Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, Spelman plan limited return to campus for spring semester

Benjamin G, Brawley Hall at Morehouse College

Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College shared their plans Monday to begin limited in-person classes and a move back to campus for 2021's spring semester.

Atlanta University Center officials say that the three colleges will adjust their academic calendars to anticipate a spike in national COVID-19 cases in the fall - starting the spring semester on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021.

"After a fall semester of virtual instruction, each institution would ideally prefer to return all students to campus. However, by reducing the number of students on their campuses, CAU, Morehouse, and Spelman are best able to implement rigorous health and safety protocols designed to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus," officials said. 

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The calendar change eliminates spring break for students, but there will be a smaller mid-point break from March 31 to April 2. The semester will end on Friday, May 7.

At Morehouse College, up to 1,200 freshmen and upperclassmen as well as a limited number of faculty and staff members will be allowed on campus for the spring semester. 

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"Morehouse will offer a hybrid academic program with a limited selection of in-person classes and a full spectrum of asynchronous online courses," Morehouse President David A. Thomas said. "I know I can count on the men of Morehouse and our faculty and staff to adapt to the resulting demands on teaching and learning.” 

Clark Atlanta University will allow first-time freshmen, new transfers, seniors graduating in May of 2021, and designated athletes to return to campus. All other students will continue to learn virtually. 

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Spelman will limit the school's operating capacity to around 30 percent of students and staff and will allow  350 students back into its residence halls. Officials will be giving first-year students, seniors, and some student leaders first priority for residing on campus. 

Our plans are based on Spelman’s ability to monitor several health metrics, our faith that our community will adhere to health and safety protocols, and the knowledge that we may need to pivot back to remote learning if the data continues to worsen,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. 

At each school, students, faculty, and staff members will be tested for COVID-19 before arriving and during the semester at least once a week. The schools will also mandate masks at all times in public spaces and encourage social distancing.

Morehouse School of Medicine will have a separate schedule and educate through a combination of in-person and hybrid instruction. 

The universities' plan may change before the schedule starts depending on updated public health information.

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