In effort to help protect members of the Duke community, the University conducts three different types of tests for COVID-19: Entry Testing for all incoming students; Surveillance Testing on a weekly basis for asymptomatic students, faculty and staff; and Symptomatic Testing for those experiencing symptoms. You can find more information about these tests, including when, where and how they are conducted below.

Entry Testing – 2021 Fall Semester

  • All students coming to campus during the fall semester will be required to complete COVID-19 entry testing upon arrival in Durham. Please note that DukeCards for upperclassmen and graduate/professional students will not be activated until they complete entry testing.
  • Entry testing for graduate and professional students who have been participating in surveillance testing through the summer will begin the week of Aug. 2 at Penn Pavilion on West Campus.
  • Entry testing for all other students will be managed by appointment beginning the week of Aug. 9 at Penn Pavilion on West Campus. A
  • First-year students will complete entry testing on Tuesday, Aug. 17 at Brodie Gym on East Campus. All first-year students must complete an entry test by Aug. 17 to ensure their DukeCards remain active.

Additional details regarding scheduling appointments will be sent directly to students by email.

  • Entry tests will also to be available on a walk-in basis on Tuesday, Aug. 24 and Wednesday, Aug. 25 from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Penn Pavilion.
  • Beginning Thursday, Aug. 26, entry tests will be available throughout the semester on a walk-in basis at the Washington Duke Inn testing site from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. This site is open Monday – Thursday for the upcoming semester. When coming to this site for an entry test, student must inform staff on site that they need an entry test, not a surveillance test.

Testing Process

Duke will conduct regular testing of students and other campus community members who do not have any symptoms to assist in the early detection and response for potential COVID-19 cases on campus.

Unvaccinated students will be required to complete surveillance testing two times per week, and vaccinated students will be required to complete surveillance testing at least once per week. Students will receive notification emails with the day for their surveillance test. If students miss a test, their DukeCard will be deactivated at 7 p.m. on the day of the missed test; it cannot be reactivated until the missed test is made up on the next available testing day.

Beginning September 1, 2021, unvaccinated faculty and staff must participate in weekly surveillance testing.

The self-administered process should take about 5 minutes, and collection sites will be established in multiple locations on East and West campuses for convenience. Below are the steps for the screening process:

Step 1: Select participants will receive an email with details to conduct a surveillance test on specific days.

Step 2: On the day for their test, participants should visit one of community screening collection sites on the campus where they reside or work.

Step 3: Participants should arrive at the test site with their DukeCard ID or phone with the SymMon app (be sure you have the latest version). You will use your SymMon app to scan your test kit or a  site coordinator will scan your DukeCard ID and provide you with a test kit.

Step 4: Testing will be self-administered and should only take about 5 minutes to complete.

Testing will involve inserting a cotton swab into each nasal passage and rotating it against the inner nasal lining in a circle three times. The swab does not need to be inserted far – just enough so the cotton tip is no longer visible.

The swab is then placed into a collection tube with a bar code, which will be placed in a bag and then deposited into a cooler at the collection site.

That’s it.

Pooled testing of samples will be conducted by the Duke Human Vaccine Institute. Results from tests typically take about 48 hours. You will only be contacted if the results are positive for COVID-19, at which point you will receive further medical guidance and support.

Surveillance Test Sites: 2021 Fall Semester

Surveillance testing is conducted weekly to help monitor any asymptomatic transmission of the virus within the Duke community. The frequency of how often you’re called in for testing will depend on a number of factors, including your vaccination status and whether you’ve been potentially exposed to the virus.


  • Week of August 2 – no surveillance testing this week
  • Week of August 9
  • Week of August 16
    • Monday – Thursday: 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
      • Location: Washington Duke Inn, Varsity Golf Center (7 a.m. – 6 p.m.) – See map for location.

Beginning Aug. 23 surveillance testing will be conducted Monday – Thursday during the fall semester. Testing will be conducted at the following sites from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. unless otherwise noted below:

East Campus

West Campus

Downtown Durham 

  • Power House, 300 Fuller Street, Multi-purpose Room 101


Students are required to complete surveillance testing on days in which they are requested to do so. Students not completing this requirement will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct or their Graduate/Professional Program. Students who miss testing may lose their ability to access campus facilities.

