COVID-19 Community FAQ

updated 1.12.20

Below are common questions we have heard from the community.

When will undergraduate students return to Durham?

Undergraduate students who live on campus will start to return on January 14, residence halls open on January 15. However, we continue to monitor local, state and national conditions including travel advisories, and could make changes as needed.

Remember that most of Duke’s 9,000 graduate and professional students, and their families, call the Durham area home year-round. A small number of undergraduates remained on campus over the break due to travel restrictions or extenuating circumstances.

Duke’s academic calendar is available at the Registrar’s website. That URL is:

Any changes to the academic year will be posted to

Will students be tested upon return?

Yes, all students accessing campus will have entry baseline testing before they are cleared to return to campus. Surveillance testing will continue throughout the semester. The testing tracker is now updated on Tuesdays:

Will students still need to commit to the Duke Compact? 

Yes, and all undergraduate students who are living in Duke housing or taking classes on campus will need to reaffirm their commitment to the Duke Compact before their DukeCard will be reactivated. DukeCards are student’s electronic key and are required for building access and all student services such as dining.

Will student groups such as fraternities/sororities hold membership drives and “rush” events in January as is the tradition? 

Due to COVID-19, first year students will not be allowed to participate in traditional recruitment for fraternity/sorority organizations at Duke. And there will be no in-person recruitment among any selective living groups during the spring semester. All student events must be in compliance with Duke policy. Any in-person recruitment activities will be considered a violation of the Duke Compact. If neighbors are concerned that these types of behaviors are occurring in the community, they are encouraged to submit a report.

Can neighbors still report student behavior to Duke?

Yes. Neighbors are still encouraged to alert Duke to any student behavior that violates our code of conduct or is out of line with state and local requirements at any time, and we appreciate all of the input received during the Fall semester.

Here are the ways to submit a report (please submit as many details as possible):

  • The toll-free phone line is (800) 826-8109 (English and Spanish)
  • The link to the confidential web form is at this website:
  • The email address is

The phone line and web form are confidential and can take reports anonymously.

Were there any outcomes from reports that were submitted during the Fall?

Since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, the Duke Office of Audit Risk and Compliance has been able to track concerns reported regarding student conduct related to the Duke Compact.

Individuals reporting a concern are not required to indicate their affiliation with Duke. Of the concerns reported where affiliation data was captured, 76% were reported by students, 21% by Duke faculty or staff members and 3% by individuals outside of Duke.

More than 700 students went through the conduct process during the Fall semester, resulting in educational interventions or individual sanctions. Additionally, five student organizations were placed on interim suspension.

Updates on the conduct process are sent to students throughout the semester and are posted here:

What are the behavior expectations for students? 

Wherever they are during the break, students are expected to adhere to the Duke Compact and student COVID-19 Policy Plan:

Additionally, the “Community Responsibility” section of the Duke United website outlines the expectations for all members of the Duke community:

The Duke Compact is posted here:

How do we know Duke’s safety protocols are successful?

Over the Fall semester, Duke administered 178,084 tests to faculty/staff and students with 241 positive results. Campus remained open and functioning throughout and there were no incidents of virus transmission resulting from classroom settings.

Read about Duke’s testing, surveillance and contact tracing.

The CDC also cited Duke as a model program for minimizing the spread of COVID-19 on a college campus.

Duke has had a longstanding policy that undergraduate students must live on campus for at least three of their four years at Duke. Has that changed? 

No, the policy has not changed. However, as part of its COVID safety measures, Duke significantly reduced the number of students living in on-campus residences and only invited first- and second-year students to live on campus. For this reason, some students who would have normally lived on campus chose to live in off-campus housing instead.

We anticipate that on-campus residency will return to pre-COVID levels, but only when it is safe to do so.