As we continue to expand campus operations there are policies and procedures that all members of the Duke community—faculty, staff, and students—must follow.

All members of the Duke community—faculty, students, staff, and visitors—are required to wear masks or cloth face coverings indoors or while riding a Duke bus or shuttle. Masks are not required while outdoors, with the exception of crowded areas and gatherings where physical distancing is not possible.

While some aspects of our plans are evolving, we know that they will contain preventative health measures to protect ourselves and each other, including many things that are now familiar: receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, wearing a face covering, physical distancing, frequent hand washing, and monitoring of symptoms on a daily basis. The practices for campus have always been, and will continue to be developed using guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as Duke’s Student Health, Employee Health, Occupational and Environmental Safety Office, and our own infectious diseases experts in Duke Health. More information can be found in Duke’s Public Notice and in the sections below.

Disposable face masks or reusable cloth face coverings are required inside Duke University owned or leased buildings, and while riding a Duke bus or shuttle.

Duke University will not require students, employees or visitors to wear masks or face coverings while outdoors, with the exception of crowded areas and gatherings where physical distancing is not possible.

Appropriate use of masks or cloth face coverings is critical in minimizing risks to others nearby–you could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. The mask or cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that wearing a mask not only protects people around you – but you, too. In guidance released on Nov 10, 2020, the CDC reported that studies demonstrate cloth mask materials can offer personal protection and “reduce wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets,” including fine droplets.

Please have a mask or cloth face covering with you at all times and be ready and prepared to quickly put it on.

Disposable masks or reusable cloth face coverings are not required to be worn in the following limited circumstances, however everyone must have a mask or cloth face covering with them at all times and be ready and prepared to quickly put it on in the event of an outdoor gathering of people.

  • When alone in a confined room such as a private office or residence (Note: this does not include meeting rooms, break rooms, or shared environments such as cubicle work stations).
  • When alone in a vehicle.
  • When eating or drinking while following safety guidance such as social distancing.

Medical-grade surgical masks and N95 respirators are reserved for reserved for healthcare workers and other approved areas with task-specific hazards determined by OESO.

Disposable masks may only be worn for one day and then must be placed in the trash. Duke will provide three reusable cloth face coverings to each student, faculty and staff member, if needed. Distribution will be managed through schools and departments for faculty and staff and through Student Affairs for all students.

Cloth face coverings must only be worn for one day at a time, and must be properly laundered with regular clothing detergent before first use, and after each day of use. Having a week supply of cloth face coverings can help reduce the need for daily laundering.

The fabric design or pattern for other reusable face coverings worn by employees should appropriate for the workplace and in compliance with the Workplace Attire Policy.

Putting on the face covering/disposable mask:

  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer prior to handling the face covering/disposable mask.
    • Ensure the face-covering/disposable mask fits over the nose and under the chin.
    • Situate the face-covering/disposable mask properly with nose wire snug against the nose (where applicable).
    • Tie straps behind the head and neck or loop around the ears.
    • Throughout the process: Avoid touching the front of the face covering/disposable mask.

Taking off the face covering/disposable mask:

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing the face covering/disposable mask.
    • When taking off the face covering/disposable mask, loop your finger into the strap and pull the strap away from the ear, or untie the straps.
    • Wash hands immediately after removing.

Handwashing: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or touching your face. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash your hands after touching your face.

Coughing/Sneezing Hygiene:  If you are in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Then throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand sanitizers with greater than 60% ethanol.

Social Distancing: Keeping space between you and others is one of the best tools we have to avoid being exposed to the COVID-19 virus and slowing its spread. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay away from others when possible, even if you have no symptoms. Social distancing is important for everyone, especially to help protect people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Members of the Duke community must follow these social distancing practices:

  • Always stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people
    • Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings, especially those where people are not wearing masks or maintaining social distance


Robust and wide-ranging testing systems are in place. All undergraduate students will be tested for COVID-19 before they are permitted to move in or begin classes. Faculty and staff will be tested if they have any symptoms related to COVID-19. 

All students, faculty and staff on-site must conduct symptom monitoring every day using the SymMon app. Once registered in the system, you will receive a notification each day to complete the symptom survey. You only need to complete the survey on the days in which you will be on campus. If you have any symptoms, you should not go to class or work. Student Health or Employee Health will follow up to assess your symptoms and provide guidance.

You must be free of ANY symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 or have had evaluation and clearance by Student Health or Employee Health to be eligible to return to campus. 

At this time, these symptoms include one or more of the following:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Runny nose or new sinus congestion
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • New gastrointestinal symptoms
  • New loss of taste or smell

Students who have any symptoms must call Student Health at 919-681-9355 and choose option 2 to speak to a triage nurse. For urgent matters after hours, contact UNC Healthlink at 919-966-3820.

