Duke University is requiring its students to stay-in-place for a week after 180 undergraduates tested positive for COVID-19 in a week and 200 more are quarantined for exposure. The order began at midnight Sunday and will continue to March 21 at 9 a.m. 

“It is important to note that the majority of Duke students, faculty, and staff continue to take seriously the practices that have made it possible for us to be together on campus,” Provost Sally Kornbluth said in an email to faculty. “Unfortunately, though, the actions of those who have disregarded this guidance place others at risk and we must take these steps to protect the health and safety of our community.”

The people “disregarding” university rules are most likely going through fraternity rush. While the university transitioned its formal recruitment to the fall, seven fraternities disaffiliated from the university in February after the school made the call to push it back. The group went on to form Durham IFC, a separate union of fraternities that has no affiliation with Duke—meaning they have none of the protections against legal liabilities that fraternities within the Duke-affiliated IFC have. 

The Durham IFC president informing the Duke Chronicle that in-person events were not permitted during their rush process, the majority of students who tested positive in the recent slew of cases are Greek-affiliated or first-year male students. The new COVID cases also led to an abrupt ending for the men’s basketball team after a member of their personnel tested positive. It’s possible they could still play in the NCAA tournament.

The situation mirrors UNC-Chapel Hill’s fall semester COVID outbreak, where cases were quickly tied to fraternity and sorority recruitment. The neighboring school has implemented similar strategies to Duke for its spring semester, but only had nine positive cases last week and has a positivity rate of less than one percent. It’s almost as if recruitment is directly tied to the number of students exposed to cases.

Undergraduate students living on-campus are confined to their residence halls except for picking up food, going to Campus Health, and getting tested for COVID. Students also have a 9 p.m. curfew, after which they’ll be required to head back to their residence halls. Classes will move online and labs will not be meeting. Off-campus students are told to stay away from campus unless they’re getting food or getting their COVID tests. 

The school expects to have an update about the stay-in-place by Thursday.

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