Category: Travel Updates Page 1 of 3

COVID Safety Protocols for the Spring Semester

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,

As we enter the holiday season, we want to share some important guidance related to the safety of our community.

First, in addition to COVID, there are a number of respiratory viruses with similar symptoms circulating in our area. If you have symptoms or a known exposure to any respiratory virus (including COVID), please be considerate of others and wear a mask indoors and when in close proximity to other people.

If you have symptoms, you should also get a COVID test rather than assume you have a cold or allergies. A negative at-home antigen test, especially during early onset of symptoms, does not rule out the possibility of COVID. If you have symptoms, you can get a PCR test at Student Health, Employee Occupational Health & Wellness, or another healthcare provider to confirm whether your symptoms are from COVID.

These steps will help greatly in our efforts to reduce the transmission of infectious viruses that contribute to missed classes for students and faculty, as well as staffing shortages for Duke’s campus and clinical operations.

International students and others who need proof of a negative COVID-19 test to travel to their home countries can get a PCR test at one of the on-campus test sites, which are open Monday through Thursday 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.

In addition, we have established the following guidelines for the spring semester:

  • All students should get a negative COVID test before arriving on campus, preferably within 72 hours of arrival. Test results are not required to be submitted to Duke, but participation is considered as part of the Duke Community Standard.
  • Any student who tests positive should contact Student Health and delay their arrival until cleared by Student Health.
  • Duke will continue to offer limited surveillance testing for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff until Friday, March 10, 2023. The following two test sites will be available from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday until that time:
    • Washington Duke Inn
    • Levine Science Research Center (LSRC)
  • While asymptomatic testing on campus will end March 10, 2023, testing will continue to be available for those who have symptoms as needed at Student Health or by calling the COVID Hotline at Employee Health (919-385-0429 option 1).
  • In addition, Duke will be securing at-home antigen tests that will be available through the Duke Stores’ Service Desk in the Bryan Center. One test kit per week is available at no charge to any student, faculty or staff member with a valid DukeCard. 
  • Masks will be required on Duke buses and vans for the beginning of the spring semester and will be reassessed later in the semester based on case rates in the community.
  • Due to influenza, RSV and the circulation of other respiratory viruses, masking indoors is strongly recommended for anyone with symptoms, regardless of test results for COVID. Masking also provides a measure of additional protection for individuals who wish to avoid infection by any of the circulating respiratory viruses, so please respect the right of others to mask.

We have had some clusters of COVID in recent weeks from people not masking after a known exposure or a false-negative at-home antigen test. Our hope is to limit such events so that we can embrace a richer and more engaging time together when we return after the holidays. Until then, be safe and enjoy the holidays with friends and family.

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

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

Guidance on Holiday Parties, Gatherings and Travel

The following memo was sent to Duke University leaders and managers on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022.

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

FROM:  Carol Epling, MD, MSPH, Executive Director, Employee Occupational Health & Wellness

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

RE:       Guidance on Holiday Parties, Gatherings and Travel

As we approach the holiday season, we are closely monitoring new COVID variants that are beginning to gain ground across the U.S., as well as increasing reports of influenza and other respiratory viruses such as RSV. This is a particularly concerning trend as many people plan to travel to other parts of the country and gather with friends and family during the holidays.

We are all ready to return to more normal activities, but we must remember the pandemic is still with us and poses a dangerous threat to many, especially those who are immunocompromised. The most important action we can all take is to get vaccinated for the flu and receive the updated bivalent COVID booster, which not only protects us from severe illness but also our friends, family, and colleagues. We strongly encourage everyone to get a free COVID booster and flu vaccine at one of our on-site clinics or at any other healthcare provider before traveling for the holidays.

While the University allows workplace holiday gatherings, we encourage people to follow safe practices to help reduce the potential spread of respiratory viruses currently circulating. These include practicing good hand hygiene and wearing a well-fitting mask when in close quarters with others unless actively eating or drinking. Outdoor events present a much lower risk for COVID transmission.   While the weather may not be as accommodating in colder months, heated outdoor spaces can be found. Most importantly, if you are sick or have any respiratory symptoms, do not attend gatherings with others.

