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About 6,000 students at Duke ordered to remain in their residence halls for a week following a COVID-19 outbreak linked to frat parties

Duke university
FILE: general view of the Duke University Chapel on the campus of Duke University.

Undergraduate students living on Duke University's campus were told to stay put in their dorm.
The "stay-in-place" order is in effect from March 14 to March 21, university officials said.
The restriction comes following more than 180 positive cases reportedly linked to frat parties.
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All Duke University undergraduate students living on the campus in residence halls or on-campus apartments were told late Saturday to remain in their residences for the next seven days following a COVID-19 outbreak at the school.

"Over the past several days, we have continued to see a steady rise in the number of undergraduate students testing positive for COVID-19, principally as a result of recent off-campus fraternity-related events," the letter to students, singed by several university officials, read.

"In an effort to mitigate any additional spread of the virus effective immediately we are now directing all undergraduate students to stay-in-place until Sunday, March 21," it continued.

The order applies to the approximately 6,000 students currently residing on campus, a Duke spokesperson told Insider.

According to officials, more than 180 students were recently required to isolate following a positive COVID-19 test, and 200 students were in quarantine following the university's contact-tracing efforts.

According to the Raleigh News Observer, Duke officials had warned students earlier in the week that restrictions were possible due to fraternity rush parties that it said caused the current spike in cases.

"This is by far the largest one-week number of positive tests and quarantines since the start of the pandemic," officials said in the Saturday letter.

Students living in on-campus apartments or dorms are allowed to leave their residences only "for essential activities related to food, health, or safety," according to the letter. Students in groups no larger than three are allowed to leave their residences for outdoor activities that do "not increase the potential spread" of COVID-19.

The letter instructed the facility to switch to virtual learning beginning this week. It said the order did not apply to "graduate and professional students" because officials had seen "little increase in COVID transmission spread among this population."

The move comes one year after universities and colleges across the US, including Duke, suspended in-person classes and sent students home as the virus began to spread across the US. More than 530,000 COVID-19 cases have been reported at US college campuses since the beginning of the pandemic, according to an analysis from The New York Times.

"This stay-in-place period is strongly recommended by our medical experts. The restriction of student movement-coupled with a renewed dedication to following social distancing, masking, symptom monitoring and other public health guidelines-gives us the best path toward curtailing further," the letter to students read.

Officials warned students that repeated violation of the order could lead to "suspension or withdrawal from Duke."

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