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Duke announces entry testing procedure for spring semester

Students must be tested at Penn Pavilion, pictured here before the pandemic, to have their DukeCards activated.
Students must be tested at Penn Pavilion, pictured here before the pandemic, to have their DukeCards activated.

Undergraduates received more information about entry testing and other protocols for arriving in Durham in a Friday email from Gary Bennett, vice provost for undergraduate education, and Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president for student affairs.

Under the spring guidelines, students returning to Durham for the spring semester are asked to quarantine for 10 days before traveling. Additionally, traveling students are “strongly encouraged” to receive a COVID-19 test within five days before arriving in Durham. 

Meanwhile, entry testing—upon arrival in Durham—will take place in Penn Pavilion Jan. 14 to 20 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Extended testing hours until 6 p.m. will be available on Jan. 15 and 20, and no testing will take place Jan. 18. Students must register for a testing slot by Jan. 8.

Entry tests are mandatory for students who intend to live on campus or “be on campus for any reason and any length of time,” except for students who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last three months, who will abide by a different set of procedures. 

Students planning to live on campus must receive their entry tests on their move-in date and cannot access their residence nor activate their Duke Card until it is completed. Undergraduates living elsewhere in Durham and not in Duke-provided housing should also plan to be tested by Jan. 20. 

All students will be required to sequester in their place of residence until they receive a negative result from their entry test. Results will be available through Duke MyChart approximately 36-48 hours after testing. While sequestering, students should “limit any unnecessary movement and activity outside of their home, and should avoid other students and staff during this time.”

The email also encouraged students to take simple measures, like maintaining a stock of non-perishable food and water, in case of an emergency shelter-in-place status. Students were also told to pack for cold weather and “plan to spend time outside” due to policies that limit gathering sizes and indoor activities.

As in the fall semester, students should expect to be surveillance tested at least twice per week and perform their daily symptom monitoring. Face masks, social distancing and adhering to the Duke Compact are expected for all on campus, just as in the fall.

Bennett and McMahon noted that Duke does “not anticipate that the vaccine will be available to most students or university staff this spring.” They encouraged students at higher risk for the coronavirus to contact student health about eligibility for early vaccination.

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