Entry Testing for Spring Semester 2021

All students who will be living on campus or who plan to be on campus for approved academic purposes were then required to undergo testing for COVID-19 upon their arrival to campus. Please note that your DukeCard will not be activated until you complete entry testing.

Prior to arrival, students should report any positive results to Student Health through Duke MyChart and observe isolation protocols BEFORE returning to Durham. If you are in quarantine due to exposure to others with COVID-19, please inform Student Health. You should NOT return to campus or Durham until your quarantine or isolation period has ended and you are symptom-free. If you are in isolation and cannot return to campus at the designated time, please email keeplearning@duke.edu, and contact Student Health and your academic dean.

Undergraduate Entry Testing:

You must register for a testing slot in advance of your arrival. Please be sure to register for your testing slot by Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. We encourage you to plan your travel around your confirmed testing time; do NOT just show up to Penn Pavilion without having a confirmed testing slot.

If you are living on campus this spring : On-campus and Duke-provided housing will open on Friday, January 15, 2021. Please follow the link below to sign up for a testing slot on the day of your move-in, NOT in the days prior. Students will not have access to their residence until they complete their entry test.

If you are living elsewhere in or around Durham this spring: Undergraduate students who are living elsewhere in Durham (not in Duke-provided housing) this spring will need to be tested by January 20, 2021 to have their DukeCard activated in time for the start of classes.   

If you remained on campus over break: Students who remained on campus over Winter Break will participate in entry testing in early January. Please pay close attention to your email for further instructions on when and how to sign up for your testing slot.

  • When: January 14 – 20, 2021, 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day. (Note: No testing on Monday, Jan. 18 due to MLK, Jr. holiday. Extended hours until 6 p.m. on Jan. 15 and Jan. 20).
  • Where: Penn Pavilion, West Campus.
  • How: Register here for your entry test.

Graduate/Professional Student Entry Testing:

Graduate and professional students who plan to be on campus for any reason and any length of time this spring, even just to pick up library books, are required to participate in entry testing upon their arrival in Durham. Please note that your DukeCard will not be activated until you complete entry testing, unless you have been cleared to continue coming to campus and are currently participating in winter break surveillance testing.

Entry testing for graduate and professional students will take place in Penn Pavilion. You must register for a testing slot in advance. Each graduate and professional student was sent an email with their assigned testing window based on program start date as well as the need to access labs and other campus facilities. Please be sure to register for your testing slot by Wednesday, Dec. 30 using the link in the email you received on Dec. 21, 2020.   

We encourage you to plan your travel around your confirmed testing time; please do NOT just show up to Penn Pavilion without having a confirmed testing slot. Further details on entry testing, including parking details and on-site procedures, will be shared later. In the meantime, questions about testing may be sent to your program contact.

Post-Arrival Sequester Period

After entry testing, all students are required to sequester in their residence hall or off-campus home until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result. Test results will be made available through Duke MyChart, likely 36 – 48 hours after testing. While awaiting your test results, students are expected to limit any unnecessary movement and activity outside of their room, and should avoid other students and staff during this time.

Any students who test positive will receive isolation instructions, under the care of Duke clinicians, and will participate in contact tracing, which is used to identify any other potential positive cases. 

Surveillance Testing During Spring Semester

Duke will conduct regular surveillance 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.

Testing will begin the week of Jan. 6 for faculty, staff and students on-site. Testing locations will be expanded in subsequent weeks as operations expand. All students will be required to participate in surveillance testing several times a week. 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

Testing sites and times are listed below from Monday, April 5 – Friday, April 9. Hours of operation are typically 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., with exceptions listed below:

West Campus:

East Campus:

Medical Campus:


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.

Contacts for Student Questions

Undergraduates: Undergraduates with questions should email keeplearning@duke.edu

Graduate & Professional Students: If you have received this message and don’t plan to be in Durham for the spring semester, please contact your program (see list of names/emails below) and ask to be removed from the baseline 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 Teamtesting@fuqua.duke.edu
SanfordLinda Lytvinenkolinda.lytvinenko@duke.edu
LawSuze Bearbear@law.duke.edu
PrattShundrell Spannshundrell.spann@duke.edu
NSOENancy Kellynkelly@duke.edu
DivinityCathy Watsoncwatson@div.duke.edu
SONBebe Millsbebe.mills@duke.edu
SOMKaren Tesorierokaren.tesoriero@duke.edu
SOM – Basic Science MS
and PhD students
Beth SullivanOBGE@duke.edu
The Graduate School – does not include Basic Science MS and PhD studentsHelene McAdamsgrad-surveillance-testing@duke.edu

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 a baseline test will immediately start getting called for surveillance tests in order to catch possible COVID exposure that was not picked up in baseline testing due to timing of exposure. For example: if a student was exposed to a COVID+ person on Jan 11 and took a baseline 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 spring 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.

Yes, as part of The Duke Compact, members of the Duke community 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 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 or employee.

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

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 KeepLearning@duke.edu 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 for Spring Semester 2021

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 baseline 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 participate in baseline testing and surveillance testing this spring. This remains the case even if you do not plan to come to campus this spring. 

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 spring (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 in spring and will begin immediately after baseline 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.

Testing for Symptomatic or Exposed Individuals During the Semester

Any student, faculty, or staff member who becomes symptomatic or is referred by either Employee Health or Student Health will be tested at one of five local testing sites, two of which are located on Duke’s campus.

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. The average time spent in isolation is 14 days.
  • For students in Duke-provided housing, isolated students will be moved to East House, Jarvis, or The Lodge near Duke Hospital.
  • 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.