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Reminders about COVID Protocols for fall semester

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

We are looking forward to the beginning of the new academic year and vibrant activity on campus as many of our students arrive on campus later this week. As more people return to campus, we want to take this opportunity to remind you of our current COVID protocols to promote the safety of our community.

The latest COVID variants are far more transmissible than earlier variants, which has led to an increase in cases in recent weeks. By taking the appropriate precautions, we can help prevent the potential for a surge at the beginning of the semester that could hinder the ability for many to fully participate in campus life. 

Here are some quick reminders:  

  • Get tested before returning: Students are required 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 part of the Duke Community Standard. Anyone who tests positive should contact Student Health and delay their arrival until cleared by Student Health.
  • Be ready to mask upMasking is currently required in classrooms, on Duke buses and vans, and in all clinical settings. Masks will no longer be required in classrooms once the CDC community risk for Durham drops below “high” for two consecutive weeks. Masking is also recommended for other indoor gatherings while the community risk remains at “high” as defined by the CDC.
  • If in doubt, get tested: Duke will continue to offer asymptomatic testing for anyone who believes they may have been exposed to someone with COVID.
  • If you have any symptoms: Do not report to class or work, and contact Student Health or Employee Occupational Health & Wellness for symptomatic testing.
  • If you test positiveReport your results, wear a well-fitted mask, and isolate for a minimum of five days before returning to work or class. Wear a mask for another five days after isolation. Health sciences students will be required to isolate for seven days due to working in the healthcare environment.
  • If you live on campus: Residential students who test positive will isolate in place within their room. Roommates who have been exposed will need to test and also wear a mask. If you test negative and are medically high-risk for severe illness, you may request temporary alternative housing during your roommate’s isolation period.

You can find more information about all the COVID protocols for the fall semester on the Duke Coronavirus Response website.

Thank you and here’s to a great semester.

Sally A. Kornbluth
Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor

Daniel Ennis,
Executive Vice President

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.

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

Campus COVID-19 Testing Before and After Spring Break

Feb. 23, 2022

Students, Faculty and Staff,

From the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we have relied on Duke’s faculty experts in infectious disease and public health to help with the design and implementation of our protocols and procedures. Based upon their recommendations and the recent positive trends in our testing results, Duke will make the following changes to our COVID-19 testing protocols in the coming weeks.

Spring Break Travel/Exit Testing:

Students and others who need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to travel can get a PCR test next week at the Bryan Center. Tests will be available from Monday, Feb. 28 through Friday, March 4 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Please inform the staff at the test site that you need an “exit test” rather than a surveillance test. A link to the test results will be sent by email or text within 24 hours.

Surveillance Testing:

Week of March 7: Limited surveillance testing will be available during the week of March 7 for those who remain on campus or are required to test weekly. Visit the Duke United website for locations and hours of operation.

Week of March 14: Following Spring Break, Duke will resume a normal surveillance testing schedule for one week for all eligible students, as well as faculty and staff. Visit the Duke United website for locations and hours of operation.

Week of March 21: Required surveillance testing for asymptomatic vaccinated students will end. Surveillance testing will continue at a limited number of sites across campus for unvaccinated students, staff and faculty who are required to test each week, as well as those who wish to do so voluntarily.

Duke launched an innovative approach for surveillance testing in August 2020 as a way to quickly identify and limit COVID-19 transmission on campus. Since then, more than 1.2 million COVID-19 tests have been administered and processed by the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. This extraordinary effort allowed Duke to quickly return to a residential experience and in-person instruction, and protected the health and safety of our community.

While the program has served us well, it is now time to adapt to the changing landscape, just as we did with prior modifications to isolation and contract tracing. This change is being made after consultation with Duke’s infectious disease experts and is based on several factors, including our high vaccination rate and the decline in positive cases in recent weeks. 

Symptomatic Testing:

Testing will remain available through either Student Health or Employee Occupational Health & Wellness for those experiencing COVID symptoms. For more information, visit the Duke United website.

We are deeply grateful for the efforts of so many during the last two years to help us manage the constant and evolving challenges of this pandemic. We have learned much and leaned on each other often. The resilience, ingenuity, and commitment each member of this community has displayed reminds us of what makes Duke so special. We are not out of the pandemic yet, but we are one step closer to reclaiming the promise of what a post-pandemic life can be.

Until then, please continue to use appropriate caution when gathering with others, and remember that face masks are still required indoors in Durham and within all Duke owned and leased facilities. Thank you.

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

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

Updated Guidance for the Start of the Spring Semester

Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

During the last month, we have seen a surge in COVID-19 cases as a result of the Omicron variant that has set new records on campus, in North Carolina and across the country. In order to begin and continue normal operations during the Spring semester, we once again need your help to protect the Duke community.

Isolation Guidelines:

Based on new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Duke is updating its isolation protocols for those who test positive for COVID-19.

  • Vaccinated individuals who are asymptomatic (i.e. no symptoms) can end isolation five days after testing positive once cleared by Employee Health or Student Health and must then wear a well-fitting mask for the next five days when around others.
  • Symptomatic and all unvaccinated individuals must continue to isolate for 10 days to protect others who could become infected. Exceptions may be made for essential healthcare staff and other personnel needed to address critical needs, but those individuals will be required to follow additional masking protocols prescribed by Employee Health.

According to the CDC, this change in protocol is supported by data demonstrating that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.

