Emory University School of Medicine/Ayushi Agarwal, Managing Editor

Emory School of Medicine has advised incoming first-year students to move to Atlanta by July 20, the first day of the school’s orientation, so they will be “poised” for in-person instruction when the University deems it safe.

The May 26 email, from Associate Dean of Medical Education and Student Affairs Ira Schwartz, clarified an earlier email sent on May 21 to incoming medical students that stated the school is “planning important in-person activities that will be conducted in reasonably safe learning environments.” The second email stated the four-day orientation, however, would likely be virtual.

Schwartz said while there is no definitive timeline for those in-person events, a medical education cannot be completely virtual. The uncertain nature of the COVID-19 pandemic means that plans will likely change weekly. 

“We know that sometime in the future, medical education will go from virtual to personal,” Schwartz said. “We want to be ready to bring the next generation of doctors to our community and the only way for that to happen is for people to be ready to see patients if and when that is safe.”

According to a May 22 email sent to medical students from Associate Deans of Medical Education Erica Brownfield and J. William Eley, students in the Class of 2022 and 2021 will begin clinical services on June 1. A mandatory clinical re-entry education session will be held for students on May 29, which will include information on how and where to pick up personal protective equipment on campus.

The email also stated that a steering committee composed of hospital epidemiologists is creating health guidelines for reopening the School of Medicine building and will announce the plans by mid-June.

Graduate Student Government Association President Emmakristina Sveen (21B) told the Wheel that there is no “one-size-fits-all” plan for graduate and professional students because the student experience and campus life varies greatly across all schools. She noted that medical students require types of hands-on instruction, such as clinical rotations that cannot be replicated in a virtual environment. 

The University released a plan on May 15 to restart summer research and allow graduate students back into campus facilities by May 31. Whether public health guidelines are followed, and how successfully, will influence further on-campus activities.