During the last two years, we have seen staff shortages due to an increase in COVID cases directly related to travel during the holidays. For those traveling using mass transit (airplanes, buses, trains, etc.) during the holidays, we suggest wearing a well-fitting mask to reduce your risk of infection and the risk to others. We also suggest you consider recent exposure before gathering with others, especially those who may be at higher risk for severe illness or complications, and getting a test beforehand.

As we enter the holiday season, we are already in the midst of a surge of flu and RSV. We can take steps to reduce our individual and community risk by continuing to follow these guidelines. Thank you for your ongoing leadership, support, and efforts to keep everyone safe during this critical time.  

Fall Travel at Duke

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

July 2, 2021

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

Effective August 9, 2021, the Duke Travel Suspension due to COVID-19 will no longer apply to domestic travel. Faculty, staff, and students who are fully-vaccinated will once again be allowed to travel with Duke support to U.S. states, territories, and territorial waters. Also, domestic travelers will no longer need to enter their travel into the Duke Travel Registry.

While international travel will be more complex given the pandemic and resulting entry requirements/restrictions, travel to destinations that do not appear on Duke’s Restricted Regions List can once again proceed for individuals who are fully vaccinated with the usual budgetary and departmental/school approvals.

The revised RRL, to be published on August 9, will include locations that Duke restricts for safety and security reasons, as well as countries where the travel suspension due to COVID-19 will continue to be in place.  For the latter, the policies and procedures that faculty, staff and students have followed for the last year to request an exemption from their “Top-Level Manager” (and if applicable Duke’s GTAC CV19 Travel Sub-committee) for “essential travel” to these destinations will remain in effect. Additionally, all travelers – whether domestic or international and regardless of whether travel is to a COVID-19 suspended destination or not – must be fully vaccinated or have an approved medical or religious exemption on file with Duke.

For RRL destinations restricted due to safety and security reasons other than COVID-19, students can seek waivers of the restrictions through Duke’s long-standing petition and waiver/release processes specified in Duke’s Global Travel Policy. Faculty, staff and graduate students are not restricted from traveling to these areas.

We encourage you to visit and sign up to receive updates on Duke’s Travel Policy to learn more and to receive alerts as to when this information is available online.

While the news is good at Duke, the pandemic is not over yet. All travelers should continue to follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its equivalents at their international destinations to promote a safe environment for hosts as well as our students, faculty and staff not only in Durham but any location. Vaccination rates worldwide vary significantly from country to country, and the emergence of new and more transmittable variants of COVID-19 means we must continue to practice public health protocols.

Sally Kornbluth,
Provost and Jo Rae Wright University Professor

Kyle Cavanaugh,
Vice President, Administration

Update on Travel for Faculty and Staff

This message was sent by email to Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Directors, Department Heads and Managers on April 21, 2021.

While Duke has extended its travel suspension due to the pandemic until at least August 8, effective May 2, 2021, top-level managers can grant exceptions for domestic travel by employees for those who are on record with Employee and Occupational Health and Wellness (EOHW) as fully vaccinated, or have an accepted medical or religious exemption on file, and for whom the travel is necessary and reasonable, meeting the criteria listed within the policy addendum.

Please note the following:

  • All Duke supported travel by Undergraduates (whether domestic or international) is suspended until August 8, with rare exceptions granted by the Provost.

  • Graduate/Professional Student travel continues to be suspended with exceptions for essential travel approved by Top-Level Manager(s);

  • All Duke supported travel should be managed carefully given Duke/Duke Health budget reductions in effect until July 1, 2022; and

  • All Duke supported travel must be entered into the Duke TravelRegistry.

Definitions as to what constitutes domestic travel, who top-level managers are and how one’s vaccination records can be put on file with Duke’s EOHW are included within the Travel Policy and Addendum for Travelamidst COVID-19, online at

Update on Plans for Fall 2021

This message is being sent to all Duke undergraduate, graduate, and professional students, as well as the incoming Class of 2025. 