Faculty and staff who have any symptoms must call the Duke COVID hotline* (919)385-0429, option 1 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. for assessment of symptoms and COVID-19 testing. You should also wear a face mask to avoid possible virus transmission to others. By contacting the hotline, you will register with Employee Health and must complete the Duke employee survey that will be sent to your email within one hour of receiving it. Employee Health will contact you shortly after you complete the initial survey. You should self-isolate until cleared by Employee Health to return to work.

Contact tracing

If a student, faculty or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, Student Health or Employee Health will conduct contact tracing to quickly and sensitively identify individuals who could have come in contact with them during the time when they were infectious. This process, which involves testing and symptom monitoring of those contacts, is essential to helping reduce the potential spread of infection. 

We recognize the anxiety and emotional strain that these circumstances may place on all of us.


Students on campus and in the Duke vicinity can access Counseling and Psychological Services (919)660-1000, and students anywhere can connect with support through DukeReach (919)681-2455.

Students also now have access to 24/7 mental telehealth support at no cost through Blue Devils Care, which is available to all full- or part-time degree-seeking undergraduate, graduate or professional students.

Faculty & Staff

Personal Assistance Service (PAS) is available to offer emotional support during this stressful period. Telephonic or video counseling is available, and you can access this service using most smartphones, tablets and computers with a camera. You may contact PAS by calling 919-416-1727 or visiting the PAS website (

The best way to prevent illness if to avoid being exposed to the virus. Everyone should:

  • Wash hands often
  • Avoid close contact
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect
  • Monitor your health

 According to the CDC, individuals with certain conditions may have a higher risk for COVID-19 infection. Those conditions may include:

  • Older adults (aged 65 years and older)
  • People with HIV
  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Chronic lung disease
  • Diabetes
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
  • Severe obesity
  • Being immunocompromised

Duke students, faculty or staff members whose health condition falls within one of the CDC High Risk Categories or is pregnant may seek a Temporary COVID-19 Adjustment using the DMS Reasonable Accommodation process by visiting the Disability Management System website ( or calling 919-684-1424.

People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness, according the the CDC.

Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Runny nose or new sinus congestion
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Fatigue
  • New gastrointestinal symptoms
  • New loss of taste or smell

All members of the Duke community are strongly encouraged to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at the Employee Vaccination Clinic or through other venues, including Duke Health. Any faculty, staff or student who has not already done so can schedule an appointment for a free vaccination on campus. Many sites also offer walk-in options.

Faculty or staff members who were vaccinated at a location other than the Duke Employee Vaccination Clinic should upload a picture of their completed vaccination card through the confidential Duke VAXTrax online formto ensure their records are updated. Students should submit their completed vaccination card to Student Health at

During the Fall 2021 semester, Duke will require all students – undergraduate, graduate and professional – to be vaccinated in order to attend classes and other campus activities.

For more information about efforts, visit Duke’s COVID-19 Vaccination website


 Those are posted on Duke Today.

Last spring, the university established a number of working groups to prepare for every aspect of Duke’s return to campus.  These working groups have included numerous individuals from across the university and Health System, and have focused on health and safety, academic policies, residential life, laboratories and research, athletics, financial issues and other areas.  Team 2021, co-chaired by vice president for administration Kyle Cavanaugh and executive vice provost Jennifer Francis, has coordinated the activities of these working groups and provided recommendations and options to President Price and the university leadership for consideration and action.

Duke’s highest priority has been the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community. We have relied on Duke experts in infectious diseases, epidemiology, environmental health and testing, as well as the latest research and best practices and our experience with the continuous operation of our hospitals and clinics, to devise our policies and protocols for campus. We will continuously assess all our public health measures to ensure that the Duke campus is as safe as possible.

If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 contact Student Health (for students) or Employee Health (for faculty and staff) for further guidance.

Yes, you really need to wear a face covering unless you are in private, confined space. Really.

We expect all members of the Duke community to abide by the Duke Compact. For more information please see Community Responsibility.

The university is continuously monitoring campus, local, state and national trends and will adjust policies and operations as needed to protect the health and safety of the Duke community.

Yes. All students, faculty, and staff must continue to complete symptom monitoring in order to access campus facilities. 

Yes. Everyone called for surveillance testing should still participate as scheduled, regardless of vaccination status. 

Yes. Duke’s mask policies apply to everyone, regardless of vaccination status. You should also continue to practice good hand hygiene, keep your distance from others, and avoid large gatherings. Dr. Cameron Wolfe explains why in this video from Duke Health: Should I Keep Wearing a Mask After Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine?