(Morehouse School of Medicine’s Hybrid Model of In-Person and Remote Learning Remains Unchanged)
The presidents of three Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC) institutions — Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College — today announced a move to virtual instruction for all students during the Fall 2020 semester. Morehouse School of Medicine will move forward with a previously announced hybrid model of in-person and virtual instruction given the institution’s role in healthcare delivery and the training of public health and medical professionals. This difficult but necessary decision is due to the current surge of COVID-19 cases and was made with the guidance of medical experts. Specifically, it responds to current rates of infection, hospitalizations, and deaths in the Atlanta area as well as in many geographies from which our students would need to travel to get to our campuses. Given that the AUCC is comprised of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), today’s announcement also takes into account current data on the disproportionately negative impact of COVID-19 on Black populations as well as the increased spread of the virus within young adult populations.
“The AUCC’s vibrant and interconnected community has a long tradition of collaboration, community and shared resources,” said Clark Atlanta University President George French, Ph.D, chair of the AUCC Council of Presidents. “We announce this decision with a heavy heart. We know how vital the in-person connection and bonds formed throughout the AUCC are to our students. We wish the situation were different, but we must do our part to help support the health and safety of our community and we are committed to being part of the solution as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College are all well-positioned to provide excellent virtual educational and student life experiences, and faculty and administrators are committed to interactive and holistic approaches to both equip and inspire AUCC students. All schools are poised to provide an engaging online Fall 2020 semester enhanced by summer faculty training on optimizing online course delivery; additional recent investments in technology, learning platforms, and collaboration tools; and dynamic new programming and planned activities consistent with HBCU culture and traditions. AUCC students will also have access to online services provided by the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library to further supplement the virtual learning experience. Contingent upon improvements in health data, we hope to resume in-person instruction for the Spring 2021 semester.
“The health and safety of AUCC students, faculty, and staff was at the heart of this deeply disappointing decision,” said Todd Greene, executive director of the Atlanta University Center Consortium. “Through real-time monitoring of the distressing COVID-19 trends both in Atlanta and across the United States, it is now clear that the surges in COVID-19 cases in Georgia and in the home states of our students makes it impossible to safely resume in-person learning this fall. The AUCC looks forward to welcoming students back to campus when it is safe to do so.”
Specific plans and polices will differ for each AUCC member institution, and each has issued guidance for its students and other constituencies. Please visit the website of each institution for specific information, and visit http://www.aucenter.edu for updates.
Related announcements by AUCC member institutions and the AUCC:
Clark Atlanta University:
CAU President Fall 2020 Re-Opening Letter
Message from the President
An Announcement from the Office of the President
Morehouse School of Medicine:
MSM’s Fall Plans Unchanged amid AUC Institutions’ Decision
Atlanta University Center Consortium
Letter from AUCC Executive Director Todd Greene Regarding Announcement of Fall 2020 Semester Virtual Instruction at Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College
Frequently Asked Questions
Why were earlier decisions reversed?
We have been regularly monitoring the state of public health in Atlanta, Georgia and across the United States, and the steady rise in COVID-19 cases marks a stark change from the pandemic’s trajectory when we communicated earlier this month. Due to the surge in COVID-19 cases and the implications for the health and safety of students, their families, and our communities, it has become clear that we cannot safely open our campuses this fall as previously announced.
What data and other information was used to make the decision?
In addition to assessing Georgia’s rate of COVID-19 infection, as well as that of the states where the majority of our fall-registered student population reside, our AUCC working groups considered a number of other factors when making this decision including: projected hospital capacity rates in metro Atlanta, information regarding the increased spread of COVID-19 within young adult populations, the continued disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black populations.
What mental health and wellness services are available to students?
The AUCC is committed to supporting mental health and wellness for our student population and we are working to enhance access to these services. Additionally, we are creating opportunities for mindfulness and support services during these challenging times. Mental health and wellness services have the full support of each college’s president and will be announced in due course.
When will announcements be made about the Spring 2021 semester?
We’re working through details about the Spring 2021 semester, and while we hope to resume in-person instruction, that decision will be contingent upon improvements in health data and will be made later in the year.
Has the Academic Calendar changed?
The academic calendar announced on July 1 will remain in place. Classes will begin on August 19. Classes will end and exams will take place before Thanksgiving.
Will this impact course offerings?
All courses will be administered online. Any special circumstances will be addressed by each institution.
What measures are being taken to ensure high-quality academic experiences?
AUCC institutions have invested in technology, learning platforms, collaboration tools and faculty training to ensure that each student continues to have a high-quality educational experience in which they are both challenged and nurtured by faculty.
Will students have a pass/fail option?
Grading policies will be determined by each institution.
Will cross-registration be offered?
Many courses typically available through cross-registration will be available in an online format subject to the capacity caps that are already in place.
How will the AUC Woodruff Library support students?
AUC Woodruff Library will provide remote services for students and faculty, including online access to resources and collections and virtual librarian support. More information is available at www.auctr.edu.
How will international students be impacted?
AUCC institutions are committed to supporting international students. Please refer to policies at each institution regarding special needs for international students.
How will traditional fall on-campus activities, like Homecoming and Commencement, be impacted?
There will be no on-campus events or activities held this Fall. We are committed to offering virtual experiences that provide students with opportunities to still interact with their campus community and have an enjoyable college experience.
How will New Student Orientations be handled?
New Student Orientations will be held virtually. We are committed to ensuring a meaningful experience for all new students and will share details and invite students to participate in the coming weeks.
What social experiences are being planned?
We are currently planning and developing social experiences for students to take advantage of in the new online environment that are consistent with our HBCU culture and ensure the best experience possible for our students.
How will career services and advisement occur?
Career services, academic advising, and faculty office hours will still occur virtually. Faculty and administrators remain committed to interactive and holistic approaches to both nurture and challenge our students and ensure learning continuity and effective advisement occurs, no matter the format.