From Michael Schoenfeld, Vice President for Public Affairs & Government Relations and Chief Communications Officer
“This week’s increase in positive COVID-19 test results among Duke undergraduates is a stark reminder that this pandemic is still a very real danger to all of us, and that we need to be unwavering in our commitment to common-sense public health guidance and the requirements of the Duke Compact. We have heard from many students who understand the necessity of the stay-in-place order and are just as eager as we are to fight this upward trend in new cases, which was entirely avoidable.
“While the overall positive test rate among the 6,000 undergraduates and 8,000 graduate and professional students who are on or near the Duke campus this semester remains approximately 1%, we believe it is important to take decisive action to attack the spike in infections over the past week. The new cases were detected thanks to our robust testing protocol in which each student is tested, on average, twice a week.
“This stay-in-place order is the direct result of individual behavior in violation of Duke’s requirements for in-person activity. These new cases are almost all linked to unsanctioned fraternity recruitment events that took place off campus. Those who are found responsible for organizing and hosting these events will be held accountable through the student conduct process.
“It is important to note that the majority of Duke students, faculty and staff continue to take seriously the practices that have made it possible for us to be together on campus. We are grateful for the patience and partnership of all of the members of our community who consistently prioritize the health of the Durham and Duke communities.
“This coming week will be a difficult (and we hope brief) chapter in a uniquely exhausting year and we are deeply concerned about the mental health and wellness of our students. As we get through this stay-in-place period together, we are encouraging all students to utilize the many Duke resources available, from peer-to-peer calls to virtual meals to guided meditations.”