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Masking in classrooms not required at this time as COVID-19 cases decline in Durham, at Duke

<p>The new Student Health and Wellness Center.&nbsp;</p>

The new Student Health and Wellness Center. 

As COVID-19 cases decline in Durham, Duke will not require masking in classrooms at this time, per a Monday email from administrators. 

Last week Duke administrators announced that if Durham remained in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “high risk” classification for two consecutive weeks, Duke would return to mandatory masking inside classrooms.

Although the CDC classified Durham in the high-risk category again last week, “we are seeing signs of declining trends at Duke and in the community,” the email read. 

On-campus cases have fallen more than 60% in the last week, despite the full return to campus activities, according to the email sent from Carol Epling, executive director of employee occupational health and wellness, John Vaughn, assistant vice president for student affairs & student health director and Cameron R. Wolfe, associate professor of medicine. 

In the last week, COVID-19 cases in Durham have also dropped by 40%, the email read.  

Durham County has seen 782 cases between Jan. 5 and Jan. 11, with a 14.82% positivity rate as of Jan. 10. These numbers have both decreased in recent weeks — there were previously 1310 cases between Dec. 29 and Jan. 4 and an 18.96% testing positivity rate as of Jan. 3 data. 

“We believe these downward trends will continue and expect Durham to drop below the high community level soon,” the email read.

Masking in classrooms and other indoor gatherings is “strongly recommended.” Faculty members currently can still request that students wear masks in their classrooms. 

Masks continue to be required on Duke buses and vans. The policy will be “reassessed later in the semester based on case rates in the community,” according to a December email from administrators. 

The email also encouraged community members to get their bivalent COVID booster, and said anyone with flu-like symptoms should not go to class or work, should wear a mask and get a PCR test. 

COVID-19 testing on campus 

Duke will end asymptomatic surveillance testing on campus on March 10, per a December email. Until March 10, limited surveillance testing for asymptomatic community members will be available at the Washington Duke Inn and the Levine Science Research Center. Sites are open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Community members with flu-like symptoms can get PCR tests at Student Health or Employee Health, submit a symptom report through the SymMon app, or call the Employee Health COVID hotline at 919-385-0429, option 1. 

For those not experiencing symptoms, you can still get a PCR test at the two locations or pick up one rapid antigen test a week at no charge with a DukeID through Duke Stores in the Bryan Center. 

Kathryn Thomas | News Editor

Kathryn Thomas is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

Milla Surjadi | Editor-in-Chief

Milla Surjadi is a Trinity junior and editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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