Updated: March 12, 2020
Dear Atlanta University Center Community:
The Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has presented extraordinary global challenges, including for higher education. Indeed, the safety of the Atlanta University Center (AUC) community— including students, faculty, staff, and visitors— remains the highest priority across all AUC institutions. Consequently, we are taking significant and deliberate steps to respond to our current reality while continuing to deliver excellent quality academic instruction.
While each institution has developed policies and has communicated with its respective campus stakeholders regarding COVID-19, we are also engaged in coordinated efforts to safeguard the entire AUC community. An Atlanta University Center Coronavirus Task Force has been established by the presidents of the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC) member institutions— Clark Atlanta University (CAU), Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), Spelman College, (as well as leadership from the Robert W. Woodruff Library, Interdenominational Theological Center, and Morris Brown College)— to collaboratively inform decision making. Given our contiguous physical campus environment, cross-registration, joint events, and shared facilities, the Task Force has been charged with coordinating cross-campus policies, procedures, and collective approaches. Further, this group is comprised of relevant campus functional leaders, medical professionals, and public health professionals from across the AUC and leverages the expertise and resources of each member institution.
After considerable discussion—and informed by available information, data, and best practices—CAU, Morehouse, MSM, and Spelman are taking the proactive step of moving to a virtual academic environment for the remainder of the semester. Upon the recommendation of the Task Force, and with approval by the presidents, AUC institutions are implementing the following preventative measures effective immediately:
Spring Break Extension. Spring Break for CAU, Morehouse, and Spelman has been extended through Sunday, March 22. Spring Break for MSM will run from March 21 – 30 as previously scheduled. During this time, faculty will be finalizing a transition to a virtual course delivery model and classes will no longer be offered on campus.
Virtual Instruction and Instructional Continuity. In-person classes have been suspended through the end of the academic year at CAU, Morehouse, and Spelman. Most classes will instead proceed through an online format beginning on Monday, March 23. (Additional information on accessing online instruction will be provided to students by their faculty members and the academic affairs division of their respective institution.) Morehouse School of Medicine will continue in-person classes for the remainder of month and will move to online distance learning effective March 31, 2020.
Residence Life. We are making significant changes to our residential experiences to encourage “social distancing” – a key preventative measure which limits interactions that would advance the spread of the virus. In some cases, this means asking students to vacate residence halls during the extended Spring Break period and return home for their virtual learning for the balance of the semester. Policies differ by AUC institution, and you should reference the communication from your institution for guidance. Specific information about move out schedules, as well as additional information about ongoing residence hall policies will be provided by the residential life offices and student affairs divisions of each institution.
Events, Meetings, and Travel Cancelations. Consistent with “social distancing,” events have been canceled on AUC campuses through the end of April. We also understand that Commencement and end-of-year activities are a special time for our graduates and their families. While no decision has been made regarding the status of events after April, discussions are ongoing and we will have more information in the coming weeks. AUC institutions are also significantly limiting non-essential travel. Please review institutional communication regarding specific policies related to meetings and travel.
Working from Home. Though in-person classes have been suspended, employees should refer to specific institutional communication for guidance regarding reporting to campus for work.
Students returning to campus to move out should note the following mandatory precautions:
Return from countries with Level 3 health notices. Faculty, staff, and students are prohibited from returning to an AUC campus or facility following travel to countries designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with a Level 3 health notice. (As of today, these countries include China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea). AUC students, faculty, and staff who have recently traveled to, transited through, or are currently visiting a country with a Level 3 health notice must immediately notify their respective student affairs offices (for students) or human resources offices (for faculty and staff) regarding next steps BEFORE returning to campus.
Self-Quarantine and symptomatic Individuals. Faculty, staff, and students who have traveled to a country with a CDC Level 3 health notice are required to self-quarantine away from campus for a minimum of 14 days. In addition, those who have come into contact with an infected person or those who are experiencing symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath, should also self-quarantine. Please notify your student affairs office (students) or human resources department (faculty and staff) if it is determined you must self-quarantine, will miss class or work, or cannot move out.
AUC students only can call 404.756.1299 to discuss their symptoms and concerns and get further instructions. Faculty and staff should contact their health care provider.
You should expect additional communication from your respective institution regarding how this change impacts you. Please continue to refer to their guidance for more specific information regarding travel registration, class attendance, excused absences, telecommuting, housing policies, and other institution-specific policies. These sites also have information regarding prevention methods and valuable links related to COVID-19:
AUC institutions are following social distancing guidance from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Georgia Department of Public Health, and U.S. Department of Education by acting to prevent community spread of COVID-19. By canceling in-person classes, eliminating events, and closing residence halls, we hope to prevent person-to-person transmission of the virus, limit group gatherings, curtail exposure due to close living areas, and reduce risk to community members with higher susceptibility to life-threatening illness associated with the virus. We understand that this action, alone, will not stop the spread of COVID-19, and fully recognize the disruption that this decision may cause. We do, however, believe that moving forward in this direction represents a best course in protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff.
