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Morehouse, Spelman, Clark Atlanta cancel in-person instruction, shift to digital learning for fall semester

The schools have made no decision about re-opening the campus to students for the spring 2021 semester.

ATLANTA — Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta have reversed their decisions to reopen in the fall for in-person instruction. Officials announced Monday that students will continue learning remotely, due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in Georgia.

The college presidents said the decision to postpone in-person instruction is due to the spike in COVID-19, not only in Atlanta, but in many other states where students come from.

The schools have not made any decisions about re-opening the campuses to students for the spring 2021 semester.

“As much as I wanted to see the men of Morehouse return to campus for classes on Aug. 19, the spike in COVID-19 cases in Georgia and across the nation, warrants us to change course to protect the health and safety of Morehouse students, faculty, and staff," Morehouse President David A. Thomas said. "Many of our target enrollment areas are facing outbreaks. And as families use their summer vacation to travel both locally and out of state, Morehouse could not guarantee the well-being of our community for in-person instruction, even with the rigorous safety protocols that we were planning. I believe that continuing online learning is our most prudent path forward.”

In a letter to first-year students at Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell said the data is "sobering." 

"It was just 19 days ago, on July 1, when we published our plan, fully anticipating that, as summer progressed, the virus would subside. Quite the opposite has been the case. An honest appraisal of the evolving facts compelled us to change course," she said. "I can imagine how disappointing this must be for some of you. For others, the change may bring a sense of relief, because, as much as our hearts want to be together, our heads must guide us in these uncertain times. Let me share with you what we are doing to ensure that your community engagement and virtual learning experience will be as enriching as it can possibly be."

Clark Atlanta President George T. French, Jr. said these have  be the "most unusual times any of us has ever seen."

"Thirty-three out of the 36 “high-risk” states are those where approximately 97 percent of Clark Atlanta University’s students reside," French said. "We understand that many students will be heartbroken over this decision, but the overall wellbeing of Panther Nation is our highest priority."

Classes at Morehouse will be taught online from Aug. 19 through the end of finals, Nov. 20, with no fall break. 

All fall sports at Morehouse have been canceled, as well as Homecoming 2020, and international and domestic study-away programs. An on-campus Class of 2020 Commencement, however, is still being planned on campus for Dec. 13, 2020.

Morehouse and Spelman will both offer a 10 percent discount on tuition plus select fees for the online Fall 2020 Semester. Fees for housing or other services that have already been paid will be refunded.

One housing facility will remain open at Morehouse to accommodate around 40 international students as well as others who are in need of critical housing. The Kilgore Student Center will be open with strict sanitizing protocols. 

All faculty, staff, and students will be required to wear face masks and practice safe distancing while on campuses.

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