Duke University offers professors option to go virtual after rising cases

Coronavirus

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Some Duke University professors have now moved their classes online. The university announced this week that professors had the option to go virtual if they wanted as a result increasing COVID-19 cases.

The university said in an announcement, “Given the absences in some undergraduate classes due to increased number of students in isolation, faculty teaching undergraduate courses have the option to teach remotely for the next two weeks if they would prefer. This is not a requirement but an accommodation to allow for increased flexibility as needed; those who are able to continue teaching in person should certainly do so.”

David Banks, a Duke professor of the practice of statistics took the university up on that offer and went remote for the two courses he teaches.

“If Duke says we have permission to go virtual, that tells me that Duke administration thinks it’s probably a pretty good idea to go virtual. If the administration says coast is clear, COVID cases are down, we need to go back in person, then I’ll be back,” Banks said.

Banks said in all, seven of his students were either infected or exposed to COVID-19. It’s why he made the decision to go virtual for the next two weeks. Banks said while he is vaccinated, he knows the delta variant poses a threat to himself and his students.

In some ways, Banks said lecturing virtually has advantages over lecturing with a mask in person.

“When you’re looking at a Zoom link, I can see if a student is puzzled. I can call on a student easily and get their interaction with them. When everybody is masked, it’s hard to hear what people are saying and it’s difficult to read their expression,” he said.

Other new adjustments to the school year announced by Duke this week are

  • Requiring masks be worn in all indoor and outdoor locations
  • Requiring vaccinations for all faculty and staff
  • Temporarily suspending indoor group seating.
  • New limitations will be placed on student activities

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