Last updated September 16, 2022 

These frequently asked questions address the Fall 2022 semester. We will update this page as new questions come in. If you have questions that are not answered here, please contact us at

Note: Many answers draw from the August 19, 2021 video, Fall Semester COVID Safety | A conversation with Sally Kornbluth and Mary Klotman.

Topics Covered On This Page:

COVID-19 Precautions & Policies

Yes. As of December 20, 2021, Duke University, Duke University Health System and the Private Diagnostic Clinic will require all students and employees to provide proof of receiving the COVID-19 booster shot in January or as soon as they are eligible under CDC and state guidelines. All faculty and staff members, regardless of work location, must receive and show documentation of their completed COVID-19 vaccination by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, or within 28 days of their eligibility under CDC and state guidelines. See the December 29 announcement for more information.

If you have already received your booster shot from a provider outside of Duke, you can submit the documentation to VaxTrax to update your records.
Duke has been focused on managing the spread of COVID and protecting the health and safety of our community throughout the pandemic. This effort has been guided by science and based on the recommendations of our faculty experts in infectious disease, environmental health, biology and many other disciplines and now includes several key components:


All students must be vaccinated before they can start classes; a small number (<1%) have received approved medical or religious exemptions and will be subject to more frequent testing and other restrictions. All university staff and faculty must submit proof of vaccination or have an approved medical or religious exemption; those who are not vaccinated will be required to have regular testing and other restrictions. All Duke Health employees must be vaccinated as a condition of employment.

As of August 29, 2021 "All faculty and staff members, regardless of work location, must receive and show documentation of their completed COVID-19 vaccination by 10 a.m. on Oct. 1, 2021. This requirement is consistent with the policy already communicated by the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and Duke University Health System." (Retrieved August 30 - "Covid-19 Vaccination a Condition of University Employment")

Booster Shots

On Monday, August 23, Duke Employee Occupational Health & Wellness will begin administering a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals who meet the criteria established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals.

As of December 20, 2021, all students and employees must provide proof of receiving the COVID-19 booster shot in January or as soon as they are eligible under CDC and state guidelines. See the December 20 announcement for more information.

For more info, visit Duke's Coronavirus website.


As of September 22, masks are no longer required in classrooms, but are still required on Duke buses and vans and in all clinical settings.

For additional information:

We monitor many sources of information including world-national-regional developments, CDC announcements, data, trends, new research, peer experiences, etc. There is no strict or simple formula for knowing when it is best to move from in-person instruction to remote instruction. Certainly, evidence of high transmission is important, as is the source of that transmission. To date, we have seen no evidence of classroom or laboratory transmission involving individuals who are masked. Should we determine that a pivot to remote instruction might be needed, we will do our best to convey this information as soon as possible -- as well as reinforcing behaviors that could forestall such a shift.

All Duke University students, faculty and staff must submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination or have an approved medical or religious exemption by the beginning of the 2021 fall semester. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks and participate in regular surveillance testing until further notice. (Retrieved August 2021 - from “Duke COVID Vaccine”)


As of August 29, "All faculty and staff members, regardless of work location, must receive and show documentation of their completed COVID-19 vaccination by 10 a.m. on Oct. 1, 2021. This requirement is consistent with the policy already communicated by the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and Duke University Health System." (Retrieved August 30 - "Covid-19 Vaccination a Condition of University Employment")

The data from our surveillance testing program are constantly fed into a model to predict both levels of infection and likely infection sources. This faculty-led work has been ongoing for more than a year and was instrumental in leading us to test even vaccinated individuals, which many of our peers were/are not doing. 

We keep a close eye on where transmissions occur when we have positive cases and we sequence the viral RNA for all positive test samples to monitor for the emergence of possible new viral variants. We measure and track a number of factors around the clock, including number of cases, mode of transmission, severity of illness, and our isolation capacity. We are also in close contact with peer and regional schools to learn from what they are experiencing, including schools that have had students on campus through the Delta surge this summer.

