that some of our colleagues have family or health concerns and will choose not to participate.
  • Masking is still required on Duke buses and vans, in classrooms and clinical settings.
  • Masking remains one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and others, especially in indoor settings. We should respect an individual’s decision to wear a mask even if it is not required. 

The end of the academic year is a time of celebration, and we hope to do so in a responsible way to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Thank you for your continued diligence as we navigate this latest uptick in cases at the end of the semester.

COVID Safety Protocols for Summer Sessions

Dear Faculty, Staff and Students

While we begin the final month of the spring semester, we are also preparing for a busy summer on campus. We continue to see promising signs with fewer cases of severe illness related to COVID-19 nationally, across North Carolina, and here in our Duke Community. However, we want to do our part to continue that trend by taking appropriate precautions during the summer for students, faculty, staff and participants in camps.

As part of this effort, we are making some changes to our COVID protocols for summer sessions (effective May 9, 2022):

Students in Summer Session

  • All incoming summer students will be required to be fully vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exemption. Summer students who have not already done so, should submit documentation through Student Health Services. (Students can email immunizations@duke.edu to request a medical or religious exemption form.)
  • All incoming students, regardless of vaccination status, must have a negative COVID test (PCR) 72 hours prior to arrival to campus. Students will be required to show documentation during the in-take process. (Note: Students who have tested positive in the last 90 days and have completed their required isolation period should bring a dated copy of the positive test result to show during the in-take process. Those who have not completed their required isolation period will need to wait until doing so before coming to campus.)
  • Any students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested at Student Health or other provider.
  • Students testing positive must be isolated for at least 5 days (if on-campus, will isolate in a single room in their residence hall).

Surveillance Testing for Students, Faculty and Staff

  • Required surveillance testing of students ended on March 17 due to limited public health benefit given high vaccination rates among students. The limited surveillance testing available on campus will end on May 1 (after final exams).
  • Required testing and daily symptom monitoring for unvaccinated faculty, staff and students will also end on May 1. Unvaccinated individuals remain at higher risk for severe illness related to COVID and should consider getting vaccinated to protect themselves and others at risk for severe illness.
  • Symptomatic testing for students, faculty and staff will continue to be available through Student Health, Employee Occupational Health and Wellness, or an outside provider.

Residential Summer Camps and Programs

  • All residential camp and program participants are required to be vaccinated or have a medical or religious exemption.
  • All residential camp and program participants must have a negative COVID test (PCR) 72 hours prior to arrival to campus. Participants will be required to show documentation during the in-take process. (Note: Participants who have tested positive in the last 90 days and have completed their required isolation period should bring a dated copy of the positive test result to show during the in-take process. Those who have not completed their required isolation period will need to wait until doing so before coming to campus.)
  • Each program must have a designated COVID Coordinator who will be responsible for verifying vaccination status and a negative test within 72 hours of arrival for campers and program staff. No medical documentation will be collected other than a form confirming vaccination status during the in-take process.
  • Student Health will do symptomatic testing of participants for camps and programs that have a contract for the service; otherwise, participants should be tested at an outside facility (e.g. urgent care, pharmacy). Any participant who tests positive will be removed from participation. Residential youth camp participants will be isolated in a single residence hall until a parent or designated adult caregiver can pick up the individual.

Day Camps and Programs

  • Participants in day camps and programs are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated before arriving. Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should not report to camp until after receiving a negative test.
  • Student Health will do symptomatic testing of participants for camps and programs that have a contract for the service; otherwise, participants should be tested at an outside facility (e.g. urgent care, pharmacy).
  • Any day camp or program participant who tests positive while on campus will be removed from participation, and youth participants must have a parent or designated adult caregiver pick up the individual.

We are so proud of the efforts each of you have made in helping navigate the worst of the pandemic. While we must be prepared to ramp up our efforts again if a new variant or outbreak emerges, we hope to continue easing back into more normal routines this summer. Thank you.

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration, Duke University

Russell Thompson,
Interim Vice President, Operations, Duke University

Carol Epling, MD, MSPH
Assistant Professor in Family Medicine and Community Health

Gail Shulby, RN, MA, CPP
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 COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Work Group

Indoor Mask Requirement Lifted in Most Duke University Facilities

March 4, 2022

Students, Faculty and Staff,

The City and County of Durham will end the indoor masking mandate on Monday, March 7, as will Orange County. Wake County ended its indoor masking mandate on February 25. As a result, and after reviewing CDC guidance and consulting with our infectious disease experts, Duke University will also revise its indoor masking requirements.

As of Monday, March 7, fully vaccinated individuals will no longer be required to wear masks inside most campus and leased facilities. However, masks will continue to be required for all individuals in the following locations on the Duke University campus unless otherwise indicated:

  • In-person classes
  • Duke buses and vans
  • Clinical and patient care areas*

*Note: Easing of mask requirements does not apply to Duke University Health System hospitals, clinics, procedural centers and PDC clinics. Further communication regarding changes in mask requirements will come directly from DUHS and PDC leadership and will be in accordance with CDC health care recommendations.

Masks may still be required in other locations (such as the Lemur Center) based on specific circumstances, so we encourage students, employees and visitors to carry a mask and be prepared to wear it if needed. Individuals who are unvaccinated are still required to wear a mask in all indoor settings. Anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should wear a mask, not report to work or attend classes, and get tested as soon as possible.
Over the next several weeks, we will continue to evaluate campus and local conditions to determine if further changes need to be made in our masking policies.

This transition recognizes that COVID-19 will be with us in some form, but the spread and severity can now be managed through vaccinations and medical treatment. As a result of our high vaccination rates, frequent testing and care and concern for each other, we have not seen any cases of serious illness among students, and very few among employees since the emergence of the Omicron variant.

