Duke University mandates Covid vaccines for staff and reinstitutes mask rules following outbreak

Health, Fitness & Food

A general view of the Duke University Chapel on the Duke University campus on March 4, 2016.
Lance King | Getty Images

Duke University on Monday enacted a vaccine mandate for staff and a mask requirement for the entire campus after a Covid-19 outbreak infected nearly 350 students and 15 employees to start the fall semester.

The university, which instituted a Covid vaccine requirement for students earlier this year, said 98% of all students are fully immunized. Just eight people involved in the outbreak are unvaccinated and a majority are asymptomatic, the statement said.

“We cannot stop COVID-19, but what we can do is adapt to our local and national realities and seek to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus,” the statement said.

The new guidelines, which take effect immediately, require all Duke teachers and staff to submit proof of vaccination by Oct. 1 to maintain their jobs on campus. The university said 92% of Duke’s 22,136 faculty are already vaccinated, and Duke will fire any employee who fails to comply within a week after the deadline.

Duke will also require masks in all locations on campus and pause indoor dining. The university will limit student activities as well to minimize community spread of the virus, though it did not detail the restrictions students would face.

The university added it is letting undergraduate course professors teach remotely for two weeks to allow time for the outbreak to subside. All professors are allowed to keep teaching in-person if they choose, the statement said, adding that Duke has not seen transmission in classrooms where faculty and students remain masked.

“We want to be clear: the problem is not our people, the problem is COVID-19,” the statement said. “Our Duke community has been extraordinarily united and resilient in fighting, and adapting to, this pandemic over the last 19 months.”

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