Duke University’s approach to masking in classrooms will be tied to the CDC community level category. When the community risk has been reduced to medium or low for two consecutive weeks, masking will no longer be required in classrooms. On Thursday, Sept. 22, Durham will have been below the high-risk category (as determined by the CDC) for two consecutive weeks, so beginning that day masking will become optional in classrooms.
We recommend that anyone experiencing cold-like respiratory symptoms, even after a negative COVID test, continue to wear a mask indoors until symptoms resolve. Unvaccinated individuals, who are at increased risk for severe illness, are encouraged but will no longer be required to wear masks indoors beginning next Thursday. Please note that any individuals who feel more comfortable continuing to mask should do so and all members of the community should respect the rights of those who wish to remain masked.
Faculty members may request that students continue to wear masks in their classrooms if they wish to do so. In such cases, faculty should clearly communicate those expectations to the class. Masking helps protect the masked individual, even in the presence of those who are unmasked, so those with concerns – faculty or students – should continue to wear a well-fitted mask in class.
Student who have tested positive or have COVID symptoms should not attend class until they have tested negative or been cleared by Student Health to return. Faculty will work with students to navigate any missed classes.
Masks will continue to be required on Duke buses and vans and in all clinical settings until further notice.
Faculty can contact Tony Galiani from disability management for individual and group requests.

Tony Galiani
Program Director, ADA Facilities
Duke University Disability Management System
705 Broad Street
Durham, NC  27708

Vaccination information is being gathered and managed by Student Health for all students (undergraduate, graduate, professional, inter-institutional). Like any health record, this information is confidential and will not be shared with individuals, including individual faculty or program/center directors. Aggregate information about the vaccination status of students and faculty/staff populations will be shared with the Duke Community. Neither faculty nor staff should request vaccination information from students. A positive test outcome is also a health record. As such, an instructor would not be notified if a student in the class has a positive test result. If as a result of contact tracing, you or a student in the class are determined to be a “close contact,” you will be called by a contact tracer who will describe the appropriate actions for you to take. Briefly, if you are fully vaccinated, surveillance testing will be required. If you are not fully vaccinated, you will be required to quarantine for 10 days.
Any vaccinated faculty or staff member may participate in surveillance testing on a volunteer basis. Testing is available without an appointment at a number of convenient campus locations. Please download the SymMon app and see instructions for testing at
You can find the latest guidance and updates at Those guidelines are likely to evolve this year and updates are being posted to
All students, faculty and staff are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. Duke students, faculty, and staff can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost by scheduling an appointment. (Retrieved from Duke's Coronavirus website.) While the booster shot is not a condition of employment for Duke University or Duke University Health System at this time, we encourage all eligible individuals to receive a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to protect you and others from potential infection. For more info, visit Duke's Coronavirus website.
All vaccines on the World Health Organization (WHO) approved list will fulfill Duke’s Proof-of-Covid vaccination requirement. 

Vaccines not on this list will be reviewed on an individual basis, so please be sure to have a picture/copy of your vaccine record that includes your name, the vaccine name, and date of administration.

See to learn more.
Any vaccinated faculty or staff member may participate in surveillance testing on a volunteer basis. Testing is available without an appointment at a number of convenient campus locations. Please download the SymMon app and see instructions for testing at

Double masking is another approach members of the campus community may consider while on campus or in other public places.

Faculty members may also consider alternative methods for holding office hours, such as meeting virtually, or outdoors, and reaching out to their department chairs to discuss alternative methods for holding faculty meetings and other gatherings.

For answers to more questions regarding Duke’s practices and policies regarding COVID-19, please visit the Duke Coronavirus site.

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Teaching FAQs

No, instructors are not expected to offer an online option for their classes. We understand the burden on faculty that teaching both in-person and online imposed last year, and we do not wish to repeat it. Unlike last year, the vast majority of our students have been able to return to Duke this fall.