Unvaccinated faculty and staff coming to campus will be required to complete weekly surveillance testing. Those not completing required testing by Thursday at 6 p.m. will have their DukeCards immediately disabled until completing the required test. Faculty or staff members who continue to not participate in required testing will have their NetID deactivated, limiting their access to email and other Duke systems. They may also be subject to disciplinary action in violation of Duke’s safety policy.

Contacts for Student Questions

Undergraduates: Undergraduates with questions should email

Graduate & Professional Students: If you have received this message and don’t plan to be in Durham for the upcoming semester, please contact your program (see list of names/emails below) and ask to be removed from the entry and surveillance testing processes.

If you fail to report for testing on your scheduled date, your DukeCard will remain inactive (with the exception of students who have been approved to access clinical and research settings) until you are tested, and your name will be reported to your program leadership.

SchoolCompliance ContactsEmails
Fuqua Fuqua Testing
NSOE – Marine LabMarine Lab COVID
SOM – Basic Science MS
and PhD students
The Graduate School – does not include Basic Science MS and PhD studentsHelene

FAQs: Surveillance Testing During Semester

Because many individuals who are infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic, one of the best ways to identify potential cases is to conduct surveillance testing on a regular basis. This testing will help Duke medical experts identify and respond to positive cases in the Duke community. Taking these steps will help limit the spread of COVID-19 so that campus activities can continue.

At the test site, individuals will be provided with a cotton swab, a collection tube, and a plastic bag. Participants will take the insert the cotton swab into each nasal passage and rotate it against the inner nasal lining three times. The swab does not need to be inserted far – just enough so the cotton tip is no longer visible. The swab is then inserted into a collection tube, placed in the plastic bag and deposited into cooler on-site for processing at the lab.

The testing process should only take about 5 minutes to complete.

Results from surveillance test may take 36-48 hours, and you will only be contacted if the results are positive for COVID-19, at which point you will receive further medical guidance and support.

The frequency of testing may vary for different groups on campus.

Surveillance testing for graduate students is on a more frequent schedule for the start of the semester so that any positive tests are caught as early as possible. Students who have an entry test will immediately start getting called for surveillance tests in order to catch possible COVID exposure that was not picked up in entry testing due to timing of exposure. For example: if a student was exposed to a COVID+ person on Jan 11 and took an entry test on Jan 12, that test might be negative because the viral load was not large enough to be detected. The student might only become viremic 3 days later, or might not be viremic for 5 (or more) days. By doing surveillance testing more frequently at first, positive cases will be identified early and this will significantly help to limit the spread of the virus.

The plan for the upcoming semester is to surveillance test graduate and professional students on average once per week. That frequency is always subject to change based on hotspots and populations of concern.

Faculty and staff with more on-campus exposure may also be tested once a week during the semester.

The initial focus for surveillance testing will be undergraduate students living on campus. Half of these students will be screened during the first week, and the other half will be screened the following week. Testing will expand afterward to include off-campus students, faculty who teach courses on-site and staff with more exposure to students on campus.

Testing will also depend on the results of test data over time. Broader testing of specific groups may be necessary if positive cases are found to cluster in specific geographic areas of campus.

As part of The Duke Compact, students are required to participate in this safety initiative as a means of helping to monitor the potential spread of COVID-19 and respond quickly to positive cases.

Completing regular surveillance testing by students is required as part of your responsibility as a member of the Duke community. Failing to complete testing may jeopardize your status as a student.

You should make every effort to complete the surveillance test on your appointed day. If you have a conflict, please email

Yes, once you receive notification regarding what day you are scheduled for testing, you should choose one of several sites near your residence hall or work location.

All you need to bring with you to the testing site is your DukeCard and your mobile phone with the SymMon app (be sure you have version 1.6 or later).

If you have ANY symptoms related to COVID-19 on the day you are scheduled for a surveillance test, you should not go for testing. Instead, contact the Duke COVID-19 Hotline at 919-385-0429 and wait for guidance from medical staff.

YES. While the frequency of testing may vary for different student groups, it is not unusual for students to be asked to complete more than one surveillance test in a seven-day period. Only students who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past three months or who are currently in quarantine or isolation should not report for surveillance testing. If you qualify for one of those categories, please contact to ask for assistance.

