Returning to School This Week

Updated: Nov 30, 2020

Dear Duke School Community,

I hope this note finds you well as we prepare to return to school this week. I am grateful for the exceptional efforts of our faculty/staff and the willingness of so many families to change plans and make sacrifices for our collective health and safety over the past week. Following a careful and deliberate path has resulted in the rare opportunity for our students to participate consistently and continuously in learning during this difficult year.

As we prepare to return to school, I ask you to closely examine the decisions you made, as they will have impact on the safety of those in our community as well as our ability to continue in-person learning. Today, carefully reread the Duke School Community Commitment that you signed, acknowledging responsibilities and agreeing that, as a family, your entire household would comply with the recommended best practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, both at school and at home.

Even with risk mitigation strategies in place on campus, I can assure you that your decisions over the past ten days will indeed impact the safety of those in our community as well as our ability to continue in-person learning. To that end, prior to having your child return to school, can you answer in the affirmative to all of the following?

  • We limited our indoor gatherings to ten people. (Ten is the current legal limit for indoor gatherings in North Carolina.)

  • We reduced the number of households represented at any gathering. (Each household is part of its own bubble, and therefore introduces several new layers of risk.)

  • We avoided large group events where close contact occurred (15 minutes or greater at less than six feet).

  • We adhered to CDC travel guidelines.

  • We avoided amusement parks, fairs, concerts, etc., where consistent distancing could not be maintained.

If you cannot answer in the affirmative, I ask that you do not return to campus or interact with other students/families this week.

In my letter of November 10, I shared that Duke School cannot support self-quarantining as a result of extended vacations and lack of adherence to the Community Commitment due to the undue burden it places on faculty and disruption of both learning models, with students moving in and out for the week. For these reasons, if your child(ren) must remain home this week, contact your division director, who will organize asynchronous work for this time period.

The choices and actions each of us makes may have an impact on our community as a whole. We all recognize the fatigue caused by the persistence of this crisis. At the same time, this calls for us to exercise considerable discipline and resolve. Please take time with your child today to review and emphasize the critical practices that are allowing us to provide daily programming: social distancing of six feet or more, masking at all times except for teacher designated breaks, and frequent handwashing.

Our situation remains fluid. If at any point we receive policy or medical recommendations including further direction from our Board or Clinical Advisory Group, we may change our course for on-campus learning to protect the health and safety of our employees, students, and families.

I remain grateful to and astounded by the Duke School faculty and staff for the ways in which they continue to create outstanding learning experiences daily for your children through both learning models. I ask for your help, especially during the weeks ahead, as our entire Duke School community rallies together to bring our mission to life in the most meaningful ways, even in these extraordinary times.


Lisa Nagel

Head of School

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