Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta announce virtual learning for the upcoming academic year

The Atlanta-based HBCU's announce their decision to move instruction online for the fall 2020 semester.

A Spelman student watches a film screening at the school. (Photo: Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing many colleges and universities to shift their fall plans with Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Clark Atlanta University, being among the latest to pivot to virtual instruction.

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An official statement released by Spelman College president Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell cites a growing number of coronavirus cases in the region as reasoning for the school’s decision.

“Due to data points that indicate a worsening health crisis in the City of Atlanta and in Fulton County, in which Spelman and the Atlanta University Center are located, college officials decided the campus would not be able to sustain a residential campus and in-person instruction,” says the press release.

This differs from prior decisions to allow freshman Spelmanites to enter the all-girls college dormitories in August.

“It was just 19 days ago, on July 1, when we published our plan, fully anticipating that, as summer progressed, the virus would subside,”  Campbell says in the statement. She continues, “Quite the opposite has been the case. An honest appraisal of the facts compelled us to change course.”

Morehouse and Clark Atlanta also clarified plans to host their students digitally during the upcoming term. The official Clark Atlanta website shared a letter from university president Dr. George T. French, Jr., detailing how faculty will work remotely, and that the school will send each student a free Dell laptop to complete their work. He also shares a discount for enrolled students.

“Last but not least, due to the financial burden that the pandemic has had on students and parents and the change in instructional delivery, the University will discount tuition by 10%, and mandatory fees will be lowered to $325 to cover IT and library fees for the Fall 2020 semester,” he writes.

Morehouse, the prominent all-male college, will allow one campus residence to remain open for 40 international students and others in critical need of housing, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

President David A. Thomas issued a public statement regarding the closure.

“This is a disappointing turn of events for all of us, but I believe it is the best and most prudent path forward. It is imperative that we get this right because there is too much to risk if we don’t. Morehouse educates 2,200 students and employs approximately 475 faculty and staff members. We must delay our exceptional on-campus experience for the well-being of everyone in our community,” he writes.

Together, the institutions create the Atlanta University Center Consortium, allowing coeds at all three to share resources and sometimes classes. Protecting the students enrolled in the AUCC and its surrounding community was a priority in the decision.

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“Given that the AUCC represents historically Black colleges and universities, today’s announcement also considers 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,” writes Campbell.

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