Community Public Health Update, March 15

Dear Duke School Families, Faculty, and Staff,

Over the weekend and today we received news of COVID-19 positive diagnoses in the school community.

The teachers and parents of students in the children’s pods in the instances described in this letter have already been notified. If you have not received a communication from me about your child’s pod, no one in your child’s pod has been identified as potential close contacts. This letter is being shared with you to raise awareness, and there is no change in status of school attendance at this time for students or faculty/staff unless you were otherwise notified.

I want to share with you two updates

#1: We learned this morning that a student in Lower School tested positive for COVID-19 today, March 15. The child became symptomatic on March 12. The child’s sibling also became symptomatic and is awaiting test results. Given the timeline for exposure, the siblings’ symptomatic status, and one sibling already testing positive for COVID-19, we have taken the precautionary measure to close both Lower School pods for 10 days. At this time, we have no evidence that these cases are related to any other case previously reported.

#2: A parent of a middle school student reported that they tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday, March 14. The child is being tested today and remains asymptomatic. Given the timeline for exposure, the child’s current asymptomatic status, and students’ ability at this age to adhere to protocols, this situation may be assessed as low-risk, and no one at school has been identified as a potential close contact. Because of this, the student will quarantine, but the student’s pod does not have to quarantine, per our Duke School Return to School Policies 2020-21. We are in contact with the Durham County Public Health Department about these situations and will continue to provide information as necessary.

With the series of notifications over the past week, I want to continue to provide you with an ongoing summary of our status. Including these updates, to date since March 1:

  • 7 children have tested positive: 6 in Lower School and 1 in Middle School.

  • No teacher has tested positive.

Of the 7 positive student tests:

  • One group of 3 siblings

  • Two separate groups of 2 siblings

  • Single child (no siblings)

  • 4 of the children had mild symptoms.

  • 3 of the children remain asymptomatic.

  • There are 4 pods quarantining for 10 days as a precautionary measure to prevent transmission.

We continue to rely on the guidance of public health experts and our CAG, making decisions with everyone’s health and safety as our top priority. As a reminder, we have multiple, overlapping risk mitigation measures in place at Duke School to greatly reduce the likelihood of transmission at school. Any affected pod has been cleaned and sanitized in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Later today, you will receive another communication from me, calling on every member of our community to observe our policies and protocols stringently now and as you make plans for Spring Break. This letter will underscore guidelines for and expectations of our community. It is critical to be vigilant about avoiding potential exposures and to practice mask wearing, social distancing and hand/face hygiene.

Thank you for your continued support. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I appreciate your shared concern and commitment to our community as we work together to promote the health and safety of all.


Lisa Nagel

Head of School

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