Emory University announced Thursday it will return to in-person learning on Jan. 31. All undergraduate, graduate and professional classes will resume in-person instruction on that date. 

The decision was informed by current public health guidance around the highly transmissible Omicron variant, according to the email announcement from Executive Director of COVID-19 Response and Recovery Amir St. Clair. The guidance indicated that “infection in the community is projected to significantly decline, and conditions are expected to improve by the end of January.” 

Emory is in the orange operating status, with a test positivity rate of 4.07% among students and 4.62% among faculty and staff in the last ten days. Over that period, 280 students and 84 faculty and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

University President Gregory Fenves announced on Dec. 28 that spring semester classes would start remotely and in-person learning would resume on Jan. 31 “should conditions permit.” 

St. Clair also explained differences in COVID-19 isolation and quarantine protocols for the spring semester. He wrote that students living on campus who are diagnosed with COVID-19 but are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms will isolate in their residence halls. Students who are at higher risk or develop more severe symptoms will quarantine at the Emory Conference Center Hotel. 

Additionally, St. Clair announced changes to contact tracing and return to campus protocols for faculty and staff. He wrote that the traditional contact tracing model is ineffective with the high level of transmissivity of the Omicron variant, and the University would instead move to a new self-service process of notifying contacts.