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Emory announces spring semester courses to begin in remote format

Emory President Gregory L. Fenves sent the following message to the Emory University community on Dec. 28.

Dear Emory Community,

I hope you’re celebrating the holidays and getting some needed time to enjoy the break after the fall semester. 

In recent days, communities across the nation have seen significant increases in COVID-19 cases because of the spread of the Omicron variant. The university has been monitoring the latest data and consulting with Emory’s public health experts and epidemiologists to understand the trajectory of the virus. More than 97% of our Emory community members have been vaccinated and all students, faculty, and staff are required to receive a booster dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by January 19, which is the best protection against serious illness and hospitalization. 

While the campus will open as planned on January 4, we know there will be positive cases within our community. Therefore, to continue all aspects of our academic mission, undergraduate, graduate, and professional courses will start the spring semester in a remote format, excluding clinical and research activities, School of Medicine courses, and other select activities. Classes will transition back to in-person learning on January 31, should conditions permit. Most undergraduate courses will be canceled on January 27 and 28 to accommodate students returning to the Atlanta or Oxford campuses. Deans will provide further details about spring semester plans to their respective schools. 

An Emory Forward message this afternoon will have more information about the remote start, new COVID-19 protocols, and what you can expect for the spring semester. Information will also be available on the Emory Forward website. Here is a high-level overview: 

  • Students: More information, including how to document re-entry testing requirements and the upcoming booster requirement deadline, can be found on Emory Forward.

    Residence halls will remain open to begin the spring semester. While residential students are not required to change their move-in plans and may return to campus throughout the remote period, all are encouraged to delay their return to campus, if they are able to do so, to help reduce on-campus density during the surge. Additional campus housing information will soon be communicated directly to residential students.

    Students who return to campus before in-person classes resume should prepare for a reduced on-campus experience with limited activities, few co-curricular events, modified grab-and-go dining, and changes to isolation and quarantine protocols. 

  • Faculty and Staff: Campus will remain open to all employees. Faculty and staff whose duties require them to be on campus should continue working in person and are strongly encouraged to use the screening testing options available at Emory. Units may offer additional flexibility for remote work when operations allow. Employees should consult with their supervisors about their school or unit’s approach to flexible work arrangements. All faculty and staff are encouraged to conduct meetings remotely when able. 

  • Researchers: Research activities will continue as scheduled with the appropriate safety precautions currently in place. 

I understand that beginning the semester with remote learning and teaching is inconvenient, particularly for students and families who have already made travel arrangements, faculty who have planned in-person coursework, and staff who have made countless adjustments to their protocols throughout the past two years. But we must be adaptable during this surge so we can continue our important work—learning, teaching, creating, and discovering—in the face of this ever-evolving pandemic.

As previously mentioned, please review the Emory Forward message later this afternoon. I also hope you will attend a virtual Town Hall on January 6, where I will be joined by Emory Healthcare experts and Amir St. Clair, associate vice president and executive director for COVID-19 response and recovery, to answer questions about the spring semester. Further information about the Town Hall will be shared with the community soon.

With all that we have faced since March 2020, we know that we can effectively teach and learn remotely at Emory. We also know how special the on-campus experience is. That is why we are making this decision now—so that we can carry out the rest of the spring semester on our wonderful campuses in Atlanta and Oxford.

Sincerely,

Gregory L. Fenves
President