Emory University in Atlanta will begin its spring semester online amid rising COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, announced the university's president Dr. Gregory L. Fenves in a letter to the community. Residence halls will open as planned, but all undergraduate, graduate and professional courses will begin remotely, excluding clinical and research activities, School of Medicine courses.
While more than 97% of Emory's community has been vaccinated and while "the campus will open as planned on January 4, we know there will be positive cases within our community," wrote Fenves in the letter, which added that all students, faculty and staff are also required to receive a booster dose by Jan. 19.
According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), Georgia's positive test rate for COVID-19 cases has more than quadrupled from 5% in mid-December to 23% on Monday, with the Omicron variant "hitting metro Atlanta particularly hard."
But with COVID cases rising across the nation, Emory isn't the only school to make the last-minute decision to move online, Harvard University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Stanford and several University of California campuses have recently made similar moves, notes AJC.
"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," said Fenves. "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."