On April 19, President Fenves announced that Emory University would require all students to be immunized for COVID-19 for fall 2021, with exemptions based on medical conditions or strong personal objections.

Emory has added the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of already required vaccines for students after extensive consultation with public health experts, vaccine scientists, student health leaders and others. For further information regarding the new policy, refer to the Emory Forward vaccine webpage and review the Fall 2021 COVID-19 vaccine requirement frequently asked question.

As always, the University is prepared to adjust plans as we monitor COVID-19 conditions and receive the latest public health guidance. 

Don’t wait for fall. If you have not been vaccinated yet, please do so as soon as possible. Emory stands ready to vaccinate all members of the community. You can schedule your vaccination online.

At present, more than 15,000 Emory University members have received at least one vaccination dose through Emory Healthcare, which includes more than 5,000 students — many of whom became fully vaccinated this past Saturday, April 17, at our Northlake Mall Clinic. We are also aware that many in our community have received their vaccine elsewhere. Let’s keep adding to those encouraging numbers.

If you have already been fully vaccinated and are ready to report your status, Atlanta campus students can do so via the Student Health Services website, and  Oxford College students can do so via the Oxford College patient portal. Thank you for taking this important step — you’re prioritizing not just your own health but the safety and well-being of all of us by getting vaccinated.

Flexibility remains essential as we plan for the fall, but among the anticipated features of the return to campus are in-person instruction with regular class sizes, standard occupancy in the residence halls, normal lab and research operations, and expanded student life activity. Face coverings and testing will continue to be requiredl tools in maintaining a safe and healthy campus.

As this semester winds down following the University’s recent move to a “yellow” operating status on April 5, we see promising signs of progress, including our student-athletes competing on campus, expanded gathering sizes and activities, and our Farmers Market back in operation.

Excitement is building for commencement weekend, scheduled from May 14 to 16, and the celebration of our impressive graduates. Critical to our planning efforts are the extensive safety and infection-prevention measures being taken at the World Congress Center, the site of commencement activities, so that everyone participating can enjoy the celebration and accomplishments in a safe manner.

Event spaces and rooms will be thoroughly disinfected before and between all ceremonies. Timing of the various ceremonies has been deliberately staggered to minimize density and overlapping gatherings, as well as to allow for expanded cleaning. Throughout the three days, high-performance air filtration will take place. Face coverings will be required for all attendees, along with one-way walkways, 12-foot aisles and six feet of spacing between individuals.

I ask and encourage Emory’s students to keep up the strong testing numbers that you have made possible. You have done a remarkable job. Stay on course and continue this important effort. If you need any reminders about how often to get tested, look no further than the recent videos that President Fenves tweeted.

President Fenves also cautions us that there should be no letup in our dedication to hand washing, physical distancing and wearing face coverings. Take a brief break from your end-of-semester studies and tune into these videos. I think you will agree — President Fenves is keeping us on track better than any calendar reminder.

Amir St. Clair is Emory’s associate vice president and executive director of COVID-19 response and recovery.