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Duke maintains safety protocols, keeps facilities closed to public as NC enters Phase 3

<p>Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that North Carolina would move into Phase 3 of reopening Friday at 5 p.m.</p>

Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday that North Carolina would move into Phase 3 of reopening Friday at 5 p.m.

With North Carolina entering Phase 3 of reopening at 5 p.m. Friday, Duke’s safety guidelines are staying the same.

In a Thursday email to the community, Vice President of Administration Kyle Cavanaugh, Executive Vice Provost Jennifer Francis and Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president of student affairs, announced that campus facilities  like the Duke Gardens, the Nasher Museum of Art and the Duke Chapel would continue to be closed to the public—with limited student access.

President Vincent Price wrote in a Thursday email wrote that because of the cooperation of the community, Duke’s testing program and “generally good adherence" to health and safety protocols, Duke has so far kept the rate of COVID-19 infections “relatively low,” enabling the semester to continue as planned.

Duke recorded only eight positive COVID-19 tests between Sept. 19 and 25, out of more than 14,000 tests conducted on students, faculty and staff, according to data released Monday on the University’s testing tracker.

In their email, Cavanaugh, Francis and McMahon emphasized the importance of following safety guidelines both on and off campus. 

"Students are required to observe [COVID-19 safety] guidelines off campus, and faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to do so as well," they wrote. "While a large portion of our workforce continues to work remotely, we continue to receive reports of COVID cases from employees who have attended larger family or community gatherings, especially when social distancing and masking are not being practiced." 

The email noted that the Karsh Alumni and Visitors Center will host an early voting site from Oct. 15 to 31. 

Students seeking access to facilities like the Chapel and the Gardens have to contact the venue to make reservations, they also wrote.

Facilities like the Gardens and the Chapel have been closed to the public since March, when the pandemic first caused shutdowns across much of the country.

Robert Mottern, director of horticulture at the Duke Gardens, told The Chronicle in August that there was “no timeline” for when the Gardens would reopen. The Gardens website posted an update Sept. 4 that noted the Gardens will remain closed through the end of the year.

The Gardens' website notes that faculty and staff can currently " request an appointment for individuals or small groups of faculty, staff and students to visit Duke Gardens for academic needs and student wellness programs." 

The Duke Chapel has been closed to the public since March 11. Although the building has been mostly empty ever since, its bells have never stopped ringing out across campus at 5 p.m. every weekday—a tradition the university has maintained for decades.

For the past seven months, members of the Chapel congregation have had the option to watch livestreamed religious services. Students have had several ways to get involved, including the Chapel’s virtual choir, the Chapel Scholars program, several related academic courses and an online book group.

Meanwhile, the Nasher has expanded online offerings, developing  two new virtual exhibits.


Mona Tong

Mona Tong is a Trinity senior and director of diversity, equity and inclusion analytics for The Chronicle's 117th volume. She was previously news editor for Volume 116.


Chris Kuo | Enterprise Editor

Chris Kuo is a Trinity junior and enterprise editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.


Anna Zolotor | News Editor

Anna Zolotor is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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