Community Public Health Notice

Dear Families, Faculty and Staff of Duke School,

Transmission of COVID-19 among Non-instructional Staff on Campus.

I am writing to report that I was made aware of an additional confirmed case this weekend of COVID-19 in Building K of Duke School, which houses seven business and development employees and is located near Erwin Road, furthest from any academic building of the school. Contact tracing indicates that transmission occurred within that building at some point between Friday, October 30, and Tuesday, November 3.

Additionally, the school offers childcare for faculty/staff children to support our employees during this time. This childcare program was also affected, as one individual is a child of a staff member who tested positive on Sunday, November 8. All parents of children in childcare on October 30 (the last day the child who tested positive attended the childcare program) have been individually contacted. The county health department concluded there was no exposure risk to other students in childcare based on information provided and none of those children have exhibited symptoms.

As noted in last week's communication, none of these persons, based on information provided to the Durham and Orange County Public Health Departments and the school’s Clinical Analyst Group, is considered an exposure risk to persons outside of Building K. This is because none of the persons who tested positive was within six feet of any other person on campus beyond building K for more than a cumulative 15 minutes and because each of the individuals maintained continuous PPE. However, we continue to monitor this situation closely. Out of an abundance of caution, all remaining administrators in Building K and anyone even remotely in contact with the indexed individuals or those testing positive have been advised to get tested. 

Reviewing and Enhancing Protocols and Practices Moving Forward.

Again, all affected employees of the school are home recovering and will remain quarantined off-campus for a total of at least 14 days. Following this period of quarantine, safety protocols and practices in Building K will be reviewed and enhanced, including retraining on PPE, and continued, augmented remote work situations. 

Please Read: Addressing the Time Following Thanksgiving 

This situation offers a learning lesson for us all, speaking to the critical importance of redoubling efforts in protocols moving forward. The final weeks of this year traditionally offer important opportunities for travel, gathering in large groups, and many visits with family and friends. 

This year, the choices each of us makes in the weeks ahead will affect our ability to continue offering on-campus learning and, most important, can impact the health and well-being of our students, teachers, staff and families at Duke School. Every family and employee in our community has signed Duke School’s community commitment. In signing this, you agreed to abide by the precautionary measures outlined both in the commitment and by our state and federal health agencies. I ask that you carefully reread this commitment now. I also ask that you help in these ways:   

  • Flu shots - Every member of every family is strongly encouraged to get the flu shot, this year and every year. Doing so will considerably reduce the risk of becoming ill with influenza.

  • Non-essential travel - The CDC continues to support safer-at-home strategies. Learn more about CDC recommendations regarding travel here.

  • Parties and family gatherings - The CDC has advised to keep holiday plans small, outdoors, distanced, and masked. Click here to see how the CDC categorizes Thanksgiving activities according to risk.

  • Following up - If anyone in your family comes into contact with someone exhibiting COVID symptoms or who may be positive for the virus, do not return to campus or interact with other students/families. Instead, contact both your medical provider and Duke School. Please know that Duke School does not support self-quarantining as a result of extended vacations on the part of families. A determination to have your child  “self-quarantine” for 14 days if your family has not adhered to our Community Commitment, state, and federal guidelines places a tremendous burden on our faculty. Unfortunately, our faculty do not have equal opportunity to simply self-quarantine following the holidays. In addition, multiple students moving from on-campus learning to distance  learning at unscheduled times burdens the program, in general. Of course, if you believe you have been exposed, we certainly ask that you do not return to campus. However, we also ask that you work in the spirit of our commitment and make choices that will serve our entire community during this challenging time for all.

This situation remains fluid. Our current hope is to return to campus for in-person instruction following the Thanksgiving break. Of course, that could change, as we remain committed to following current scientific and medical recommendations when making decisions regarding the health and safety of our students, employees, and families.

Even with our significant risk mitigation measures in place, we must remember that the choices and actions each of us makes may have an impact on our community as a whole. Your support and partnership have paved the way for a successful three months at Duke School, and we are grateful for this. As our faculty and staff continue to bring our mission to life daily, creating outstanding learning experiences for your children, we continue to ask for your help, especially during the weeks ahead. 


Lisa Nagel

Head of School

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