Duke students pleased with softening of COVID restrictions, decreased spread on campus

Duke University will no longer require masks in some indoor spaces on campus.

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Sydney Franklin
, WRAL multiplatform producer
DURHAM, N.C. — Duke University will no longer require masks in some indoor spaces on campus, officials said Thursday.

University officials said, instead, masks will be recommended in semi-public residential places, such as common rooms and laundry rooms. The university told students, faculty and staff in an email around 2 p.m.

To this point, Duke's semester has included many restrictions for masks, vaccinations and plenty of social distancing.

“As a senior, it sucks," said Duke student Sarah Walker. "The college experience has been taken away.”

From Sept. 27 to Oct. 3, Duke reported 26 COVID cases with the positivity rate at 0.12%.

In September, Duke dropped its outdoor mask mandate -- citing a significant decline in coronavirus cases. Although masks aren't required in outdoor settings, university officials still recommend them if someone is with a group of people.

More capacity for indoor dining is also being added to most on-campus locations. Face coverings will still be required in classrooms.

“I feel pretty happy about it," Walker said."We haven’t had one normal year as a college student.”

Finally, the 50-person limit for student organization gatherings and private parties was dropped. But university leaders said groups need to meet with University Center Activities and Events staff to help with event planning and safety protocols.

Duke is asking that fans attending basketball games at Cameron Indoor Stadium provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the game.

"We're able to be in Cameron together and we have to get Coach K one more championship,” said Michael, a Duke student.

Before the start of the fall semester, Duke leaders announced all students and staff were required to received a COVID-19 vaccine. Students were required to show proof of vaccination before enrolling in classes, and employees had until Oct. 1 to prove they had received the vaccine.

Staff were able to apply for a religious or medical exemption, but anyone approved would have to do daily symptom monitoring, weekly testing, wear a mask and follow other COVID-19 safety protocols.

On Sept. 30, a spokeswoman for Duke said 99 percent of its employees were in compliance with the vaccine mandate. Ninety-six percent of employees had received the shot, while 3 percent got a medical or religious exemption.

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