Duke will no longer require masks on buses and vans, per a Sunday email to students, faculty and staff. Masks will continue to be required in patient-care and clinical settings and for anyone who is symptomatic.
Masking is recommended on buses, according to the email, and masks will remain available to passengers when boarding buses.
Over the last academic year, buses and vans were one of the few spaces on campus that required masking. In March 2022, Duke removed the mask requirement in indoor facilities other than classrooms and on Duke transit. Then in September 2022, the University ended its classroom mask mandate.
This change in COVID-19 protocol follows a series of rollbacks as campus COVID risk continues to decline, according to the email.
“During the last 18 months, we have seen immunity through vaccination or natural infection increase to about 90 percent of our population. This has led to a steep decline in cases and severe illness,” wrote 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 email.
Duke is also “assessing potential changes in the COVID vaccination policy given the increase in community immunity levels and decline in severity of illness.”
The University currently requires “up-to-date vaccination against COVID-19 for all students, faculty, and staff” unless an individual has an approved medical or religious exemption. Duke also required all students and employees to provide proof of receiving the COVID-19 booster shot in February 2022.
Incoming students must complete a World Health Organization approved COVID-19 vaccination series prior to participation in on-campus activities. A booster dose is recommended, but not required for most students. Newly hired Duke employees are required to have received at least a single dose of a World Health Organization approved COVID-19 vaccination and a booster dose.
COVID-19 testing on campus
Duke has also closed its surveillance testing sites on campus and limited COVID-19 case management.
The last two surveillance test sites on campus stopped operating prior to spring break. For symptomatic members of the Duke Community, symptomatic testing will still be available through Student Health or the Employee Exposure Hotline, which can be reached at 919-385-0431.
Additionally, at-home antigen tests can be purchased at the Duke Store in the Bryan Center. Anyone with a DukeCard can receive one test kit a week at no charge.
Formal student COVID case management also ends today, per the email. Students who test positive for COVID should isolate in place for at least 5 days from symptom onset and wear a mask when indoors or around others for 10 days.
The SymMon app that was previously used to report symptoms and test results will be retired on April 3. The email stated that employees can use the My COVID Link to report symptoms and test results, and students can contact Student Health for support.
“We acknowledge the possibility that a new COVID variant could change the current trends and require us to modify our approach regarding vaccination, masking and other safety protocols,” the email read. “We will continue to monitor and assess global and local data to determine if such changes are needed in the future.”
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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 editor-in-chief of The Chronicle's 118th volume.