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Clark Atlanta going fully virtual, frustrating some students

It is unclear when the school might return to some in-person instruction.

ATLANTA — Clark Atlanta will move to full virtual learning starting Monday, an announcement made to students over the weekend in a letter from school administration.

It's unclear how long the school will remain fully virtual.

The letter, signed by Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. G. Dale Wesson, indicates that "oversubscribed classes as well as overcrowded classrooms" have become an issue amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.

The school had at one point announced a temporary remote learning period that would go from Aug. 31-Sept. 10. Regular instruction was to resume on Monday, Sept. 13 under that plan.

RELATED: Spelhouse Homecoming canceled again, 'student-only fall festival' planned instead

The letter sent by Dr. Wesson said now, however: "In order for us to ensure that we have resolved and put into place all safety protocols, we will continue delivering your academic instruction remotely and virtually. Once we have all of these things resolved, we will resume in-person classes."

Some students expressed confusion and frustration, though, telling 11Alive's Kaitlyn Ross they had already been in class in-person.

"I had classes in-person, and that was a mix-up too because we were virtual but then I had professors telling me to come in-person, and I was in a funk because I didn't know where I was supposed to be," sophomore Jamya Washington said. "Was I supposed to be at home or in-person?"

She said she "really enjoyed being in-person, getting to go in-person and build that bond with your teacher."

"That's hard to do over a computer screen," Washington said. "I want to be in-person, and I want to go personally, but ugh, it's frustrating. I just want Clark to stick to a plan. I want them to tell us something and go with it."

Clark Atlanta also announced this week its homecoming would be modified to a hybrid of in-person and virtual events.

Armani Harris, also a sophomore and Washington's cousin, told Kaitlyn the "experience has been a whirlwind."

"I am upset about it because I just got in the groove of going to classes, seeing my teachers, seeing other people not on a computer screen," she said. "We can't go to class anymore, our homecoming is taken away, now we have a mask mandate everywhere we go."

Dr. Wesson's letter notes that students must be vaccinated and "wear masks inside the buildings and outside."

Just a few weeks into class, hundreds of college and university students across the state have contracted COVID-19, with Georgia Tech and University of Georgia reporting more than 300 new infections this week.

According to the Department of Public Health, the fastest growing age group for COVID infections is among 18-29 year-olds. 

Dr. Wesson's full letter reads:

Dear Clark Atlanta University Student Scholars,

It has been refreshing to see you on campus this fall and to have an opportunity to engage in conversation with you. As we continue matriculation through the fall semester, we are monitoring daily the significant spikes that are occurring with COVID-19, particularly with the Delta variant. Also, we maintain our commitment to address oversubscribed classes as well as overcrowded classrooms so that physical distancing guidelines can be adhered.

It is also vital that everyone is fully vaccinated, wear masks inside the buildings and outside, and adheres to the six-foot physical distancing policy. Also, you must continue being tested per the guidelines of the University’s policies and procedures. Your health, safety, and overall well-being are our number 1 priority.

In order for us to ensure that we have resolved and put into place all safety protocols, we will continue delivering your academic instruction remotely and virtually. Once we have all of these things resolved, we will resume in-person classes.

I am pleased to inform you what we have accomplished so far to enhance the academic classrooms and buildings to meet COVID safety protocols. They include:

  • Retained a specialized vendor to add additional custodial staffing charges exclusively with providing COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting across all classrooms
  • Retained electrostatic disinfecting devices to conduct COVID-19 “spray fogging” of all classrooms used for in-person learning across campus
  • Continued cleaning and disinfecting efforts are being aligned in concert with class schedules to ensure classrooms are clean and disinfected before and after scheduled classes
  • Installed sanitizer stations and disinfecting wipe stations at the entrance of every building. and in or near classroom entrances
  • Continually enhancing the frequency of high touch surface disinfecting and disinfecting of common areas, i.e., disinfecting of door handles, elevators, restrooms

While we have done a lot, we want to ensure your overall safety, comfort, and well-being with on-ground, face-to-face instruction. I am sincerely grateful for your agility in navigating the ebbs and flows of your academic instruction for this semester. I know it has been an adjustment, but I appreciate your patience and resilience. We will continue to communicate with you throughout the semester.