The AUC Coronavirus Task Force is actively monitoring this very fluid situation and will work through the campuses communications channels with any additional updates. Please continue to be informed, alert, and responsible.
Executive Director, Atlanta University Center Consortium
Chair, AUC Coronavirus Task Force
Frequently Asked Questions
Will this move to a virtual academic experience impact my academic progression? Students will be able to meet requirements to complete each class with full academic credit. Faculty members will provide additional details as classes resume the week of March 23rd. Students who successfully complete degree requirements will earn their degrees at the end of the semester as normal.
When will a decision be made about end of year events, including Commencement? We are continuing to monitor the medical and public health recommendations regarding COVID-19. Discussions about large events after April 30th are ongoing. Decisions will be communicated by individual institutions as they are made.
Will this change impact my financial aid? In general, financial aid, including scholarships, and other awards, will not be affected. For more details, please contact your institution’s financial aid office.
What if I do not have the technology to access online classes? Students who need support related to technology and internet access should contact their institution’s student affairs office.
What is the guidance for students who have cross-registered, are in a dual-degree engineering program, or need assistance with career services? Students will be contacted directly by the faculty members or their academic affairs division for class instruction. Virtual services will be provided to dual-degree students and for students who are utilizing career services.
Will there be a way to access the services and materials of the AUC Woodruff Library? Yes, remote access for students and faculty continues to be in place, including CHAT and email reference assistance. In addition, the library is working with the institutions (Morehouse, Spelman, ITC, and CAU) to place a link to services within the online course systems of each school in an effort to make your access easier. The specific hours for physical access to the library building itself is yet to be determined. This information will be shared very soon.
Clark Atlanta University
Dr. Omar Estrada Torres
Dean, Student Services & Campus Life
Primary: 404-880-8040 (o)
Dean Maurice Washington
Senior Student Affairs Officer & Dean
Primary: 470-791-7550 (o)
Dr. Darryl B. Holloman
Vice President for Student Affairs
404-270-5138 (main office phone)
Please refer to institutional communications and website for additional information.
Updated: March 3, 2020
Atlanta University Center member colleges Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine, and Spelman College, along with the Interdenominational Theological Center and Robert Winship Woodruff Library have responded to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID 19) outbreak with expediency, working under guidance from federal, state, city, and higher education public health agencies to develop and implement policies to prevent any possible contraction of the disease by faculty, staff, or students and mitigate spread of the disease should an infected person come into contact with someone studying on, living on, or visiting the campuses. Each institution has acted with urgency and deliberation to educate their respective communities about the disease, provide guidance related to health emergency procedures should the need arise, and share up-to-the moment decisions affecting the schools (including international travel). More information about the policies and guidance issued by each school can be found on their respective websites, or by following the links below:
- Clark Atlanta University COVID-19 Information
- Morehouse College COVID-19 Information
- Morehouse School of Medicine COVID-19 Information
- Spelman College COVID-19 Information
- Interdenominational Theological Center
A collaborative approach is a top priority of the member institutions because of the interconnected nature of academic study and student life across the campuses. In coordination with the presidents of the member institutions, the AUC Coronavirus Task Force has been established to align information sharing, decision making, and policy implementation as they effect the Atlanta University Center. Though each member institution will issue directives and guidance as deemed appropriate by their respective administrative teams, the AUC Conoravirus Task Force will ensure that decisions made by each institution are informed by and taken in concert with those at other member institutions. The task force will also collect and share best practices and monitor developments.
Member institutions and the AUC Coronavirus Task Force are informed by public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Department of Health, and the World Health Organization. Up-to-date information from each agency can be found through their websites, accessible through the links below.
General Information About the Conoravirus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
What is the Conoravirus? Coronaviruses are viruses named for the crown-like spikes on their surface and have been identified since the 1960s. In general, they are fairly common and can cause mild illness, like the common cold. However, new coronavirus diseases can evolve which are not common. This is also referred to as a novel (meaning new) coronavirus. In this case, a new disease was first identified in Wuhan, China in the Hubei Province and named coronavirus 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease.
How is it spread? It is believed that the infections which led to COVID-19 were linked to a live animal market and are now being spread person to person. It seems to spread easily and sustainably in communities with infected individuals, a situation called “community spread.” This means that it can be contracted even if you have not been to an area where infections were previously identified if you come into contact with someone who has and contract the disease from them. Someone who is actively sick with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others.
How do you protect yourself? There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
What if I need to travel? These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.