Emory is first Georgia college to close campus over coronavirus and move classes online

Students have to move out of their Emory dorms by March 22

Tonight, Emory becomes the first college in Georgia to announce it is closing its campus, including dorms, and moving all instruction online for the rest of the semester in response to the coronavirus.

Emory is extending spring break through Sunday, March 22, and then switching all classes to remote learning for graduate and undergraduate classes on Monday, March 23.

All students living in Emory dorms must move out between now and Sunday, March 22 at 5:00 p.m. Residential facilities will remain closed for the spring semester.

The question now is whether Emory’s action will spur other campuses to follow suit. Thus far, other Georgia colleges, including public institutions, have said they are monitoring the situation, but not yet shutting down and going to virtual classes.

Nationally, more than 130 colleges have decided to go with online classes to minimize the risk of spreading the deadly virus, including the entire University of North Carolina System, Duke, Vanderbilt, Harvard,  Princeton and the University of Virginia.

Earlier today, Agnes Scott College spokeswoman Danita Knight said a COVID-19 Task Force there is monitoring the situation and the Decatur school was exploring alternate modes of delivering services and programs in the event that becomes necessary.

Georgia Tech spokeswoman Denise Ward said, “There have been no changes to our class schedules. Our coronavirus task force continues to work in partnership with the University System of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Public Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in making decisions that prioritize community health. Any decisions to alter normal campus operations, should they become necessary, will be communicated promptly.”

In a statement on its website explaining the decsion to adopt a new normal for the campus, Emory Interim Provost Jan Love and Chief Financial Officer Christopher L. Augostini also said:

Students can expect to hear from their faculty about plans for the continuation of their classes.
Faculty should expect to hear from their deans' offices about school and college plans for transitioning to remote learning.
The university is developing contingency plans for students and faculty who might need technical assistance and support during and through the transition to remote learning.

Emory continues the indefinite suspension of all official and previously authorized travel for students, faculty and staff to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. Given the dynamic nature of the outbreak, we strongly recommend that all Emory faculty, students, and staff reconsider domestic and international travel, especially for senior members of the community and individuals at increased risk for severe illness. We anticipate releasing additional guidance related to travel restriction in the next 24-48 hours.

The decision to transition to remote learning, limit events, and offer telecommuting options is consistent with CDC guidelines to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and reflect similar actions from peer institutions. We carefully considered all options to ensure that our entire community can feel safe in these uncertain times. We appreciate your flexibility, patience, and commitment to our community as we navigate the path forward together. While we do not have all of the answers to the very many questions that will naturally follow from our decision to take these measures to protect our community and those in the greater Atlanta region, we pledge to keep you informed as the path forward becomes clear. Please watch for future communications and expect that regular updates will appear on the university's dedicated website: Coronavirus Updates for the Emory Community.