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New quarantine facilities, changed mask policies, isolation roommates: A roundup of last week's COVID-19 news

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.

After the first week of in-person classes, a rise in COVID-19 cases and a flurry of policy changes, you might have some questions. The Chronicle has you covered. 

How many positive COVID-19 tests have been reported? 

Duke reported 246 positive COVID-19 tests from Aug. 2 to 22, 203 of which were among students and 43 among faculty and staff. The positivity rate was 0.76%.

From Aug. 16 to 22, Duke reported 113 positive COVID-19 tests—95 among students and 18 among faculty and staff. The positivity rate was 0.64%. 

Data on the number of positive tests is updated each Monday afternoon on Duke’s COVID-19 dashboard

The Chronicle asked Michael Schoenfeld, vice president of public affairs and government relations, on Friday how many students had so far tested positive the week of Aug. 23, the first week of classes. He told The Chronicle the dashboard would be updated Monday.

How many students are currently in quarantine? 

As of Aug. 27, there were about 200 students in isolation, according to Michael Schoenfeld, vice president of public affairs and government relations. Just four days earlier, Vice President for Administration Kyle Cavanaugh told The Chronicle that there were 36 students in quarantine. 

In May 2021, Duke stopped releasing information about the number of individuals in isolation and/or quarantine. As of Monday, Duke had no plans to modify the dashboard to include those numbers. 

How many students, faculty and staff are vaccinated? 

Over 90% of Duke students, faculty and staff were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Aug. 23, according to a press release. All students are required to be fully vaccinated to participate in on-campus activities for the fall semester unless they have an approved medical or religious exemption. 

As of Sunday, faculty and staff must show documentation of their completed COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 1 as a condition of employment. Over 91% of Duke faculty and staff were fully vaccinated as of Sunday. 

Where are students who live on campus and test positive for COVID-19 being isolated? 

Students are moved to isolation at either the Lancaster Apartments or the rooms Duke has secured at The Lodge at Duke Medical Center, two facilities that Duke has utilized over the past year. Cavanaugh told The Chronicle on Monday that there are 150 spaces in these facilities for on-campus students to isolate. 

Students have also confirmed that some are isolating on the third floor of the Hilton Durham. 

I’m in isolation. What do I do about in-person classes? 

Professors teaching in-person classes are not required to provide an online option for students who miss class due to COVID-19, according to a Friday email sent to Trinity College of Arts & Sciences faculty and staff from the Office of the Dean of Trinity. 

Trinity students who are sick or isolating are instructed to complete a short-term incapacitation form “and make up work for the class as they did prior to the pandemic.” 

I’ve been contact-traced. What’s Duke’s current policy on quarantining?

If a contact-traced individual is fully vaccinated, they no longer are required to quarantine as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but will undergo “more frequent testing for the period after their exposure,” according to Cavanaugh. If an unvaccinated individual is determined to be a “close contact,” they will be sent to quarantine for 10 days.

What’s life like in quarantine? 

Students in isolation have reported that they received roommates, a protocol that was included in last year’s plans as well, according to Schoenfeld. 

Many students in Lancaster Commons have violated quarantine policies, according to members of the Pandemic Response Unit in a Friday email to students quarantined there. Staff described “groups of nearly a dozen” people entering other students’ isolation apartments or other Lancaster buildings at “full volume” without masks. The email warned that students could be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards if they continued to violate policies.   

What’s Duke’s current policy on masking and indoor dining? 

Masks are now required at outdoor events with over 100 people in attendance and Duke “strongly recommends” that masks are worn outdoors even in small groups, according to Cavanaugh and Provost Sally Kornbluth. Masks are required inside all University-owned buildings, including campus residence halls. 

These policies, implemented during the first week of class, signal a departure from the University’s July 27 mask mandate which did not require masks in residence halls or establish controls on events. 

Outdoor dining is also encouraged. More tents will be added across campus to accommodate “larger numbers of students and employees who wish to eat together.” 

Are any facilities closed due to COVID-19? 

The basketball courts in the Wilson Recreation Center and Card Gym closed indefinitely on Saturday. The closure was due to a “lack of adherence” to Duke’s policy requiring masks to be worn inside all University buildings, according to an email from Duke Recreation & Physical Education. 

When is testing open?

Surveillance testing was originally scheduled to be open Monday through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. across various sites. Friday testing hours will be based upon “necessity and size,” per Cavanaugh. Testing centers closed at 1 p.m. last Friday, which several students told The Chronicle they were not made aware of previously.


Milla Surjadi | University News Editor

Milla Surjadi is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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