Duke Updates Reopening Plans

With COVID-19 numbers trending in wrong direction, Duke will reduce number of residential students in fall semester

With the growing numbers of new COVID-19 cases in both North Carolina and the country, Duke University is adjusting plans for the residential component of its fall semester.

In a message sent to Duke students, faculty and staff Sunday, President Vincent E. Price said the university will limit Duke-provided housing in the fall to first-year students, sophomores and students who require special accommodations because of personal, academic or other reasons.  Juniors and seniors will receive priority for the spring semester, Price added, with first-year students and sophomores to join them if conditions improve.

The decision to revise the university’s Fall 2020 plans came amid an increase of COVID-19 in North Carolina and in Durham in particular, and following discussions with leading infectious disease experts and other Duke experts who have been advising Price and the university leadership on public health measures related to the pandemic, including a comprehensive COVID-19 testing program that will cover all undergraduate and graduate students.

Price said it was essential to reduce the student residential population by 30 percent to ensure that the university can provide a safe environment for students and employees. Undergraduates who are already planning to live off-campus, as well as graduate and professional students, will still be able to take classes on-campus, though it is expected that a significant proportion of Duke’s curriculum will be delivered online.

“This change in plans is deeply disappointing for all of us,” Price said.  “The connections we make and the ideas we create when we are together in classrooms, commons rooms, and across campus are what make Duke such an extraordinary place, and it will be difficult to have those experiences significantly constrained this fall.

“At the same time, the challenges we face together are temporary, and we are working to ensure both that the Duke experience we are offering this fall lives up to our extraordinary potential and that the Duke of the years to come is an even stronger, more vibrant community.”

(The full message, along with an FAQ on residential life, safety measures, and COVID-19 testing, can be found on Duke Today.)