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Fall 2020 Updates For Parents Of Returning Students

Dear Parents and Family Members

Earlier today, you should have received an email from Emory President Claire Sterkand President-elect Greg Fenves outlining Emory’s plan to return to campus this fall.

Like many of you, we are eager to resume on-campus activities but cognizant that the global pandemic, which altered our spring and summer semesters, deeply affects how we approach the fall. We are being very deliberate in our approach to help us provide the world-class educational experience your child deserves in a safe environment that we all expect.

At the heart of all of our decision-making is our commitment to the safety and well-being of our community. Although many of our faculty, staff, and students will be returning to campus in the fall, we must acknowledge that it will be different than previous years. But together, as a community, we will create a signature academic and campus experience in new and creative ways.

This message providesyou with somekeyinformation that we have communicated to your student. Please note that we don’t yet have all of the answers, but as critical information on topics such as course registration, housing, orientation and move-in becomes available we will update you.

To restate the key points from the University’s message:

  • We will offer both online and in-person classes this fall, allowing us to provide the excellence of an Emory education to all students. Faculty and student preferences for instruction modes will be honored.
  • The academic calendar will shift to start on August 19, with classes ending by Thanksgiving and exams conducted remotely. The final examination period will take place remotely following the Thanksgiving break.
  • Classes will take place on Labor Day (Monday, September 7) and there will be no Fall Break.
  • Residence halls will be open with a standard of no more than two students per room. (This will require that students reselect their housing this summer.)
  • All students returning to campus will be required to go through an onboarding process, including a health screening and testing for COVID-19, and they will be expected to follow public health protocols, including physical distancing and face covers.

Health and Safety
The health and well-being of your student is of paramount importance to us. We do not take lightly the responsibility we have to care for our students while they are on campus. We are grateful to be part of a community with many renowned public health experts who have supported and informed our evidence-based decisions and provided invaluable guidance to us in developing our plan to safely reopen campus.

Physical distancing will be a central pillar of our plan. We will communicate with your student prior to the beginning of the fall semester regarding our expectations for individual responsibility for the health and safety of our community. This semester will require us all to take on this shared effort, and a willingness to act responsibly and compassionately toward each other.

Here are some additional key steps we are implementing for the health and safety of our campus:
  • All members of the Emory community (faculty, staff, and students) who come to campus will be required to self-monitor for signs of COVID-19 daily. Trained University staff will conduct random temperature checks across campus each day. Those with fevers will be required to have a clinical evaluation and to be tested, as appropriate.
  • As necessary, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine measures will be implemented to limit transmission of COVID-19 in our community. Residence Life is planning for space to be available for students who may need to quarantine.
  • All students, staff, faculty, and visitors to campus will be required to wear a face covering while in public spaces
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols will be enacted in all academic buildings, residence halls, and other campus facilities
  • A 35-person cap on the number of students who can enroll in an in-person course to allow for appropriate physical distancing in the classroom setting. There will also be protocols on entering and exiting classroom spaces to avoid overlap with other students, including expanded time between classes.
  • Residence Life will limit the number of students to two in each dorm room to enable appropriate physical distancing.
  • We will limit the size of gatherings, including those held in residence halls, to maintain a healthy environment.

Academic Experience
There are a number of challenges we must address in order to meet our commitment for a superlative, equivalent academic experience for the new reality we will experience this fall. As we explained in our message to your student, this commitment and our focus on health and safety require us to restart the scheduling process for the fall semester. The complexity and level of changes to the schedule necessitate this action

We know many students will choose to be on campus for fall semester, and that some may not for a variety of reasons. We will offer courses in both online and in-person formats in the fall semester. 

Students who are on campus will have the option to enroll in both and should expect to have a mixture of both formats in their schedules. Student should make the decision that is best for them as they continue their academic journey.

Emory College is committed to delivering a superlative academic experience for all students, regardless of which format – in-person or online – they take for a course in the fall semester. Faculty have participated in extensive training this summer to enhance the online class experience.

In mid-July we will be asking your student to register for their fall course schedule, and next week, they will receive more information on how to do so. By July 1, the University Course Atlas will be updated with all of the appropriate information for each course- delivery mode (online or in-person), class meeting pattern and timings, and other information relevant to scheduling.

Advising staff in the Office for Undergraduate Education will be available for student questions and drop-in advising. They may be reached directly at

The Campus Experience
For our students in our residence halls, know that this fall’s experience will be different. Students may be taking online courses from their rooms, community spaces will have new distancing and restricted occupancy expectations, and we will limit the size of gatherings—including those held in residence halls—to maintain a healthy environment.

If your student is planning to reside in the residence halls this fall, please watch for an email from our housing staff that outlines move-in dates and procedures, fee schedules and policies, additional checklists and considerations, and tools to help with the transition back to campus. Additional information on housing and dining will be sent to students by the week of June 22.

In the interim, visit the Campus Life Fall 2020 opening page for more information and bookmark the page to stay abreast of updates. The University’s Emory Forward website will also provide additional information about reopening. You may also email

In closing, we know that this semester will be like no other in our history. While much is changing, the core elements of the Emory experience will remain the same: We will deliver courses that meet Emory’s rigorous standards, taught by our world-renowned faculty. In addition, your student will continue to have access to the tremendous resources of our research university. Lastly, your student will be part of a community that deeply cares about each other, and one we are certain will find new and creative ways to help students flourish.


Enku Gelaye, JD 
Vice President and Dean of Campus Life
Michael A. Elliott, Ph.D.
Dean, Emory College of Arts and Sciences
Charles Howard Candler Professor of English