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COVID-19 Update at Duke

Dear Colleagues,

I am writing to advise you that several members of the Duke community have recently tested positive for the coronavirus.

We have now confirmed that three Duke graduate students who have been traveling overseas as part of a group have tested positive for the coronavirus. They are receiving treatment outside of the United States and will remain overseas until they have recovered.  Duke physicians have been in touch with the students and they are all in good condition.  Other students who were part of that group have returned to Durham and will remain in self-isolation off-campus for at least 14 days under medical supervision.  Any individuals who have experienced symptoms compatible with coronavirus (i.e. fever, cough) underwent testing and are awaiting the results. Durham Public Health and Duke Health are engaged in this effort.

We are optimistic for the full recovery of these individuals and remain grateful to health care providers around the world for their courage and commitment.  This is also a reminder to all of us to observe the guidelines on travel, exposure to large crowds and other restrictions designed to stop the spread of coronavirus — not only for your own well-being, but for the health of the vulnerable populations in our community. 

Please be sure to check https://coronavirus.duke.edu for updates on information and policies that impact Duke.With all best wishes,  

Kyle J. Cavanaugh
Vice President for Administration and Emergency Coordinator

Guidance on Graduate Lab Access – out of date

Note: this page is out of date — please see https://coronavirus.duke.edu/2020/03/updated-guidance-for-graduate-and-postdoc-lab-research/ for the most current information

The following is information for our graduate students who participate in lab-based research.  Please note that this guidance is based on our current assessment as of March 13, 2020, and is subject to change given the rapidly evolving situation.

At present, Duke labs remain open but with restrictions for access.  Ph.D. and master’s students, as well as postdoctoral researchers and other lab staff, are permitted on campus to perform laboratory-based research. Students doing non-laboratory-based research must work remotely unless aspects of your work involve your presence on campus.

While we are working to maintain our research activities, our first priority is your health and well-being. Toward that end, we will follow these guidelines:

  • Faculty mentors must be flexible with lab members, especially those who may be at higher risk or have special concerns.
  • We encourage the use of online communications tools so that students are able to work remotely for all or part of their time.
  • If students absolutely need to be in the lab, lab teams should discuss ways to promote good lab hygiene and enable social distancing through options such as taking shifts. Duke has provided specific guidance for “Laboratory Operations Changes.”
  • While current policy permits meetings with fewer than 50 Duke faculty, staff or students, labs should consider using Zoom for lab meetings if this is more comfortable for the team under the current circumstances.
  • Students and other lab members who have been traveling should follow Duke’s guidelines for returning to any campus lab. Labs can add additional requirements, even if the student was not in a level 2 or 3 country, and help arrange for students to work remotely during this period.
  • For students who would typically present a poster for their research, we are planning to do the poster sessions remotely. Faculty can review work, then provide feedback. Alternatively, groups might consider Zoom-based poster presentations, if scheduling allows.

We encourage open communication to ensure agreement about procedures for returning doctoral or master’s student researchers in each lab.  We have asked all faculty to work with students to accommodate their particular situations while helping each student continue their research path under the current circumstances.  If there are disagreements, students are encouraged to speak to the department DGS or DMS, whose role is to advocate for students.

If you have questions, please contact your DGS or DMS or any department/school leader. We appreciate your flexibility and patience as we all work together to ensure a healthy and productive remainder of the semester.

This information is posted on the Graduate School website and Research.Duke.edu

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