Duke College mandates Covid vaccines for employees and reinstitutes masks guidelines following outbreak

A general view of Duke University Chapel on the Duke University campus on March 4, 2016.

Lance King | Getty Images

Duke University issued a staff vaccination mandate and mandatory masking across campus on Monday after a Covid-19 outbreak infected nearly 350 students and 15 employees at the start of the fall semester.

The university, which introduced compulsory Covid vaccination for students earlier this year, said 98% of all students are fully vaccinated. Only eight people involved in the outbreak are unvaccinated and the majority are asymptomatic, the statement said.

“We cannot stop COVID-19, but we can adapt to our local and national realities and try to contain the spread of COVID-19 on campus,” the statement said.

The new guidelines, which come into effect immediately, require all Duke teachers and staff to provide proof of vaccination by October 1 in order to maintain their jobs on campus. The university said 92% of Duke’s 22,136 faculties are already vaccinated and Duke will fire any employee who does not comply within a week of the deadline.

Duke will also require masks at all campus locations and stop eating indoors. The university will also limit student activities to minimize the spread of the virus in the community, although it did not elaborate on the restrictions students would face.

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

“We want to make it 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 past 19 months.”

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