We would ask -- just as we do in a non-pandemic time -- that you try your best to accommodate the needs of students who may be unwell and unable to attend class. This does not mean that you must provide an online option, as alternative solutions may exist.

We are trying our best to balance the interests of students who attend Duke with the broader interests of the Duke community. Duke is primarily a residential-based learning community, where in-person instruction and interpersonal connections are critical to our research and education missions and to our students’ intellectual trajectories, as well as their health and wellness, both physical and mental.

We also know that, since the pandemic started here in March 2020, we have not had a single case of COVID transmission in the classroom. All transmissions that have occurred have involved unmasked individuals, often eating or socializing together. Since last spring, we have had hundreds of staff members, working through these same challenges every day -- driving buses, cleaning buildings, etc. Again, they have done so with no student-to-staff transmission when all are masked.

We believe therefore that the risk of transmission from in-person instruction involving masked students and masked instructors is very low. That said, instructors who have medical concerns can apply for an ADA exemption to teach remotely. In addition, the Deans have discretion to address exceptional situations that may arise with instructors and home situations that may extend beyond a week or so. For situations where an instructor is facing a short term situation, we would expect them to exercise good judgment in deciding whether they should teach the class remotely. And if the situation requires more time, the instructor should consult with their department chair.

Instructors who need to change their method of delivery from in-person to remote for accommodation purposes should submit a request for an accommodation ( Then, the instructor should ask their departmental scheduler to submit the scheduling request to the Registrar Office, with the department being responsible for ensuring that the accommodation request is approved before submitting the scheduling request. The Registrar Office processes all instruction mode changes submitted to them.
It is at the Dean’s discretion to allow remote teaching if an instructor must be at home for a limited amount of time to care for an ill family member. However, it is unlikely that a full semester exemption would be made only for concerns about transmission, given the data from Duke and our peers regarding the effectiveness of masking in preventing classroom transmission. That said, we understand that there are extreme circumstances and Deans will work with instructors on accommodations in exceptional cases.
Most of the tents from last year remain in place, or will soon be in place. The tents are not powered however, so it is not possible to control their temperature or support equipment that requires electricity, such as screens. OIT has increased the wireless bandwidth to better support outdoor spaces. While it is possible to teach in the tent spaces, we expect they will be used extensively by students for sitting and working between classes, as well as eating.
Inter-institutional students are being treated exactly the same as Duke students: they are required to be vaccinated and must comply with our surveillance testing program in order to attend classes on the Duke campus. Non-Duke students who have registered for a Duke course have been contacted and informed of these requirements.

Model Compliance and Positive Behavior. Make sure that you follow required and recommended health safety measures during interactions at all times on campus.

Gently Enforce Compliance with the Health and Safety Guidelines. If you notice that a student is not complying with health and safety measures, and circumstances allow for a constructive conversation, remind that individual of the guidelines and the reasons behind them. 

Report non-compliance if the issue persists. If you are unable to successfully resolve concerns related to student non-compliance with Duke’s indoor mask requirement, a report can be submitted to the Office of Student Conduct online or via email to

All allegations of student misconduct are subject to The Duke Community Standard: A Guide for Students, Duke’s guide for student conduct, behavior, and expectations. Any student(s) who disregard the local, state, or university COVID-19 expectations may be referred for disciplinary action including, but not limited to removal from on-campus housing, loss of access to campus, or the privilege of attending courses in-person.

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Learning Technologies

This varies from space to space. Some rooms may also have portable Zoom carts made available to help better facilitate connection between remote and in-person students. Faculty should reach out to their regular local/school IT staff person for more details.
All meetings are required to either have a Passcode or Waiting Room enabled to ensure safer, more secure meetings. For more information about Zoom security and privacy, see OIT's webpage on Zoom Meetings: Security and Privacy in Your Meetings.
This Zoom Room Cart User Guide from OIT provides instructions on using the Zoom cart interface, and this guide on Zoom Room Cart / Sakai Integration provides instructions on integrating Sakai with your Zoom Room cart. Please contact your local IT group with specific questions or concerns.  Read about Duke Zoom Cart Basics.