Friday, April 16, 2021

Dear Students,

As you know from President Price’s announcement last week, we intend to require all students—undergraduate, graduate and professional—to be vaccinated in order to attend classes and other campus activities this Fall. Underlying this plan are several factors which we will closely follow, including the anticipated FDA approval of vaccines, WHO recognition of vaccines related to international students, ongoing availability of vaccines, and continuing (and new) travel restrictions. We will expect all of our students to provide proof of vaccination or to obtain a medical or religious exemption. In addition to protecting the community through vaccination, we expect to continue masking and some level of surveillance testing. 

We know you have many questions about Fall planning. Please see the FAQ on the Keep Learning website, as well as the information below.

We anticipate returning to in-person instruction with normal classroom density—however, we will provide an exemption process for faculty who have medical reasons precluding their immediate return to in-person instruction. These plans are subject to change, of course, depending on the status of the pandemic. The mode of delivery for each course will be shown during course registration.

One unpredictable element to our planning comes from uncertainty around international student access to the U.S. We have assembled a set of FAQs for International Students to address these issues.


Sally Kornbluth, Provost

Jennifer Francis, Executive Vice Provost 

Vaccination of Remaining Faculty and Staff

This message was sent by email to all Duke faculty and staff.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

The State of North Carolina announced that it will expand eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination to include a subset of Group 4 (Adults at High Risk for Exposure and Increased Risk of Severe Illness, Homeless, and Incarcerated Individuals) beginning March 17. At this time, college students in congregate housing are projected to be eligible for vaccination beginning April 7.

As a result, Duke will be inviting all faculty and staff who have not already been contacted to register for the vaccine in the coming week. Those faculty and staff identified as eligible in Group 3 (frontline essential workers) will receive an email from Duke Employee Health by Friday, March 12 inviting them to schedule an appointment.  All others on the Duke payroll, including teaching assistants and research assistants, will receive an email early next week with an opportunity to schedule an appointment beginning March 17. Appointments will be added as supply becomes available, so individuals should continue to check for availability every few days.

Please note that Duke Health continues to receive a limited supply of vaccines and cannot accommodate the current demand from eligible individuals. We strongly encourage you to explore all options for vaccination, such as local public health departments, pharmacies and other providers that may have additional supply. If you received your COVID-19 vaccine outside of Duke Employee Health, please submit your documentation to Duke Employee Health.

As a reminder, the criteria for eligibility and the amount of vaccine available are both controlled by the State of North Carolina, not Duke University or Duke Health. The availability of the vaccine will continue to dictate how many and when eligible faculty and staff will be able to schedule appointments for vaccination with Duke Health. In addition, Duke Health is still prioritizing underserved populations and those at highest risk who have not yet received their vaccinations.

We are hopeful that vaccine supply will continue to increase in the coming weeks and months. Our hope is to make the vaccination available to as many individuals as possible, as quickly as possible. In the meanwhile, everyone should continue wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, and frequent hand washing to keep everyone safe as we see our way to the end of this pandemic. Thank you.


Kyle Cavanaugh
Vice President, Administration

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

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

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

Co-Leaders of the Duke COVID Vaccination Work Group

Additional Updates on UG COVID Cases and What to Expect This and Next Week

This message was sent by email to all Duke undergraduate students and to all undergraduate parents. A copy was also sent to all faculty from Provost Kornbluth and Vice President Cavanaugh. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Dear students,

We are writing to follow up on our message from Monday regarding the recent spike in COVID-19 transmission among undergraduate students. Unfortunately, that spike has continued and the university must take additional steps to curtail further transmission in the days ahead. This new guidance will apply to all undergraduate students, and to all student groups regardless of their affiliation with Duke.

Between Friday, March 5 and Tuesday, March 9 at 8 p.m. a total of 102 undergraduates have tested positive for COVID. Tuesday’s total of 32 positive undergraduate cases is the single highest daily count within our student population since the pandemic began. The majority of students in this group either have a known Greek affiliation and/or are first-year male students in the Class of 2024. Many of these cases are connected to the off-campus rush activities and parties hosted by individuals connected to Durham Interfraternity Council, which includes Greek organizations that have recently severed their affiliations with Duke. All of these are under investigation by the Office of Conduct and Community Standards and other authorities.

