Duke University Announces Their Fall 22 Restriction Line-Up
Administrators are not burdened by common sense or evidence based policy
College kids have been vaccinated at high rates. They have also had COVID-19 at high rates. They generally fall in the age range of 18 to 22, and are among the most healthy people in society. Put these facts together and it clear: college kids are fine, and should face no restrictions going forward into a world of endemic COVID-19. They will all eventually get COVID, again and again, as they live a long and full life.
But that is not what Duke University is doing. They just announced their 2022 fall restrictions collection.
Of course, a World Health Organization approved covid vaccine is mandatory. Boosters are merely recommended. No exemption for natural immunity is noted.
While I’m glad they aren’t mandating boosters, neither of these recommendations makes sense. Vaccinated, boosted and unvaccinated people can all test positive, and they can all spread the virus. A prerequisite for vaccination mandates is that there is benefit to third parties. Simply put, that criteria is not met.
A college kid who has not had COVID-19 would certainly benefit from the initial vaccine series, but that is a personal benefit— not a benefit to others. If we mandated medical interventions that offer personal health benefit in order to attend college, Duke could mandate all students get their blood pressure controlled before setting foot on campus. They could also mandate weight loss and a healthy diet. Blood pressure control would be of greater health benefit than compelling a kid who had COVID19 to get vaccinated against it.
Of course masks have not been forgotten. Masks— the type is not specified— are mandatory when community cases are in the CDC’s ‘high category’. It’s odd that Duke is clear to specify a WHO approved COVID vaccine, but plays loose with masks. A thin piece of cloth will do, per my reading of the document.
Of course, cloth masks don’t work, and all masks serve no purpose in a world where we will all inevitably get COVID19. Duke students won’t mask at frat houses, or bars, or on vacation, and soon nearly all will have breakthrough, if not already. What is the point?
Duke advises all students to get a PCR COVID19 test before returning to campus, preferably within 72 hours of returning. Wow! A single test before you return to campus! That will definitely stop COVID in its tracks! Instead, it is just another pointless hoop to jump through.
Ultimately, it is strange that institutions of higher education have not articulated the goal of their own policies. Is the goal that college kids get COVID mostly off campus? Is the goal to have frequent disruptions to class when students inevitably get COVID, again and again, in the years to come? Or do they think COVID can be avoided forever— in which case more than the students need an education.
Next, why have they made no effort to figure out which of these policies actually slows sars-cov-2, and which are costly, annoying theater? Colleges could be randomized to test within 72 hours or not, and followed for covid spread. Better still: colleges could test a policy of testing or masking (Duke rules), vs a simpler policy of advising students to take it easy when they feel sick, and come to class when they feel better. I strongly suspect the latter policy would improve quality of life, days in lecture, with no increase in bad outcomes (very sick college kids, staff or faculty).
Ultimately, universities are proving that they are not accountable to science or evidence; instead, they continue to cater to the irrational preferences of some parents, students and donors. How many more years they choose to participate in this foolishness is beyond me. I will be back to review their Spring 2023 collection.