COVID doesn't take holidays, and neither should you.
COVID doesn't take holidays, and neither should you.

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The message is being sent to all Duke undergraduate students.

Friday, October 30, 2020 

Dear undergraduate students,

As Halloween approaches, we can’t help but think that not much is scarier than COVID. Numbers keep rising nationally, and we are watching fellow universities, including many nearby, fight to contain outbreaks on their campuses. We appreciate everything you have been doing to keep Duke on the right course so far, but we can’t let up now. 

The choices you make now could impact your health and the health of those around you, your planned holiday travel, our ability to keep Duke running this fall, and significantly change Duke’s plans for the spring.

We know it’s been a challenging semester, and many of you probably just want to hang out with friends, away from the virus. We want that for you too. However, local COVID rates are as high as they’ve been at any time during the pandemic, and this increase in prevalence means we need to be more careful right now. 

We care about your health and the health of your fellow students and our community members, and we need you to make choices that show you care as well. As we shared yesterday, there are a few ways we need to adjust course to keep Duke on the right track. 
  • We know it’s Halloween. But COVID doesn’t take holidays, and neither can we. We have to keep doing everything in our power to keep each other safer and minimize COVID transmission. 
  • Wear your mask. Stay physically distant. Abide by the Duke Compact. Choose safer, virtual activities this year. 
  • Don’t forget that, per the Duke Compact, no travel outside of Durham is permitted this fall, even if it is just down the road.
  • Remember that any gathering of 5 or more members of an organization will be considered an organizational event, and both the individuals as well as the organization may be held accountable for any violations. 
  • Limit ANY group gatherings, even small ones! People are giving each other COVID in groups of even 2-3. Don’t risk it. 
  • Don’t eat together or share food. All Duke Dining locations are now pick-up only, and eating is no longer allowed in common rooms. Stay at least 6’ apart while eating, and choose a safer place to eat—outside or in your room, away from crowds. This means no groups crowded around a table or sitting close together indoors or outdoors.
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As a reminder, enforcement of Duke’s policies is a part of our COVID response. These efforts are nuanced and hold students progressively accountable depending on the severity of the violations. Since August 7, we have taken the following actions:
  • 19 — Administrative Action Hearings held (for individuals and groups) recommending interim actions such as suspension of activities, loss of campus privileges, remote learning, etc.
  • — Campus organizations placed on suspension
  • — Individual students issued interim suspensions for flagrant violations of COVID policy expectations and the Duke Compact pending an administrative hearing, including for hosting gatherings and failing to follow quarantine and isolation protocols to protect fellow students.
  • 179 —  Sanctions implemented by either Office of Student Conduct or Housing and Residence Life—these actions are part of a student’s conduct record and in some cases reportable to graduate schools, study away programs, and employers
  • 408 — Students referred for educational interventions for less severe infractions of the Duke Compact—these outcomes are not part of a students’ disciplinary record
  • 11 — Pending cases under review for potential administrative action involving more flagrant misconduct and persistent non-compliance by individuals.

As a result of these violations, some students have lost their right to remain on campus and must work remotely for the remainder of the semester. Some also face charges that could result in their suspension or permanent expulsion from Duke.

The university updates the COVID testing tracker every Monday. We will provide another update on student conduct on December 4. 

We are in this together. Please stay motivated, stay vigilant, and keep supporting each other in doing this right. We are so close!

Thank you and go Duke,
Mary Pat McMahon
Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Gary G. Bennett
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education  
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