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At least some students to return in Fall, details to be announced by end of June

"Students will be returning" to campus for the Fall semester, with details—including how many will return, what the calendar will be and what the return looks like—to be announced by the end of June, Michael Schoenfeld, vice president for public affairs and government relations, wrote in a Thursday email to The Chronicle.

President Vincent Price also sent a Thursday email to students and families, in which he provided information about the Fall semester, including configuring on-campus and remote learning. 

“As we work toward coming back to school safely in the fall, we are innovating every part of the Duke experience—from the academic calendar to residential living—to provide students the best and safest possible configuration of on-campus and high-quality remote teaching,” Price wrote. 

Price shared in the email that although there is still “a lot we don’t know” regarding the Fall semester, it is confirmed that Duke will be open—though specific details of attendance and schedule remain unknown. He wrote that the University will make these specific decisions about the structure of the Fall semester by the end of June.

“We are committed to getting this right, and responsible decision making must be based on a clearer understanding of public health and safety issues than is now available,” he wrote. “Our decisions also have to be informed by our experience from these early campus restarts. Making choices now in the absence of this vital information would jeopardize safety of our students, faculty, staff and the wider community, even if it seems to provide the certainty so many of us desire.”

Price added that the next academic year will “not look anything like the past.” He wrote that there will be “necessary changes” in how spaces are configured, classes are delivered and campus activities are run. The University will “be resilient and adapt to the new reality,” he wrote.  

He noted in the email that hundreds of researchers and scientists are returning to campus this week to continue research, with “new protocols for social distancing, daily monitoring, and testing, contact tracing and medical supervision.”

He also wrote that the planning teams assembled in April are continuing work in developing “a range of options” to protect health and safety and focus on continuing the quality of the University’s education, research, public service and patient-care missions.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University announced earlier on Thursday that their Fall semester will have an early start. Both schools will begin the semester Aug. 10, finish final exams before Thanksgiving and forgo fall break.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the attribution of a quote from Price's email.

This is a developing story and will be updated if new information becomes available. 

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