On-campus classes will be suspended until further notice and spring break will be extended for a week, according to an email sent to the Duke community Tuesday evening.
Online classes will begin March 23, and students who are off campus are advised not to return to campus if possible. In addition, the University is suspending events on campus that will involve more than 50 individuals. Facilities for on-campus students will be "limited," and students who must return to campus will need to register with Student Affairs.
"This was not an easy decision to make and came only after reviewing the range of options available in light of the rapidly changing situation in North Carolina, and nationally," President Vincent Price wrote in the email. "The goal is to minimize situations in which members of our community might be exposed to those who have COVID-19, and to protect our students, faculty and staff who might be at elevated risk.
Price explained that students and faculty will receive more detailed information Wednesday regarding the specifics of courses and support.
"In addition, we are developing plans to provide residential students with a prorated reimbursement of any previously paid and unused housing and dining fees," he wrote. "Further information on those plans will be forthcoming."
Mary Pat McMahon, vice president/vice provost for student affairs, and Gary Bennett, vice provost for undergraduate education, sent an email to students several hours after Price's email.
"A decision of this magnitude is unprecedented in Duke’s history, and we need every student’s assistance," they wrote, noting that subsequent information would be released in the coming days.
The full statement can be viewed here.
Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in North Carolina Tuesday afternoon, following seven N.C. residents testing positive for COVID-19. The first case—a person who had recently visited Washington State—was identified in Wake County March 3, and the second came March 6 when a man who had returned from Italy tested positive.
Other colleges have taken measures to prevent the spread of the disease by moving to online classes or telling students to leave campus. Around 50 universities have canceled in-person classes in response, as of 6 p.m. Tuesday evening.
Vanderbilt University canceled classes until March 13, and is suspending in-person classes until at least March 30, whereas Harvard University announced that it would move classes online starting March 23 and asked students not to return to campus following the university's spring break.
Some colleges in California and Washington have also modified their class schedules due to the growing prevalence of COVID-19 in the area.
This story will be updated as additional information becomes available.
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