Should you experience a technical failure in the future that affects your ability to conduct your course, here’s what you should do:  

Step 1: Send an email letting your students know that the planned activity (class, office hours, etc.) will not be happening as scheduled. If you cannot access email but use Sakai, post an Announcement for students to see when they next access Sakai.  

Step 2: Explain how the missed content will be made up. Some options include: record a lecture video and post it online, create an activity students can do on their own or in groups, move the content to another scheduled class session, or post a Sakai discussion forum topic on the topic of the class.  

Step 3: Adjust deadlines and due dates. If a technology failure impacts a due date or exam, share the new date. Give students flexibility to make up missed work if the new due date or exam date conflicts with their schedule.  

Make and share your backup plan before anything happens. For instance, tell students that if a synchronous discussion is ever canceled, they should anticipate a text from you or a discussion forum activity posted at a later time.  

Review the Guide to Course Delivery to see your options for delivering course content.  

To receive updates when a Duke-supported service is experiencing issues and when issues are resolved, subscribe to Duke IT Status alerts. For immediate technical assistance contact the OIT Service Desk through the web, email ( or phone: (919) 684-2200.  

To receive updates when Zoom is experiencing issues, subscribe to Zoom Status alerts.  

We understand that you and your students might be using non-Duke supported technologies in your courses. While we recommend using the supported and endorsed tools to keep things simple, secure, accessible and reliable, you might also be faced with a situation that warrants the use of non-Duke tools. Keep in mind that when you use tools that have not been reviewed and supported by Duke you are responsible for:
  1. making sure your students’ data is protected and not shared;
  2. informing your students that they’re using a tool that Duke does not support and has not reviewed for privacy and security (this is especially necessary when a tool produces something public – like a public blog or website, for example)
  3. determining if a tool meets accessibility standards (if you choose to use a tool not supported by Duke, ask the vendor how the tool meets accessibility standards), and
  4. providing technical support for the tool yourself (if the tool or platform doesn’t already provide sufficient support).
For Duke students in China some commonly used tools (e.g., Google Docs, Google Sites, WhatsApp) may not be accessible. Students may be able to work around this problem by using a VPN (or virtual private network); however, this solution may not be straightforward for students.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has created a guide on Lecture Capture and FERPA. They note:

"If access is limited to other students in the class, FERPA does not limit or prevent its use and does not require obtaining a written consent. This allows instructors to create access for students in the class to watch or re-watch past class sessions.

If access will not be limited to students in the class, plan the recordings accordingly. Make sure not to show students who are asking questions and don’t refer to the students by name. Avoid repeating the student’s name in the recording (de-identifying the students removes the need for a specific consent from each student depicted). If a student happens to appear on camera, their identity can be edited out or a written consent can be obtained.

Because student presentations make it more difficult to de-identify the student, the instructor should obtain a FERPA consent from the student making a presentation. For any video projects, such as student-made films, you should obtain a written consent."

If you need to provide your students with consent forms, Duke Scholar Works has models for different situations that may arise in the classroom.

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has created a guide on Lecture Capture and FERPA. They note:

"Under FERPA, this situation must be treated as if the recordings were being shown to a third-party audience which requires FERPA compliance through use of consents or de-identification of any students depicted."

If you need to provide your students with consent forms, Duke Scholar Works has models for different situations that may arise in the classroom.

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Intellectual Property Concerns

The same policies apply on campus and online. The Duke Policy on Intellectual Property Rights in the Faculty Handbook “reaffirms [the university’s] traditional commitment to the personal ownership of intellectual property rights in works of the intellect by their individual creators…” 

The policy states that “recording of lectures may only be done with the permission of the instructor presenting the lecture.” It also limits what students may do with such recordings: “Student recording of lectures, when permitted by the instructor, shall be for private study only. Such recordings shall not be distributed to anyone else without authorization by the instructor whose lecture has been recorded….Unauthorized distribution is a cause for disciplinary action by the Judicial Board.”

