Editor's note: Duke announced after the publication of this article that there will be an alternative option for students unable to schedule a PCR test within 48 hours prior to their arrival on campus.
Duke clarified more information about its COVID-19 PCR test requirement for students returning to campus after winter break.
The University “is asking students who are away from campus over break to do everything they can to get a PCR test within 48 hours [prior to] arriving back on campus—and to try as best they can to get those results back before traveling—in order to minimize the overall number of students traveling to Durham while positive and contagious,” wrote Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president of student affairs, in an email to The Chronicle Tuesday evening.
McMahon acknowledged that the process “is not going to be timed perfectly in every case,” as PCR results usually take about one to three days to return. She wrote that students who test positive should contact Student Health and follow isolation protocols. If students learn that they are positive before traveling, they should “stay where they are and not travel until after their contagious period.”
Duke will send additional information about other concerns—such as students who have longer travel journeys back to Duke, recently had COVID-19 or are having trouble scheduling tests—before this weekend, McMahon wrote.
Duke announced Dec. 22 that students who will be at Duke for the spring 2022 semester must be prepared to attest that they have received a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours before arrival on campus. Only professionally administered PCR tests will be accepted; self-administered tests and rapid tests will not be permitted.
Testing within 48 hours before arrival will help Duke “get the best sense of [students’ statuses] when they get to their apartment or residence hall,” McMahon explained.
“We really appreciate the efforts individual students and families are making right now, as these individual efforts all help our collective goal of resuming in-person classes the week of Jan. 10,” McMahon added. “I'm also grateful to all the team members at Duke who are striving over the holiday to pivot as best we can (again) to help make the in-person academic and community experience possible this spring.”
Leah Boyd is a Pratt junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 117th volume.