Dear Duke School Families, Faculty and Staff,
On Wednesday, I wrote with information that two non-instructional staff members in Building K, housing administrative offices and located furthest from the academic buildings, tested positive for COVID-19. Based on contact tracing reports, the Durham County Health Department has not indicated transmission between the two individuals. However, a third co-worker in the building, displaying a cough and no other symptoms, decided to get tested and subsequently tested positive.
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 students, faculty, or staff outside of Building K. This is because none of the persons who has 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.
While the Durham County Public Health Department does not consider these cases a cluster at this time, consistent with their guidance and the guidance of the Clinical Analyst Group, we have asked all staff members in Building K to quarantine at home for 14 days and to be tested should they become symptomatic. Quarantine is used to keep someone who might have been exposed to COVID-19 away from others. Quarantine helps prevent spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or if they are infected with the virus without feeling symptoms.
Information Sharing and Guidance
I recognize this news is unsettling, but we are very confident that we have and will continue to do all we can to ensure a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff on campus. During this time, members of the school’s Leadership Team and I are in frequent communication with our contacts at the Durham County Public Health Department (DCPHD) and with members of our Clinical Advisory Group (CAG). All members of our staff are providing detailed information to support contact tracing efforts by DCPHD and for our CAG to carefully assess. Because of this, we have been able to respond swiftly.
Health and Safety Protocols in Place
Our health and safety protocols are solidly in place. I commend our faculty, staff, and students for their diligence to date: wearing face masks, reminding one another of proper masking, maintaining physical distancing of six feet at all times, maximizing outdoor times, eating and snacking outdoors when at all possible, refraining from sharing food or eating inside in close spaces, and practicing frequent hand washing and sanitizing of hands and personal work spaces. I am grateful for the expertise and care of our entire maintenance and facilities crews for their tireless work. The school continues to be cleaned throughout the day and a deeper cleaning takes place daily after school.
At the same time, I want to remind everyone that vigilance and consistent adherence to all safety protocols and school policy are critical to our ability to provide an on-campus program. I urge all to closely self-monitor with a disciplined eye and take every precaution in conforming to distancing, masking, and hygiene protocols. In the interests of the health and safety of our entire community, all Duke School students, faculty, and staff must continue to adhere to local orders, as applicable, and follow CDC guidelines and recommendations. I strongly encourage you to review the Duke School Return to School Policies 2020-21.
Please know that Duke School will continue to monitor this situation and will provide additional information as needed. All of us at Duke School remain dedicated to transparent, timely communication. We will continue to do all we can to provide you with information as we keep paramount the health and well-being of every member of our community. Thank you for your on-going cooperation as we work through these challenges.
Head of School