Operating Condition Status

As of September 18, 2020: The current campus operating status is orange.


Orange Operating Status
  • Gatherings of no more than 10 people
  • Face coverings and physical distancing required
  • Faculty or staff adviser must be present
  • Indoor events 90 minutes maximum

Understanding the Operating Status

As part of Emory University’s responsibility to the health of our community, we will provide accurate, timely, and transparent updates on the presence of COVID-19 within our community.

View the COVID-19 Dashboard

The university actively reviews, in consultation with a panel of public health experts, a variety of quantitative and qualitative data to inform decision-making pertaining to campus activities and operations. The university leadership will inform the community should there be a change to alert levels for on-campus operations and corresponding actions for students, faculty, and staff. These updates may include modifications to in-person instruction or research activities. The conditions and alert levels also impact the size and scope of on-campus events and gatherings.

Read the Gathering Policy

In consultation with public health experts, Emory has identified key indicators to guide decision-making related to campus activity within the context of COVID-19. These indicators include:

  • Manageability of real-time transmission of COVID-19 at Emory and in the surrounding community
  • Rapid diagnostic testing capacity for members of the Emory community with COVID-19 symptoms and identification of their close contacts
  • Robust contact tracing capability
  • Capacity for isolation and quarantine of on-campus students
  • Emory Healthcare and Student Health Services capacity to safely care for patients
  • Availability of the key supplies (like PPE, disinfectants, paper towels, and hand sanitizer) to operate safely
  • The health of staff to maintain university operations

Data reflecting a favorable (fourteen-day) or unfavorable (seven-day) trend for a key indicator will inform a decision to move to a corresponding alert level. Government mandates and guidance by federal, state, or local officials likewise influence our approach and inform density on our campuses. 

The university has been operating under "orange" conditions since the conditions were defined in July 2020.

Color and Description of Alert Levels

GreenHigh density environments are permitted. Once vaccines are widely available and/or highly effective treatments for the coronavirus are approved, prevention practices can be eased. It is likely that even when immune protection is established, that social interactions will remain changed for a duration of time. Green status alone does not mean Emory will automatically shift back to the way it operated pre-COVID operations. It is likely some precautions will remain in place.
Examples of green status operations: Classrooms near full capacity, dining and residential activities with some modifications, liberal use of fitness facilities, sponsored travel permitted.
YellowModerate density environments are permitted, and many protective measures are still actively in place. The underlying threat of outbreak remains, but prevalence of the virus is lower and trending favorably. Capacities for testing, contact tracing, isolation/quarantine housing and/or health care services are robust enough to allow some policies to be relaxed. There may also be treatments for the disease available, which lower the risk of severe outcomes. Easing of facility restrictions and increased access. Strict physical distancing, face covering, and frequent hand washing still enforced.
Examples of yellow status operations: Larger class sizes and gatherings permitted, some sponsored travel permitted, increased density in on-campus housing, fitness facilities open.
OrangeFew people are permitted in classrooms, meeting spaces, residence halls, etc. The prevalence of COVID-19 transmission in the community is elevated or trending unfavorably. There is high demand for testing, contact tracing, isolation/quarantine housing, and/or health care services. Significant prevention policies are in place that limit access to facilities. Strict distancing, face covering, and frequent hand washing enforced.
Examples of orange status operations: Limitations on class sizes and gatherings, to-go dining only, low density for on-campus housing, restrictions on sponsored travel.
RedOnly essential activities permitted. The prevalence of COVID-19 transmission in the community is elevated and unfavorable. Demand for testing, contact tracing, isolation/quarantine housing and/or health care services is projected to exceed capacity. The strictest reduction in density is implemented.
Examples of red status operations: All learning is remote, in-person academic programs are canceled; on campus housing closed with limited exceptions; campus and building access is restricted for essential functions only.

Operating Condition Status FAQs

Below are questions we anticipate members of our community may have questions about the operating conditions. Further questions can be submitted to campusresponse@emory.edu and please note the Emory COVID-19 dashboard and gathering policy conditions are available on the Emory Forward website.

The alert system provides a framework for Emory’s leadership to evaluate and communicate risk while providing a visual communication tool that informs people about the COVID-19 conditions within our community. Risk levels may move up and down depending upon disease transmission and other factors, such as health care services capacity. The various levels correspond to guidelines informing the behavior needed to limit the impact of COVID-19 in our community.

There is no one condition or data point that determines the university’s operating status but rather a combination of multiple, dynamic factors including those outlined on the COVID-19 dashboard.

The university updates the current conditions on our campuses each day on the COVID-19 dashboard, the Emory Forward website, and the operating status and gathering policy pages accordingly. In addition, any change in operating status—whether it is an increase or decrease in alert level—an email will be sent to students, faculty, and staff.

A companion list of guidelines and the approval process for gatherings and events is outlined on the Emory Forward website.