All Durham-based students must adhere to the follow guidance until further notice:

  • Do not host or attend in-person events of 10 people or more. It remains Duke’s policy that student gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors or outdoors, unless specially approved by the Student Events Policy Committee.
  • Do not host, attend, or participate in any in-person rush events, on or off-campus, whether or not the group is affiliated with Duke. As has been stated, all rush events must also be virtual unless otherwise approved.
  • To be clear, students who are seeking to affiliate with any selective organization may not participate in any in-person rush, pledge, or other selection activity for any affiliated or unaffiliated student group.

Failure to comply with these expectations will be considered a flagrant violation of The Duke Compact and Duke Community Standard and will be dealt with accordingly in the student conduct process. Individuals and groups that violate Duke and Durham public health guidance are also subject to disciplinary action. Students found responsible for hosting off-campus events or other flagrant violations of The Duke Compact may face serious sanctions up to and including suspension and/or expulsion. Disciplinary processes for students found responsible for hosting off-campus events have already resulted in multi-semester suspensions.

It is essential that all students who travel away from Durham this week strictly adhere to the following guidance when returning to campus. Please note that any student who has missed their surveillance test this week will be presumed to have traveled and must also adhere to these requirements.

Every undergraduate living on- or off-campus returning from travel this week must sequester in their room or apartments until they have cleared two rounds of surveillance testing, including the 48-hour notification period following the second test.

Sequester entails staying in one’s room or apartment at all times other than to get food and essential supplies, participate in surveillance testing, or get exercise. Students must not attend in-person classes or access non-essential in-person resources until their sequester period is completed. In the fall semester, we asked students to sequester for a shorter period of time; note that the sequester period here is PENDING THE OUTCOME OF TWO TESTS. The return-to-campus sequester requirement is firm and failure to adhere may result in loss of campus privileges or suspension from the university.

As always, undergraduate students will be called to surveillance testing twice in the upcoming week; many undergraduates will be called for more frequent testing in the near term. This increase is designed to help the modeling team track and respond to any patterns in transmission.

These steps are designed to assist us in curtailing COVID transmission among undergraduates. We are confident that you all can adhere to this new guidance so that we can flatten the curve on campus without employing additional steps to restrict campus life. Should they be necessary, however, next steps may include instituting a nightly curfew, further restrictions on campus navigation and access, ending in-person courses or cancelling planned activities.

To be clear, we recognize that the vast majority of undergraduates are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our entire community— students, faculty, and staff alike. Following our Monday message, we each heard from students who asked that we be more transparent about the individuals and groups whose actions are disproportionately impacting their classmates. We are doing so by reiterating specific restrictions on, and consequences for, conducting or participating in rush events and will not hesitate to take further action if needed.

In turn, we ask the entire student community to renew its commitment to our collective goal of looking out for each other and completing our semester on campus. In a year of loss, let’s come together to ensure that our seniors can complete their time at Duke without additional interruption and that the campus community can get through a hard-fought year without wholly preventable and dangerous setbacks. We know you can ALL meet this challenge together.

Thank you and go Duke,

John Blackshear
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Gary Bennett
Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education 

Mary Pat McMahon
Vice Provost of Student Affairs

Important Reminder to Students about Days Off Next Week

This message is being sent to all Duke undergraduate students.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Dear students,

As you all know, undergraduates have two days off next week. These days were inserted into the Spring Calendar after DSG advocacy in order to give you all a well-needed break. University leadership did so because we are confident in your partnership in following the Duke Compact. We are writing to share a few important reminders before those days:

  • Rules related to travel are still in effect. If you have any planned travel, you must let us know via the travel form. Per the Duke Compact and Duke’s COVID policies and expectations, all students are expected to stay in Durham for the entirety of the spring semester.
  • Surveillance testing will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. Unless you are pre-approved to travel via the form linked above, you will be called in for surveillance testing during those days.
  • We will be checking Duke IDs at all testing sites next week. Make sure to bring your physical DukeCard with you or have your Mobile DukeCard on your phone.

We need each of you to continue to do your part to keep our community safe. After seeing recent testing numbers and Duke’s tentative commencement plans, we are excited and hopeful—let’s not erase this good work so close to the end.

