Emory University will return to a yellow operating status on Jan. 31, according to a Tuesday email announcement from Associate Vice President and Executive Director for COVID-19 Response and Recovery Amir St. Clair. Campus operated at a “modified” yellow operating status for almost all of the fall semester. 

The yellow operating condition will help limit COVID-19 disruptions while providing important guidelines for safe community engagement on campus – all while continuing to align with our university objectives,” St. Clair wrote. “At the same time, we all must continue to limit the impact of Omicron by closely following COVID-19 protocols and practicing healthy behaviors.”

Under a yellow operating status, community members are permitted to dine indoors and food is allowed at organized gatherings. While indoor masking is still required, activities and meetings can take place indoors. For indoor gatherings of over 250 people, the University guidelines encourage organizers to serve food and beverages outside and limit tables of people to six seats or less. 

Normal operations will resume in athletic and recreational facilities, and spectators are permitted at sporting events. 

The University reverted to an orange operating status on Dec. 28 following a nationwide surge of the Omicron variant and the announcement of virtual classes through the end of January. In this stage, nonacademic indoor and outdoor gatherings were limited to 25 people or fewer, all nonessential events were postponed, dining reverted to a take-out system and masks were required in all indoor public and common spaces.

On-campus COVID-19 cases have decreased over the past few weeks, with 102 students and 52 faculty and staff tested positive over the last 10 days. As of Jan. 25, 98.2% of students and 97.1% of faculty and staff are vaccinated. These rates do not include booster shots. 

Cases have also decreased by 32% in the metro Atlanta area, although deaths have increased 135% over the last 14 days. Metro Atlanta hospitals report that they are still overwhelmed, needing to direct ambulances to other facilities.