May 5: Update on Return to the Workplace Plans

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to provide you with a brief update regarding the planning process for Duke University’s Return to the Workplace efforts. These efforts are being carefully controlled and coordinated to ensure personal safety and mitigate potential risks of spreading COVID-19.

Team 2021, the strategy team convened by President Price to assess options and recommendations for the next academic year, continues to meet several times per week. While decisions about the fall semester will likely not be made until late June, the team is also coordinating more immediate plans to initiate the reopening of certain offices and facilities on campus.   These areas will initially include clinical services in Duke Health and research laboratories. 

While the stay-at-home orders for the state of North Carolina and Durham County’s are expected to expire on May 8 and May 15 respectively, please note we expect the majority of the University’s workforce to continue to work remotely until further notice.   

No unit or department should increase on-site staffing beyond current levels until further notice and only employees who have been specifically designated and informed by their supervisors should make preparations to return to their offices after May 15.

The University has formed a Return to the Workplace group made up of representatives designated by each dean and vice president. This group will be coordinating the process, schedule and approvals needed to ramp up activity in Duke facilities.  They will also work with their respective school, department and administrative unites to ensure appropriate social distancing practices, coordinate building controls and access, and distribute appropriate PPE and other safety resources. 

A video Q&A and a comprehensive Guide for the Return to the Workplace will be made available to all employees later this week to provide more detail on policies, practices and expectations that will need to be observed as we continue the process of restoring activity to the Duke campus and our off-campus facilities.   

We want to extend a special thanks to the thousands of front-line Duke Health staff who have continued to deliver exceptional patient care during this public health crisis, and the hundreds of University staff who are supporting the students who currently remain on campus, maintaining critical laboratories, utilities, and facilities, and providing essential operational support services to the entire Duke community. We are also deeply grateful to the countless others who are working remotely to advance our missions in new and innovative ways. 


Kyle Cavanaugh, Vice President, Administration, Co-chair Team 2021
Jennifer Francis, Executive Vice Provost, Co-chair Team 2021