If students are found traveling outside of Durham without prior approval, please keep in mind that this is a violation of the Duke Compact and will be treated as such. Please do your part: submit the form if you are leaving the area, sequester once your return, and report to surveillance testing when called.

Hang in there, Dukies. Help us continue the semester as planned.

Go Duke,
Duke COVID Response Team

Update on Duke Travel Policy COVID-19 Addendum

Dear Travel Policy Update listserv,

Thank you, to all of you who have reached out to share your questions, thoughts and feedback regarding travel.  These are extraordinary times and keeping lines of communication open is more important than ever and has helped us to plan and anticipate needs better.  We want to share with you an update on where things stand today for Duke’s travel policy. 

The suspension put into place by the COVID-19 Addendum to Duke’s Global Travel Policy will be extended to August 8, 2021.

The specific criteria required for exceptions to this suspension to allow travel may be revised and possibly broadened if warranted by positive developments such as declining hospitalizations and wider distribution of vaccines.  Any such revisions will be further specified and updated officially within the Addendum in mid- to late-March and will be available online at  As with all travel at Duke, a significant change in the public health and safety environment can lead to a policy revision, with possible cancellations of travel and return of participants to their homes or Durham. The policies we outline here are subject to change at any time and such changes would be announced via this listserv and on the policy webpage noted above.

For Undergraduates: As stipulated in the January 28th email from Provost Sally Kornbluth et. al., Duke support for undergraduate travel during the Summer of ’21 will be suspended. This suspension holds true for both individual students and programs, domestic as well as international, and regardless of whether the travel is for research, internships, fellowships, academic study or another purpose.  Our fervent hope is that the outlook improves substantially so that support for some undergraduate travel can resume in the Fall of ’21.

For Graduate and Professional Students: The Duke Global Travel Policy and COVID-19 Addendum will remain in effect therefore, support for travel by Graduate/Professional students, both domestic and international, remains suspended.  However, an avenue for individual students to apply for an exception via their “Top-Level Manager” (e.g., School Dean, Institute Director, etc.) does exist.  At this point, most units, schools, and institutes have developed protocols under which a Graduate/Professional Student and/or their Faculty Advisor/Grant PI can apply for an exception which if granted would allow for travel to proceed.  (If you need help identifying who to turn to regarding travel within your unit, please reach out for assistance.)

As has been the case throughout the Academic Year, the decision-maker, faculty/PI or individual Graduate/Professional student can request a review of proposed travel by the COVID-19 Travel Sub-Committee of the Provost’s Global Travel Advisory Committee (GTAC) for input and advice on the safety and security of the planned travel and activity. The COVID-19 Sub-Committee’s review and recommendation is not mandatory for Graduate/Professional Student travel.  The ultimate decision for the exception lies with the leadership of the school/institute that will be supporting the travel.  If the supporting unit is different than the student’s home school/institute, approval must be secured from both the supporting unit’s leadership and the home school/institute’s leadership.  For example, if a Nicholas School of the Environment (NSOE) Grad student has research funded by a Duke Global Health Institute (DGHI) grant, the student needs approval from both the leaderships of NSOE and DGHI for the travel to proceed.

For Faculty, Staff and Others such as Post-Docs, Fellows, etc.: The Duke Global Travel Policy and COVID-19 Addendum will remain in effect, and exceptions to the travel suspension can be granted by “Top-Level Managers.” The decision-maker can request the COVID-19 Sub-Committee’s review and recommendation on the safety and security of the proposed travel and activity.

For all travelers: Students, Faculty, Staff and others must remit a copy of approval for travel to the COVID-19 Travel Sub-Committee and individuals must enter their personal and trip details into the Duke Travel Registry.

A note to decision-makers: As stated above, we are working with senior leadership to refine the decision-criteria to aide in granting exceptions for academic and research-related travel for Faculty, Staff, and Graduate/Professional Students.  We will have more specific guidance on this in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.  We also plan to host an online Travel Forum sometime in late-March or early-April once the policy changes have been formally announced.  Please watch for the invitation to this forum in the coming weeks.

Kindest regards,

Eric Mlyn, Chair, Global Travel Advisory Committee and
Christy Parrish, Travel Policy Administrator

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.

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