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Duke Campus Placed on Lockdown Due to Spike in COVID-19

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After more than 180 students tested positive for the coronavirus and 200 others were quarantined, Duke University in North Carolina issued a stay-in-place directive for undergraduates, effective March 13 to March 21.

In a letter to students on Saturday, dean of students John Blackshear, vice provost of undergraduate education Gary Bennett, and vice provost of student affairs Mary Pat McMahon, explained the new stay-at-home order, calling it “necessary to contain the rapidly escalating number of COVID cases among Duke undergraduates.”

The recent spike is the result of large groups of undergraduates attending recruitment parties for selective living groups. “This is by far the largest one-week number of positive tests and quarantines since the start of the pandemic,” the school said.

What This Means

On March 10, Duke sent out an email to undergraduate students informing them of the rising number of infections, and outlining the university’s “steps to curtail the transmission.” 

The new directive issued on Saturday shifts all in-person classes online, suspends laboratory activities, and bans students living off-campus from entering the school. Students living on campus must remain in their rooms at all times “except for essential activities.” 

Violations of these orders may lead to suspensions from the university.

Blue Devils Affected

The recent outbreak has also affected Duke’s basketball program. Last week, the Blue Devils had to withdraw from the Atlantic Coast Convention basketball tournament after a team member tested positive, leading them to miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1995.

The school said their latest stay-at-home move has been recommended by medical experts. “The restriction of student movement — coupled with a renewed dedication to following social distancing, masking, symptom monitoring and other public health guidelines — gives us the best path toward curtailing further spread,” the letter said.

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