As coronavirus cases continue to break record highs in the United States, University President Claire Sterk and President-elect Greg Fenves announced via a campus-wide email on Friday that only certain students will live on campus and nearly all classes will move online.
This decision follows reversed plans from other prominent universities like the University of Southern California. Interim Provost Jan Love stated the University began considering the change on July 2, as the Emory Healthcare system has experienced a 150% increase in cases now as compared to April.
When the University released its original plan to hold in-person classes, cases and hospitalizations were trending downward, she said.
“We can’t really control what the people in this region do or what the advice is among governmental officials in this region, so we’re trying to control what we can internal to Emory to keep people safe and healthy while delivering our mission,” Love told the Wheel.
Students invited back will include first-year, international and new transfer students, select seniors finishing Honors work, scholarship recipients whose programs stipulate on-campus housing, and students who were approved to remain on campus in the spring. Only one student will be permitted per room.
Around 50% of College students are expected to return, Love said. The University expects to lose around $80 million, with no expected employee reductions.
Love told the Wheel that asking first-year students to return was especially important because they have the highest likelihood of transferring to another institution. Currently, the University has not seen significant numbers of students taking leaves of absence or deferring admissions, according to Love. While it is typical for a number of first-year students to change their decision about attending the University, called “summer melt,” this number has doubled since last year.
Love stated tuition would remain the same for undergraduate students, which was previously set to increase by 4% for the 2020-21 academic year. The Board of Trustees voted on Thursday to approve this freeze. Tuition for graduate students will also remain the same. Additionally, families can request to reassess their financial aid packages if they have experienced any economic changes due to COVID-19.
Classes will begin on August 19 and conclude after Thanksgiving as planned, with move-in occurring from August 13-17. Students will not have to re-enroll in courses a third time. All in-person courses will move online and meet at their scheduled times, with the exception of a small number of first year classes and advanced laboratory and performance courses.
Intercollegiate athletics will be canceled for the fall semester. The only athletes permitted back on campus are individuals that identify with one of the aforementioned categories. The University Athletic Association (UAA) previously canceled its conference schedule on July 8.
All student led programming, including Greek life, must be held virtually. Off-campus events and travel related to student organizations will be prohibited. Additionally, all students, faculty and staff must complete online modules for health and safety expectations through the Emory Learning Management System.
Correction (7/20/2020 at 4:45 p.m.): A previous version of this article stated that Georgetown University (D.C) had reversed its decision about the fall semester. In fact, it did not.