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The message below is being sent to all Duke undergraduate students.

Friday, December 18, 2020
Dear students,

We hope you are having a safe and restorative Winter Break so far, wherever you are this year. Over the break, our teams in Student Affairs and in Undergraduate Education and others at Duke are hard at work preparing for the spring semester. We are excited to again support your Duke experience whether you plan to be here in Durham or tp participate remotely.

For those of you who are away now and planning to return to campus or the area: there are a number of things you will need to do both before and upon your arrival at Duke, whether you are living on campus or off campus.

If you are planning to return to campus or the Durham area this spring, please read in full the important information below on pre-arrival testing, quarantining before returning to campus, entry testing, and other health guidance.

As you have heard us say many times before, Duke is closely monitoring public health conditions as well as state and local regulations so all of these plans are subject to change on short notice. As you prepare for the spring semester, it is important to plan ahead as much as possible to be prepared should the situation shift.

Spring semester will certainly look different than previous years. But, as President Price shared in his message, the extraordinary dedication of our students, staff and faculty helped all of us at Duke keep each other safer this fall. Please join us in renewing our shared commitment to protecting the health and wellbeing of the entire Duke community. We’re still in this together, and we look forward to seeing you on campus soon.

Thank you for your attention to this information, and best wishes for a healthy and restorative holiday and winter break.
Go Duke, 
Gary Bennett
Vice Provost of Undergraduate Education 
Mary Pat McMahon
Vice Provost of Student Affairs


Following public health guidance, we are asking that all students travelling to the Durham area in January observe 10 days of quarantine prior to their travels. During quarantine, you should limit your contact to immediate household members, take care to observe social distancing, wear face coverings if you must be outside the home, and wash your hands frequently. Quarantining is a proven strategy to minimize the likelihood of a widespread outbreak when students arrive to start the spring semester.

Pre-Arrival Testing

Students who are returning to Durham from other locations are strongly encouraged to take a COVID test within five days of your arrival to Durham; check local and state public health resources to find out what might be available in your area. This means if you will arrive in Durham on January 16, you should get tested between January 11-15 and wait to travel to campus until you receive your result. Though voluntary, this precaution is one more way to help protect the Duke and Durham communities. Please note that pre-arrival testing is encouraged in addition to entry testing (also referred to as gateway testing) once you arrive in Durham.

Please report any positive results to Student Health through Duke MyChart and observe isolation protocols BEFORE you return to Durham. If you are in quarantine due to exposure to others with COVID-19, please inform Student Health. You should NOT return to campus or Durham until your quarantine or isolation period has ended and you are symptom-free. If you are in isolation and cannot return to campus at the designated time, please email keeplearning@duke.edu, contact Student Health and your academic dean.

Proof of Previous Diagnosis

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 3 months (October, November, or December 2020), you must still sign up for an entry testing slot, although you do not need to be tested.  You should bring a hard copy of your test report with you to Penn Pavilion or submit your report through Duke MyChart. You may receive additional instructions from Student Health about your arrival procedure and screening testing if you have previously tested positive for COVID-19. 


Entry Testing

All students who will be living on campus or who plan to be on campus for any reason and any length of time this spring are required to participate in entry testing upon their arrival in Durham. Please note that your DukeCard will not be activated until you complete entry testing.

Entry testing for undergraduate students will take place in Penn Pavilion from Thursday, January 14, to Wednesday, January 20, 2021, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST each day.  Extended testing hours, until 6 p.m., will be offered on January 15 and January 20. There will be no testing on Monday, January 18.

You must register for a testing slot in advance of your arrival. Registration is now open. Please be sure to register for your testing slot by Friday, January 8. We encourage you to plan your travel around your confirmed testing time; please do NOT just show up to Penn Pavilion without having a confirmed testing slot.

Further details on entry testing, including parking details and on-site procedures, will be shared later.

If you are living on campus this spring:

On-campus and Duke-provided housing will open on Friday, January 15. Please follow the link above to sign up for a testing slot on the day of your move-in, NOT in the days prior. Students will not have access to their residence until they complete their entry test.

If you are living elsewhere in or around Durham this spring:

Undergraduate students who are living elsewhere in Durham (not in Duke-provided housing) this spring will need to be tested by January 20 to have their DukeCard activated in time for the start of classes.   

If you remained on campus over break:

Students who remained on campus over Winter Break will participate in entry testing in early January. Please pay close attention to your email for further instructions on when and how to sign up for your testing slot.

Post-Arrival Sequester Period

After entry testing, all students are required to sequester in their residence hall or off-campus home until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result. Test results will be made available through Duke MyChart, likely 36–48 hours after testing. While awaiting your test results, students are expected to limit any unnecessary movement and activity outside of their room, and should avoid other students and staff during this time.

Any students who test positive will receive isolation instructions, under the care of Duke clinicians, and will participate in contact tracing, which is used to identify any other potential positive cases. 


While we hope this would not happen, public health conditions may require the university to implement a shelter-in-place status, shift to remote-only instruction, or ask you to isolate or quarantine based on your individual circumstance. We don’t say this to alarm anyone—in fact, just the opposite. Simple steps such as maintaining a stock of non-perishable food and water in your room or apartment, ensuring you have needed course materials with you whether in Durham or elsewhere, and having any important items you may need on hand (such as medications, etc.) enable you to adapt to changing conditions. We urge all students to plan for these types of scenarios.

In addition, we will still have policies this spring that limit gatherings, especially indoors and especially while eating. It will be colder in North Carolina, but you should plan to spend time outside. Come prepared with warm long sleeve layers, a coat, gloves, and a hat, and let finaid@duke.edu know if you need information or financial support to get what you might need.

Other aspects of fall pandemic life on campus will resume in the spring semester. Undergraduates can expect to be surveillance tested at least twice per week once they return to campus. Symptom monitoring will also continue, with all students and staff filling out their daily symptom monitoring report in order to be cleared to access campus that day.  Everyone on campus will be required to wear facemasks and maintain distancing.  And all students will still be united by their commitment to the Duke Compact, and each other.

While Duke Health has begun to vaccinate health care personnel per CDC recommendations, we do not anticipate that the vaccine will be available to most students or university staff this spring. Students with underlying medical conditions that put them at risk for severe COVID-19 illness should contact Student Health to discuss potential eligibility for early vaccination.