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Emory to start spring semester virtually, New Year’s Eve Peach Drop cancelled

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Emory to start spring semester virtually, New Year’s Eve Peach Drop cancelled

Main Quad on Emory University's primary Druid Hills Campus. Photo obtained via Wikimedia Commons

Atlanta, GA — Emory University will begin the spring semester virtually and plans to transition back to in-person learning on Jan. 31, 2022, Emory President Gregory Fenves announced on Tuesday.

In other COVID-19 news, Atlanta’s annual Peach Drop has been cancelled for the third year in a row due to COVID-19 concerns, according to announcements from the mayor’s office and reporting by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Fenves said the certainty that there will be COVID-19 cases in the Emory community was the impetus for the decision to start the spring semester with virtual learning.

“While the campus will open as planned on Jan. 4, we know there will be positive cases within our community. Therefore, to continue all aspects of our academic mission, undergraduate, graduate, and professional courses will start the spring semester in a remote format, excluding clinical and research activities, School of Medicine courses, and other select activities,” Fenves said.

Residence halls on campus will remain open at the beginning of the semester. Students will not be required to change their move-in plans and will be allowed to return to campus housing throughout the remote period, the university encourages all residential students to delay their return to camps, if they are able, to help reduce the on-campus density during the COVID-19 surge.

Those who return to campus before in-person classes resume should be prepared for a reduced on-campus experience with limited activities, few co-curricular events, modified dining options and changes to the isolation and quarantine protocols.

The campus will remain open to all university employees. Faculty and staff whose duties require them to be on campus should continue working in person. They are strongly encouraged to use the screening testing options available at Emory. Research activities will continue as scheduled with the appropriate safety precautions in place, according to the announcement.

“I understand that beginning the semester with remote learning and teaching is inconvenient, particularly for students and families who have already made travel arrangements, faculty who have planned in-person coursework, and staff who have made countless adjustments to their protocols throughout the past two years,” Fenves said. “But we must be adaptable during this surge, so we can continue our important work—learning, teaching, creating, and discovering—in the face of this ever-evolving pandemic.”

Fenves will hold a virtual town hall on Jan. 6, 2022, where he will be joined by Emory Healthcare experts and Amir St. Clair, associate vice president and executive director for COVID-19 response and recovery, to answer questions about the spring semester.

“With all that we have faced since March 2020, we know that we can effectively teach and learn remotely at Emory. We also know how special the on-campus experience is,” Fenves said. “That is why we are making this decision now—so that we can carry out the rest of the spring semester on our wonderful campuses in Atlanta and Oxford.”

— Emory University isn’t the only entity adjusting plans due to COVID-19. The city of Atlanta has cancelled the New Year’s Eve Peach Drop as positive cases of COVID-19 surge and based on the advice from public health officials.

“In consultation with public health officials, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel the Peach Drop,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said. “As positive COVID-19 cases rise, I encourage everyone to be safe, get vaccinated and follow CDC guidelines.”

According to the CDC, Fulton and DeKalb counties remain areas of high transmission for the COVID-19 virus. In Fulton County, the two-week average number of cases per 100,000 people is 1,469 and the positivity rate is 25% as of Dec. 29. In DeKalb County, the two-week average number of cases per 100,000 people is 1,004 and the positivity rate is 23.6% as of Dec. 29.

Based on the latest data and recommendations from health professionals, Atlanta has moved to the red zone, and last week the mayor reinstated the indoor mask mandate.

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