Atlanta seminary leases iPads for virtual fall semester

As a mother, a Fulton County high school teacher, and a staff member at Sankofa United Church of Christ, Connie Moran does everything she can to avoid exposure to COIVD-19.

"I have family members who are at a greater risk for contracting COVID-19, so I don't want to take any chances," Moran told FOX 5's Portia Bruner.

Since Moran is also a seminary student, she was grateful to hear the Interdenominational Theological Center will hold the entire fall semester on a virtual platform.

"I was thrilled because this means I get to pursue my studies in congregational leadership so that I can continue to serve my church. We only have virtual services at Sankofa, so I'm glad I can have virtual school as well," said Moran, who is an executive minister at Sankofa UCC.

Moran is one of the 300 students who, along with faculty members, will receive a leased iPad from Apple that's loaded with apps and other programs to foster a virtual, but comprehensive school environment when school resumes on August 24.

"So, all of us being on the same platform will let us talk the same language and if we're talking the same language, we can be more of a community. I took a class over the Summer and felt like I had not distanced myself away from the class, but was not putting myself at risk either," said Moran.

The risk of exposure to COVID-19 is what prompted ITC president, Dr. Matthew Williams, to close the campus at the Atlanta University Center in March and extend virtual learning throughout the rest of 2020.

"With there not being an antiviral available and there not being a vaccine available within the coming year and when you see how wildly contagious the virus is, there was no way to ensure the health and protection of our people," said Dr. Williams. "The bottom line for us is we don't have to choose between the health of our people and providing quality access to theological education," he said.

Dr. Williams said he, fellow administrators and accrediting officials will draft plans for the Spring semester after assessing the spread of COVID-19 over the next few months. "I think people need to understand there is no 'going back to normal,'" Dr. Williams told Bruner.