Duke Graduate School
Dear graduate students,
Earlier today, graduate students who indicated that they plan to access campus facilities over winter break should have received an email from Executive Vice Provost Jennifer Francis, outlining policies for COVID surveillance testing and campus access over the break. That email and other winter break logistical information are also posted at https://gradschool.duke.edu/winter2020.
I know you have received multiple communications and surveys in the past two weeks regarding these topics. Provost Francis’ email today supersedes all previous guidance on surveillance testing and campus access over winter break. Her email reflects adjustments in the university’s original plan so as to better accommodate graduate students, such as keeping a student’s DukeCard access turned on after a single missed surveillance test during the break. The Graduate School and other professional schools advocated for these adjustments based on students’ feedback through the surveys.
Despite these changes, please continue to do your best to participate in surveillance testing as scheduled. As Provost Francis noted, The Graduate School will monitor no-show reports and make decisions about card access as necessary. If you have any questions about surveillance testing and campus access, please contact Graduate School Registrar Helene McAdams (helene.mcadams@duke.edu).
I also want to remind you to remain vigilant over the break. As you are no doubt aware, COVID cases are surging again, and the situation is expected to get worse over the winter. The CDC is advising against traveling during Thanksgiving, and Duke strongly discourages any traveling over the break. There may be situations where you have to travel, whether for family obligations, research needs, or your mental wellbeing after this past semester. I would ask, however, that you give serious thought to the health risks of traveling as you make your plans for the next couple months. If you must travel, be sure to follow all guidelines to protect your own health and the health of people that you will come into contact with during and after your trip. 
Finally, I want to commend you for making it through a most unusual and challenging semester, and for your role in protecting the health of the Duke and Durham communities. It took a lot of work and luck for the university to keep the COVID situation on campus under control this fall, and it would not have been possible without your contribution. I hope you have a safe and restful winter break. Take care!
Paula D. McClain, Ph.D.
Dean of The Graduate School
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
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