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Duke mostly rolls back outdoor mask mandate, keeps other policies the same after drop in COVID-19 cases

Bryan Center Plaza on Thursday, March 12 around 1:30 p.m.
Bryan Center Plaza on Thursday, March 12 around 1:30 p.m.

Duke reported only 37 COVID-19 cases the week of Sept. 6 to 12. This comes only two weeks after there were 364 cases during the first week of classes, from Aug. 23 to 29.

One main policy will be changing, per a Wednesday afternoon email to undergraduate students from Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president for student affairs, and Gary Bennett, vice provost of undergraduate education.

What’s changed?

Duke lifted its outdoor mask mandate except in instances of large outdoor events, the University announced on Tuesday. Masks are still required indoors.

Additionally, undergraduate faculty have “largely returned” to in-person teaching as of Monday. Faculty were given the option to teach remotely for two weeks on Aug. 30 following the surge in COVID-19 cases the week prior.

What guidelines are continuing?

In addition to required indoor masking, Duke will continue limiting indoor seating at Duke Dining facilities. 

Student organizations with 50 or more attendees will still need to be registered and approved through DukeGroups, a practice established last academic year as well.

“Events should be held outside when possible and, if an event is not approved before the event is to take place, event hosts should plan to hold it virtually,” Bennett and McMahon wrote.

Additionally, undergraduate students hosting “informal social gatherings” on- or off-campus must require masks for attendees and cap attendance at 50 people. Hosts and possibly attendees found in violation of this policy will face disciplinary action.

McMahon and Bennett noted that they are "pleased" to see the decline in COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks.

"As we have learned, however, the situation can change quickly, so we need to make sure that we do not let our guard down completely."


Leah Boyd | Editor-in-Chief

Leah Boyd is a Pratt junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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