After two years of requiring masks in classrooms, Duke announced that the classroom mask mandate will be lifted next Thursday, Sept. 22. Unvaccinated individuals will also no longer be required to wear masks indoors.
By then, Durham’s community level will have been below the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s high-risk category for two consecutive weeks, allowing Duke to “take this next step towards more normalcy on campus and in classrooms,” according to a Friday email sent to the Duke community from Provost Sally Kornbluth and Russell Thompson, interim vice president of operations and emergency coordinator.
Faculty members will be allowed to request that students continue to wear masks in their individual classrooms and “should clearly communicate those expectations to the class” if they wish to do so, the email read.
Students who test positive or have COVID symptoms should not attend class until they test negative or are cleared by Student Health. The email also urged students to get the new bivalent COVID booster.
Masks will still be required on Duke buses and vans and in all clinical settings, regardless of the CDC community level, per a July announcement from the COVID-19 Vaccination Planning Work Group.
“Medical experts caution that we are not out of this pandemic yet, and we can expect ongoing variants to emerge that may prove more elusive to vaccines and antibodies and could lead to increases in severe illness and hospitalizations,” the Friday email read. “If so, we must be ready to embrace a return to familiar restrictions and requirements, including indoor masking, that have proven effective in safeguarding our community.”
This is a developing story and will be updated if more information becomes available.
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Kathryn Thomas is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Milla Surjadi is a Trinity junior and a diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator of The Chronicle's 119th volume. She was previously editor-in-chief for Volume 118.