Our team is working with the leadership of each school to ensure that students in low-residency programs have testing protocols that work for them. For example, Global Executive MBA and Weekend Executive MBA students will only be tested while completing an in-person component of their program. Students in these programs may disregard the notice to participate in surveillance testing this week.

FAQs: Graduate/Professional Student Testing Protocols

You do not need to report a negative test result from outside Duke. If you receive a POSITIVE result from outside Duke, you must report that result to Student Health by calling 919-681-9355, selecting option 2, and speaking to the COVID hotline.

All students in the surveillance testing pool are required to participate in an entry testing regardless of a prior negative test result. This includes students who have been participating in winter break surveillance testing.

We recommend getting tested before you come to campus or engage with the Durham community so that if you test positive, you can follow the appropriate isolation guidelines in your current location and delay your return until it is safe for you to do so without spreading the virus to others.

You still need to make an appointment in order to submit, in person, a hard copy of your positive test result for verification. You will not be retested, but submitting a copy of your test result from the last three months is required for you to have your DukeCard activated.

No. If you are still in isolation due to a positive COVID-19 test, or quarantining because of exposure to someone who has been infected, do not go to your appointment at Penn Pavilion. Follow the guidance of Student Health with regard to when you can safely return to campus and resume any activities in public spaces around Durham. 

Parking is in the Wellness Center lot. You will see signage posted there and a Duke United Testing sign posted at Towerview and Union Drive. There is no charge to park while getting tested.

You can assume that logistics will be very similar to the arrangements that we had for gateway testing in the fall.

Because you agreed to COVID policies for this school year, you must still complete an entry test and surveillance testing. This remains the case even if you do not plan to come to campus. 

Contact your designated program contact for COVID testing and inform them of your move.

At the moment, you have the option of remaining outside of our testing framework, so long as you will continue to be entirely remote this semester (not even coming to campus to pick up library books or for any other purpose). We encourage you, however, to opt into testing, since many graduate and professional students interact off campus, and regular testing has been a crucial element of our ability to limit spread of the virus on and off campus.  

Yes. If such a student shows up in contact tracing, for example, we will add that individual to the surveillance testing pool. It is also possible that the appearance of a cluster in a given apartment complex might lead to a requirement that any “entirely remote” student residents in that complex also participate in surveillance testing.

You should contact your school’s designated program contact for COVID-19 testing. Your program leadership is aware that some students may need to begin their coursework remotely.

Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate students outside of their assigned testing period. If you cannot make your testing period, you will be required to participate in learning remotely until later in January, when we can accommodate students who were unable to get tested during their assigned testing periods. We understand this may be a significant challenge for some students, but the logistics of testing the entire community preclude us from making exceptions to the designated testing timeframes. 

Student Health will be following rigorous COVID-19 safety protocols, including social distancing, strict use of PPE, and appropriate spacing and ventilation within Penn Pavilion. 

Yes. Surveillance testing will continue next semester and will begin immediately after entry testing. Any changes to the locations, hours, or protocols for testing sites or times will be shared widely in advance.

Yes. Our health professionals have deemed that participation is still required.

Symptomatic Testing and Testing for Exposed Individuals

Any student, faculty, or staff member who becomes symptomatic or is referred by either Employee Health or Student Health should not participate in surveillance testing. Student Health or Employee Health will advise where individuals should be tested.


Students experience symptoms of COVID-19 should call Student Health during business hours at 919-681-9355 and choose option 2 to speak to a triage nurse. For urgent matters after hours, you may speak to a nurse by calling 919-966-3820.


Employees experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should call the Duke COVID hotline* (919-385-0429 option 1 for employees) for assessment and COVID-19 testing. You must self-isolate until cleared by Employee Health to return to work.

Isolation for COVID-Positive Students

Students who test positive will be placed in isolation on campus.

  • Isolation is for students who have already been diagnosed positive with COVID-19.
  • Isolated students will be under the care of Duke clinicians during an isolation window.
  • A Duke clinician will determine when a student’s isolation period is complete.
  • For students in Duke-provided housing, isolated students will be moved to separate housing.
  • If isolated, students should not leave their assigned rooms other than to take strolls outside to get air. Meals will be delivered. 

Contact tracing will be used to identify other potential positive cases.