After two years of navigating the pandemic, we recognize this change may feel uncomfortable for some, and we ask you to be respectful of those who prefer to continue wearing masks, particularly for those who have underlying high-risk medical conditions or live with those who do. It took time for us to adjust to life in a pandemic, and it will take time as we adjust to living with COVID as the pandemic eases. But this is another positive step toward that future.

We are deeply grateful for your engagement and compliance with masking and other safety measures to help protect each other throughout the pandemic. We’re sure this change is welcome news for many and expect we’ll see a lot more smiles around campus in the days ahead.

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

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

This message was sent to all University students, faculty and staff.

Guidance on Holiday Parties, Receptions and Gatherings

TO:Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads, and Managers
FROM:Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President, Administration
RE:Guidance on Holiday Parties, Receptions and Gatherings

With the approaching holiday season, we want to provide some general guidance on parties, receptions and gatherings. By taking common sense precautions, departments and units can safely celebrate the holidays, and our fellow faculty, staff and students. These precautions include:

  • All attendees (employees, students and their guests) should be vaccinated.
  • No individuals should be required or expected to attend a holiday party. We should recognize that some of our colleagues have family or health concerns and will choose not to participate. Likewise, we should also respect an individual’s decision to wear a mask even if it is not required by policy or local ordinance.
  • Outdoor events present a much lower risk for COVID transmission. There are a number of tents located around the campus and at area restaurants and event venues. While the weather may not be as accommodating in December as it was earlier in the fall, heated outdoor spaces can be found.
  • Holiday events that are held indoors on campus, in a restaurant or other public space must observe current university and municipal policies that are in place at the time of the event. As of November 10, both Duke and Durham County require masks for all indoor events unless individuals are actively eating or drinking.
  • Events at private residences are not covered by university and municipal polices, but we strongly encourage hosts to be prudent in terms of density and recommend that attendees wear masks unless actively eating or drinking.

The Duke community has gone to extraordinary lengths over the past two years to protect public health, which has made it possible for us to continue our education, research and service missions. While this is a time for much-needed celebration, it is also a time to remain vigilant, and to continue to look out for each other we enter what we hope will be the final phase of a global pandemic.

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.

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.

Updated Guidelines for Eating on Campus

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

With the increasing prevalence of the COVID-19 Delta variant and the resulting spike in positive tests among Duke students and employees in recent weeks, we are making changes to our public health measures to reduce the risk of potential outbreaks. In addition to required vaccination and masking indoors, we are now updating our guidance for eating meals because communal dining has continued to be one of the primary modes of transmission.

All members of the Duke community should adhere to the following while eating together with others:

  • If you are dining with others do so outdoors if possible. You are less likely to get or spread COVID-19 while outside. Additional tents with tables have been set up on campus to provide more access to shaded areas for outdoor dining.
  • Food should not be served or provided at indoor meetings, events, conferences and other gatherings, unless an outside eating option is made available.
  • When dining indoors, remain masked at all times except when actively eating and drinking. This includes waiting in line and walking to and from an eating location.
  • Be aware of surroundings in the environment, especially indoors, when deciding where to sit while you eat. Seating at indoor tables should be limited to no more than four individuals if possible to reduce overall density.
  • Minimize periods of time where multiple people are eating within the same communal space.
  • Remember to practice good hygiene before eating, including washing or sanitizing your hands thoroughly.

This guidance is in effect until further notice.  We are monitoring campus, local and national conditions and will provide updates as warranted.

The greatest protection against severe health risks related to COVID-19 is vaccination. Anyone who has not yet been vaccinated should do so at your earliest opportunity to help protect yourself and your loved ones.  As a reminder, vaccination is required for all students, faculty and staff. It is safe, free, easily accessible to every member of the Duke community and effective. You can find more information about options to get vaccinated and answers to frequently asked questions on the Duke COVID Vaccine website.

Thank you for doing your part to protect yourself and our community, and we look forward to a safe and productive fall semester.

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

Matthew Stiegel
Ph.D., Director, Occupational and Environmental Safety Office
This message is being sent to all Duke University students, faculty and staff.

Masks Required Indoors Again Due to Delta Surge

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Given the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in North Carolina related to a combination of the Delta variant and the number of people who remain unvaccinated, all individuals will be required to wear face masks in all Duke-owned and leased buildings effective Friday, July 30 until further notice.This requirement applies to all students, faculty, staff and visitors regardless of vaccination status. Masks will not be required in on-campus residence halls where there is a significantly lower risk of exposure for high-risk individuals.

In the last month, the Delta variant – which is  markedly more transmissible than earlier strains of the virus – has become increasingly prevalent nationally, across North Carolina, and in our local community. During that time, we have seen a steady rise in the number of cases on campus among unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals. However, the greatest threat for severe disease is to those in our community who are not yet vaccinated. On Monday, about 1,000 people in the state were hospitalized due to COVID, more than twice the number just two weeks ago.

While we know this is a disappointing turn, we make this move now based on the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Duke’s own infectious disease experts in hopes of containing potential outbreaks that may limit our ability to continue other activities during the fall semester.

The key to ending this pandemic is getting everyone vaccinated. We implore anyone who has not yet been vaccinated to do so at your earliest opportunity to help protect yourself and your loved ones. Too many have suffered and continue to suffer the effects of this disease. Duke stands ready and available to help answer questions or concerns and to vaccinate every member of our community.

We are making plans and preparations to welcome all students back for the fall semester, and we are eager to see a more active and dynamic campus this year. But the pandemic is still with us, and we must take appropriate steps to promote the safety and well-being of our community in the midst of this resurgence. Thank you for your continued support, patience and resilience.

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.

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