The Chronicle is reporting on Twitter that VP Kyle Cavanaugh has informed them that in-person classes are set to resume on January 18. Clearly, it is within the purview of the Duke administration to make this decision, and I assume that the decision was made in consultation with the appropriate faculty governance committees. I also assume that the administration is aware that this decision will likely lead to significant concerns for faculty, staff and students who are (or caring for individuals who are) at high-risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and/or who have young children who are ineligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
In this context, I call on the administration to include results from this week's surveillance testing in the communication that will presumably be sent out to announce the resumption of in-person classes. Going forward for the next few weeks, it would be extremely informative to have surveillance testing results released on a daily basis. The current approach of releasing results every Monday for the prior week renders the results to be essentially useless for any meaningful risk assessment by individuals, especially given the fast spread of the Omicron variant. Finally, I call on the administration to make public projections of caseloads under various scenarios for the coming weeks. This information will provide faculty, staff and students a fuller picture of the campus COVID-19 landscape that we are being asked to return to and what we can expect going forward in the next few weeks.
And last but not least, faculty, staff and students should be able to request temporary exemptions from returning to in-person classes during the current Omicron wave depending on their individual and familial COVID-19 risk profile.
Prasad Kasibhatla is a professor in the Nicholas School.
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