An outline for returning to campus for fall 2020

June 13, 2020

As a follow-up to the message you received from President Claire Sterk and Incoming President Gregory Fenves, we would like to share our school-specific plans for returning to campus in the fall. The details outlined below have been guided by conversations with the university as well as the RSPH COVID-19 Preparation and Response Team. Visit the University's Emory Forward website for more campus-wide details.



RSPH is prioritizing the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, and the entire Emory community as we return to instruction in the Fall.  This priority guides our return allowing maximum flexibility to participate in our community of learning, research, and training.  Students’ schedules may include a combination of in-person and online courses in order to continue their education and both academic and student life resources will be available in-person and online.  More specifically, our guiding principles are:

  1. Ensure the health and safety of all members of the RSPH community while continuing to fulfill the tripartite mission of the school;
  2. Maintain the highest standards of instructional quality regardless of modalities used for teaching and learning;
  3. Provide flexibility for faculty, staff, and students based on individual concerns and risk, including risk factor tolerance, caregiving responsibilities, health history, and other relevant considerations;
  4. Rapidly respond to illness by providing faculty, staff, and students access to university resources for testing for active SARS-CoV-2 infection and isolation of those who test positive, as well as contact tracing, investigation, testing, and appropriate use of recommended quarantine measures.

Safety and Health

Our number one priority is to protect the health and safety of all members of the RSPH community and visitors.  To that end, we are implementing processes to: a) Decompress the density of the two buildings in order to minimize person-to-person and contact transmission; b) Facilitate physical distancing; c) Require the use of facial coverings in and around buildings at Rollins; d) Reduce contamination of surfaces; and e) Create a culture that supports individual agency to engage in protective behaviors.

To that end, all persons on Emory’s campus are expected to wear facial masks at all times while in any public spaces.  Desks and seating in classrooms will be spaced to maintain six feet distance between students and instructors.  Students and instructors will “wipe in and wipe out” spaces as class begins and ends.  Ample sanitizer and disinfecting wipes will be provided around the RSPH facilities. All present on campus are expected to adhere to our social contract including symptom monitoring, temperature checks, self-isolation or quarantine, physical distancing, wearing facial coverings, and other strategies to reduce transmission. We anticipate students who want or need to be fully online for Fall semester will be able to do so. 

Development of Online Course Delivery

RSPH is committed to delivering a rigorous educational experience to our students. To that end, the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence (CFDE) has released the Emory Flexible Teaching Toolkit, a teaching resource to assist faculty, instructors, and teaching assistants in adapting their courses to online teaching. Additionally, RSPH has also developed a self-paced course, RSPH Online Teaching Essentials, to assist faculty with their course transition.  We ask that all faculty, even those scheduled to teach in-person, plan to prepare a rigorous online version of their course to ensure continuity of teaching should we need to adapt at any point during the fall semester for health and safety reasons. To assist with supporting our faculty and instructors through this transition over the next couple of months, RSPH is hiring additional instructional designers dedicated to RSPH faculty to ensure sufficient support.

Daily Schedule

As indicated in the University announcement, graduate and professional schools have latitude in revising the fall calendar to meet our curricular needs.  To that end, we are currently planning to adjust the Fall semester calendar to start classes on Monday August 17, 2020.  Classes will be held on Labor Day and during the previously scheduled Fall Break (October 10-11).  Fall course meetings will end on November 20, 2020, and we anticipate a remote final exam period between November 30 and December 4, 2020.  Any pre-term classes will take place August 10-14, 2020.

In the spirit of maximum flexibility, all returning students will have the opportunity to re-register for Fall 2020 courses after reviewing the course offerings and delivery method (in-person or online).  There will be some students who will have online and in-person classes, and some students may have online only classes, but it is unlikely that students will only have in-person classes.  We are making every effort for a combination of school and department required courses to be accessible in both in-person and online formats to the extent possible.

As we are working on an adjusted Fall schedule that will provide maximum flexibility to students, students and faculty can anticipate face-to-face class sessions to meet between 8:00am-9:00pm Monday through Thursday and 8:00am-5:00pm EST on Friday.  Online courses will be offered asynchronously and/or synchronously depending on the instructor.  Some synchronous online courses may meet in the late afternoon and evening (5:00pm-10:00pm EST) and possibly during the weekend, but the priority will remain for classes to meet Monday-Friday.  Lectures for all in-person classes will be recorded, so that if a student is ill or must self-isolate, the student may complete the course remotely.

Community Life

Our vibrant community grows and is sustained by not only our work together in courses but also in our time outside of coursework whether in group meetings, student organization activities, and meetings with faculty and colleagues.  Students may anticipate opportunities to engage in academic advising from their faculty mentor and ADAP, career advising from Office of Career Development, and leadership and service through our student groups and school-sponsored opportunities in a safe way.  These meetings may take place virtually or in-person to provide flexibility, so our students can make the best choice for themselves as they prepare for the Fall semester.  We anticipate a combination of in-person and remote opportunities available through the Rollins Earn and Learn Program. 

Next Steps

Rollins School of Public Health will spend the coming weeks finalizing a fall course schedule and will provide this as soon as possible.  You can anticipate hearing from both the School and your Department or program in late June.  Returning students should expect to register for Fall 2020 courses in early July and incoming students should expect to register for courses in mid-July.