March 15 (UPI) — Duke University has placed all undergraduate students under a week-long lockdown order to curb parties that have been spreading the coronavirus.
Administrators at the school said the quarantine went into effect midnight Saturday and will be in place until 9 a.m. March 21.
“This action is necessary to contain the rapidly escalating number of COVID cases among Duke undergraduates, which is principally driven by students attending recruitment parties for selective living groups,” the school said in a statement on Saturday.
The order was made as more than 180 students had tested positive for the virus in the past week, it said, adding 200 others were put in quarantine as possible contacts.
“This is by far the largest one-week number of positive tests and quarantines since the start of the pandemic,” it said, adding an update on the situation will be released on Thursday.
All in-person courses will be held remotely while all students in Duke-provided housing must remain in their residence hall or apartment at all times, except for getting food or medical assistance.
On-campus students may exercise and socialize outdoors in groups no more than three while off-campus students can not return to campus expect in need of medical attention or to participate in testing.
“If this feels serious, it’s because it is,” Duke said. “This stay-in-place period is strongly recommended by our medical experts. The restriction on student movement … gives us the best path toward curtailing further spread.”
Those who repeatedly break the rules may be suspended or withdrawn from the school.
The move by the university was announced days after it pulled its men’s basketball team from the 2021 ACC Tournament last week due to COVID-19 tests returning positive.
“After working with our medical professionals and following Duke and ACC Medical Advisory Group health, safety and contact tracing protocols, the student-athletes on our team are now in quarantine,” he said. “As a result, this will end our 2020-2021 season.”