These changes in the Duke policy will help us manage an expected spike in individuals testing positive due to Omicron and holiday travel. We’ve already seen a significant increase in positive tests among staff and students who have been on campus during the winter break. If these rates continue when the majority of students return to campus next week, we may face staffing shortages in critical operating areas and will likely exceed available dedicated isolation space for residential students, requiring them to isolation within their residence hall rooms instead.

What You Can Do Now

Please continue to practice safety protocols such as masking while indoors, avoiding large unmasked gatherings, and washing your hands frequently. In addition, please take the following steps:

  • If you have not already, please get your booster shot before returning to campus. This is the best protection against the Omicron variant and will be required for all students and employees.
  • Students should get tested 48 hours before returning to campus. If you test positive, please isolate at home until you have met the isolation criteria of your local health authority before returning to campus. (Note: Any student who cannot test before returning should sequester until after completing two rounds of surveillance testing on campus.)
  • After returning to campus, students should take an entry (surveillance) test administered by Duke as directed and then sequester in their on- or off-campus residence until they receive notification via email that their sequester can end.
  • Unvaccinated faculty and staff must resume surveillance testing and daily symptom monitoring the week of January 3.
  • If you develop any symptoms, do not come to campus.  Call your health care provider to arrange for a test.

As we close out what has been an extraordinary year, we want to acknowledge the many efforts and sacrifices of our community to weather this historic and ongoing pandemic. We remain Duke United.

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

Mary Pat McMahon,
Vice Provost and Vice President, Student Affairs

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

John Vaughn, MD,
Director of Student Health

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

COVID Protocols Updated for 2021 Fall Semester

June 29, 2021

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Together we have made extraordinary progress in combating COVID-19 on campus. More than 81 percent of our faculty and staff and nearly 10,000 of our students are fully vaccinated, and that number increases every week. We ended the Spring semester with a very low number of positive cases and had a joyous in-person celebration for our graduates. In addition, since May 3, there have been 35,000 surveillance tests completed with only 7 positive results.

In preparation for the Fall semester, we continue to work closely with Duke’s infectious diseases experts and follow the guidance of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others, to promote a safe environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors. While the national news is good, the pandemic is not over yet. Vaccination rates in our region continue to lag and the emergence of new and more transmittable variants of COVID-19 mean we must continue to practice some of our public health protocols as we begin the Fall semester.These protocols include:

  • Vaccinations: All Duke undergraduate, graduate and professional students must present proof of vaccination in order to attend classes and other campus activities this Fall. All faculty and staff are expected to present proof of vaccination by September 1. Students, faculty and staff may apply for a medical or religious exemption. Individuals granted medical or religious exemptions will be subject to daily symptom monitoring, regular testing, masking and other protocols applicable to those who have not been vaccinated.
  • Testing: All students will be tested upon arrival at Duke and must then participate in weekly surveillance testing regardless of their vaccination status. All students who have obtained an exemption from vaccination will be required to participate in surveillance testing twice a week. Faculty and staff who have not been vaccinated will be required to participate in surveillance testing once per week. The testing schedule for each group is based on the number of interactions they are likely to have that could lead to the transmission of COVID-19. Students tend to live in congregate settings and will likely have substantially more interactions than faculty and staff.
  • Symptom Monitoring: Fully vaccinated faculty, staff, and students will not be required to complete daily symptom monitoring. Anyone who has not been vaccinated, regardless of the circumstances, will be required to complete daily symptom monitoring.
  • Masking: Fully vaccinated faculty, staff and students will not be required to wear a mask in most indoor areas effective July 1. Because masks are still required in certain settings – including health care facilities, buses and shuttles on campus, and childcare centers – everyone should have a mask ready and available if needed. Also, please respect anyone who chooses to continue wearing masks as a means to prevent exposure to themselves or loved ones. Faculty, staff, and students who have not been vaccinated will be required to wear a mask indoors at all times. Masks will be provided to all students as part of the initial testing program.
  • Social Distancing: Social distancing is no longer required on campus, though distancing is still recommended for those who are not vaccinated.
  • Flu Vaccination: All members of the Duke community will be expected to participate in the annual flu vaccine program.

We will continue to assess our COVID protocols and test results as the semester progresses to determine whether it is safe to further ease restrictions.

With your participation and support, Duke has led the way back from this pandemic. Your perseverance, creativity and sheer will to overcome the many challenges that confronted us reflects the best of Duke and will define our future.

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.

Testing Update: April 26 – May 2, 2021

Duke University’s comprehensive COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program administered 17,128 tests to 9,363 students and 1,733 tests to 985 faculty/staff for the period April 26-May 2, 2021, with a total of four positive results. The total positivity rate was 0.02 percent.

For the second consecutive week the number of positive cases and positivity rate are at the lowest level of the academic year. This is also the final week of testing for the Spring semester.

Testing will continue during the summer and will be posted to Duke’s coronavirus website every Monday afternoon starting May 10.

The full announcement of testing results is posted to Duke Today.

Testing data is also available on our Testing Tracker.

Testing Update: April 19 – 25, 2021

Duke University’s comprehensive COVID-19 testing and contact tracing program administered 18,387 tests to 9,925 students and 2,124 tests to 1,127 faculty/staff for the period April 19-25, 2021, with a total of four positive results. The total positivity rate was 0.02%.

This is the lowest number of positive cases reported since testing started in August 2020.

The full announcement of testing results is posted to Duke Today.

Testing data is also available on our Testing Tracker.

Summer Surveillance Test Sites

Surveillance testing will be conducted during Summer Sessions 2021. The schedule and list of test sites has been posted to the Duke United website.

That link is here: https://returnto.duke.edu/public-health-measures/covid-19-testing/#summer-sites

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