Duke University issued a directive requiring its undergraduate students to stay at home.
The stay-in-place order, released on Saturday night by the school in Durham, North Carolina, is designed to prevent the transmission of coronavirus throughout campus. The order is effective at midnight.
“This action is necessary to contain the rapidly escalating number of COVID cases among Duke undergraduates, which is principally driven by students attending recruitment parties for selective living groups,” said officials with the university, noting that more than 180 students remained in isolation last week as a result of positive COVID-19 tests.
The new requirements will shift all in-person instruction to remote learning, suspend laboratory activities, close common spaces with few exceptions for essential purposes, and ban students living off-campus from entering campus with limited exceptions, effective at midnight. The university said transgressions will be considered violations of the Duke Compact, which may ultimately result in suspension or withdrawal from Duke.
“If this feels serious, it’s because it is,” the university said. “This stay-in-place period is strongly recommended by our 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.”
Duke said it will continue to monitor the situation and provide an update on Thursday.
The announcement comes just days after the state officially reopened schools. Gov. Roy Cooper signed Senate Bill 220, which requires all K-5 public schools to reopen with minimal social distancing, into law on Friday.
“Getting students back into the classroom safely is a shared priority, and this agreement will move more students to in-person instruction while retaining the ability to respond to local emergencies,” he said.
Even as states are moving to reopen classrooms at the elementary school level, some colleges have been more sluggish to resume in-person activities. After canceling all sports for the fall season, the Ivy League conference, which comprises eight institutions, collectively moved to cancel the spring season as well.
“As campus and community leaders, we believe that our public health responsibilities and educational principles preclude us from sponsoring Ivy League athletics competition this spring,” the Ivy League presidents wrote in a statement. “We regret the many sacrifices that have been required in response to the pandemic, and we appreciate the resilience of our student-athletes, coaches and staff in the face of adversity during this difficult and unusual year.”
The state of North Carolina has had over 880,000 cases of COVID-19 to date, and more than 11,000 deaths have been attributed to the disease, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus tracker.