Although the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise on campus, Duke’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions has eased its policies for student visitors for the spring.
Last fall, the admissions office reinstated in-person tours for the first time in March 2020. Visitors are strongly encouraged to wear a mask for the duration of the tours, which have been limited to outdoor areas, and only high school seniors can attend.
This semester, the admissions office has opened rounds for all prospective students. Visitors are now required to remain masked for the duration of the tour and tour guides are encouraged not to remove their masks, even when they are socially distancing during a layover.
Tour guide Sophomore Aaron Price said, “Every month there is a difference [masking] policy, which was a bit confusing to follow.” But he added that the admissions office had “done a good job” in supporting his tour guides.
Susan Simonet, associate director of undergraduate admissions, said visitors have been very compliant despite the policy change. “When people come to visit admissions offices, they are generally on their best behaviors,” she said.
As an added precaution, the admissions office is contracting with Rhino Entertainment, the same company used by Duke basketball, to deploy an employee at the office to remind visitors to comply with mask requirements. Tour guides were also given permission to end tours if an individual refused to wear a mask.
Most of the tour guides are “very excited to be taking tours again,” Senior Tour Guide Ramya Gingupalli, Chief Operations Officer for the tour guide programme, said.
After experiencing tours before COVID-19 and now under current conditions, Ginjupalli noted that the size of the tour group is changing the dynamic. It used to offer tours for 50+ people, but now, groups are around 10 to 15 people.
Total enrollment for each directed visit to the campus is now limited to 40 students with one guest each. This group of 80 visitors or less is then broken down into smaller groups for campus tours.
Ginjupalli sees the only downside to the current tour format is that prospective students “have less sense of how to really Duke because we don’t go into the buildings.”
The Office of Admissions publishes many virtual resources, including YouTube videos, virtual tours, and online information leaflets. “There is an important part of the stock, where these virtual events make Duke more accessible,” Price noted.
Semonite echoed these sentiments, noting the increase in attendance and stating that “the admissions office is really happy with this [information] sessions. ”
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The Blue Devil Days of Duke’s early decision for the 2026 class is a hypothetical event that began in late January and will end in mid-February. According to Semonite, the admissions office hopes to bring accepted students to campus as soon as COVID-19 conditions allow.