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Fall 2020 Updates For Returning Students

By now you have seen Emory University’s announcement for the Fall 2020 semester.  It’s hard to believe that it was only three months ago that we announced our plans to move to a remote spring semester; we have worked so many problems and questions since that moment. As your dean, I am proud of you and the resolve you showed to make it through a semester none of us ever imagined. I feel confident we will meet the challenges ahead as we make the necessary adjustments for the fall and come together as a community at a time when our world is in upheaval.

During the past several weeks, we have explored a host of possibilities and made difficult decisions. Planning for this fall has involved immense creativity, adaptability, and resolve to provide a great experience for you. We’ve consulted with Emory’s renowned public health experts, who have helped us to understand what we know about COVID-19. Our faculty, your professors, are working hard this summer to prepare exceptional online and in-person courses.

I’ve also been meeting with students and reading the survey results provided by College Council. That feedback has helped me and others to understand what you want, need, and hope for in the return to campus — and to understand that some of you may prefer not to return this fall.  Because of that input, we are prepared to support both those students who return to campus in the fall and those who do not.

Please read this email carefully as it covers important details for how the university’s plan will impact you as an Emory College student and your academic experience, including rescheduling your fall courses. I know that there is a lot of information to absorb here, but it is important.

When most of us return to campus in the fall, we must acknowledge that it will be different than previous years. But together, as a community, we will create the signature academic and campus experience for which Emory is known in new and creative ways. Here’s a personal message from me outlining some of what we can expect when we return this fall, especially around maintaining the health and safety of our community.

See below for important information for how we will implement new processes for fall semester. To restate the key points from the University’s message:

  • The first day of class for the fall semester will be Wednesday, August 19 and classes will end on Tuesday, November 24. Final exams 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.
  • Classes will be offered either in person or online. Some courses will offer sections in both formats.
  • Physical distancing will be required for in-person sessions, with a 35-person in-class cap in the College.
  • Please watch for a survey on Friday, June 12 from Emory University asking for your course and housing preferences. This will provide important data as we finalize planning for fall.

Restart: Rescheduling Your Fall Courses

As we grapple with the COVID-19 world, we have carefully considered how best to deliver a superlative academic experience for all students, regardless of which format – in-person or online -- you take for a course. There are three key challenges that we must address in order to meet our commitment: course delivery, course offerings, and scheduling.

Given the complexity and level of change in course delivery, offerings, and scheduling, we must restart the enrollment process for all Emory College students in the fall semester.

This means that we will be assigning all students new enrollment appointments and restarting registration in July. We will be communicating with you on Monday, June 15with details on when registration will open, and information on academic advising resources.

The Course Atlas will be updated with the new schedule by July 1.

Key Information

  • Courses will be offered either in online or in-person formats. Students who will be on campus can take a mix of both, and should expect to do so in most cases.
  • Current Add/Drop/Swap will end immediately.
  • Your current course schedule will be dropped (excluding any enrollments in courses outside of the College, e.g. Business, Public Health, Laney Graduate School, etc.) onFriday, June 12. A PDF copy of your existing fall schedule will be made available to you in your OPUS Communications tile prior to this schedule drop.
  • All students will restart their Fall 2020 enrollment in July. More details will be communicated to you on Monday, June 15 regarding advising and when you can re-register.
  • Academic Advising will be available for students. More details on advising availability will be provided in the June 15 email.
  • Seniors who have questions about course selection or have graduation related questions, will be able to meet with an academic advisor and we will work to keep you on track for graduation.
  • International students and other students unable to immediately return to campus will be able to take all of their courses online. International students should work closely with their ISSS advisor on any immigration related questions or challenges.
  • We expect the Fall 2020 semester to operate under the regular Emory College grading system regardless of course delivery format. The College will work to provide appropriate academic support to students who become ill or must quarantine during the semester.
  • The Course Atlas will be updated with the new schedule by July 1.

The Academic Experience
Below are more details to the key information outlined above.

Course Delivery: 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. Some courses, especially large ones, may be offered with both online and in-person session options. Other courses will only be online or in-person. Students who are on campus will have the option to enroll in both, and should expect that they will likely have a combination of online and in-person courses.

Course Offerings: The College is committed to offering a full schedule of courses in the fall. Most of the same courses will be offered, although students should expect changes in some of the course available and in how they are offered.

Physical distancing is a key component of our plan. This means that we must work with a new constraint: physical space. There will be changes to currently assigned classrooms and space considerations could factor into the decision to offer a course in-person or online.

Space limitations may also lead faculty to cancel a course because it is not practical to offer the course in person and the educational experience would be compromised in an online environment. Academic departments are planning to offer alternatives where possible.

Course Scheduling: We operate a complex course schedule in a regular semester with various combinations of meeting times and patterns. Under our regular semester schedule, class changeovers are quick to maximize space utilization.

For health and safety reasons, we can’t operate in the same way during the fall semester. To ensure that we can follow our enhanced cleaning protocols and allow physical distancing as classes changeover, we have overhauled our teaching schedule.

The teaching day will be extended, and meeting patterns of classes will be adjusted with a M/W or T/TH meeting schedule for 75 minutes for nearly all courses. There is time on Friday for one- and two-credit hour courses and to provide extended time for languages and other classes that need additional contact.

An FAQ providing more details on course re-registration and other academic questions can be found on the Emory College Forward site.

The Campus Experience
Questions about housing, dining, details on health and safety, and, in general, what to expect for your campus experience are also of high concern. 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 you are 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 meantime, 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 page will also provide additional information about reopening.

One thing is clear: This fall will be different and it will require the active engagement and commitment of our students, faculty, and staff. Our safety and flourishing will take shared effort, and a shared willingness to act responsibly and compassionately toward each other.

We know that you will have questions that we have not addressed in this email. We will provide more information as it becomes available, beginning with the communication you can expect on Monday, June 15. You are welcome to contact my team via email with any immediate questions.

Sincerely yours,

Michael A. Elliott, Ph.D.
Dean, Emory College of Arts and Sciences
Charles Howard Candler Professor of English