Zoom allows class sessions to be recorded. We recommend faculty record class sessions and require it if students will be responsible for content that is presented exclusively in Zoom. If faculty have concerns about recordings they can set them to delete after a certain length of time. Or they can focus their teaching on instructional methods that do not require audiovisual recording.
If instructors use live Zoom sessions they should be recorded and shared with the class later. 
  • Make sure recording is turned on before you begin each session.
  • Remind your students that the session will be recorded and that their classmates will be able to review it. (Zoom will also ask for consent to be recorded.) For more information on protecting student privacy visit the Privacy page on ScholarWorks.
  • Remind students they may not share recordings outside the class, nor should they record sessions without your permission. To do so violates Duke policies. Set guidelines and expectations clearly. 
  • If you schedule a Zoom session in Zoom and record to the cloud the link for the recording is only sent to you as the host. If you schedule the session through Sakai the recording is visible to those with access to the Sakai site.
  • Breakout rooms in Zoom are not recorded without permission of the instructor. 
  • Direct your students to review this section on the Keep Learning website for further information.
Duke respects the privacy of the community and will follow its policies and relevant laws.

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Academic Accommodations and Accessibility

Instructors should continue to comply with academic accommodations authorized by the Student Disability Access Office (SDAO). Students with accommodations should provide instructors with a letter outlining their approved accommodations. If a student has new or updated accommodations for any reason, the SDAO will provide the student with a new letter to give to instructors.
Students should be in touch with the Student Disability Access Office to update accommodations under these circumstances. They can request updates online. More information for students is available at
The specific accommodation for a take-home exam is based on the nature of each student’s disability. Some academic accommodation letters indicate that additional time is not needed. Other letters indicate students should receive extended time in such cases. The Student Disability Access Office (SDAO) staff member listed on a student’s academic accommodation letter can assist with the interpretation and provide guidance on the implementation of a specific accommodation.
Accessibility guidelines for remote instruction are essentially the same as for in-person instruction, and the two main instructional platforms–Sakai and Zoom–are ADA-compliant.  Continue to design documents, presentations, and images according to web accessibility guidelines.  Duke Learning Innovation provides guidelines for creating accessible content in Sakai; think about how you can center accessibility in your course design from the beginning. If you are using a new online tool or app that you have not used in class before, consider whether it is accessible before adopting it. See also: How do I address accessibility concerns?
Yes. Transcriptions of recorded Zoom sessions are helpful for students. However, even the best automatic transcription often contains errors.  We recommend you view and edit the transcript before posting.  If you have a student that requires captioning or a note-taker, SDAO will work with you and the student to ensure their accommodation is met.
Zoom now allows users to enable live transcription and closed captions during the Zoom meeting. Follow  Zoom’s directions before you start your meeting to ensure this feature is enabled. Enabling live transcription and closed captions during your class or meeting will make it more accessible and inclusive.

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Student Support

For more information about the services provided by Duke offices, see their individual websites: Academic Resource Center, the Testing Center, Academic Guides, Academic Advising Center, Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support, Career Center, Duke LIFE, and the Global Education Office Additional resources for students: Latest Information: Mental Health Support:
Students Students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should call Student Health at 919-681-9355. Follow the instructions below for calls made after hours:
  • Choose Option 1 for COVID Hotline related concerns.
  • Choose Option 2 or remain on the line for other health concerns.
  • Medical emergencies should call 9-1-1
Employees Employees experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should call the Duke COVID hotline* (919-385-0429 option 1 for employees) for assessment and COVID-19 testing. You must self-isolate until cleared by Employee Health to return to work. (Retrieved August 2021 - from "COVID-19 Testing”)
If you have concerns about the health or behavior of any student in your classes or with whom you interact, contact DukeReach (, as well as the relevant DUS, DGS, or program director, as appropriate. If you need advice or a sounding board yourself, talk to your faculty adviser, your DGS or another mentors.

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