Spelman faculty to return to classrooms after initially refusing over COVID protocols
After several faculty members objected to a return to in-person instruction, the college has come to terms with them and their concerns over the virus
Days after announcing they would not return for in-person instruction over COVID-19 safety concerns, Spelman College professors and faculty members say they will be present for classes on Monday.
Initially, the faculty issued a statement saying that they would not teach in-person due to not receiving “clear and enforceable” safety guidelines as it pertained to COVID-19 and the delta variant, as previously reported by theGrio.
The Spelman Faculty Council sent an email to students on Thursday, the day after classes began, to explain their decision. They wrote that “faculty have not received clear and enforceable protocol and safety guidelines that will ensure our health and well-being when teaching face-to-face.
“While awaiting acceptable responses to these concerns, we have decided not to teach in-person. Most faculty will use alternative instructional methods for course delivery.”
On Friday, Spelman President Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell issued a statement that professors and staff will be returning to in-person classes on Monday, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“The College continues to work with the faculty to provide additional guidance on health and safety protocols as rapidly changing circumstances around COVID-19 continue to develop,” Campbell said.
Spelman, an all-female historically Black college and university, had previously announced their intentions to reinstate in-person classes for the fall 2021 semester.
All students and faculty, as is the case with Morehouse College and the Atlanta University Center, would be required to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus, per theGrio.
Currently, 98% of Spelman’s students have been vaccinated, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
At the start of the fall 2021 semester, the school was in the midst of Phase IV of its Reopening Plan, as stated on its official webpage. The previous semester, Phase III included just first-year students, seniors and faculty returning to campus, accounting for only 50% of the school’s capacity.
Spelman also announced on Tuesday that Campbell will be officially retiring at the end of the school year. This comes after the school fulfilled her four-year plan to raise $250 million during a fundraising campagin. She became the HBCU’s 10th president in 2015, and her last day will be June 30 of next year.
Part of that fundraising was a donation from Mackenzie Scott, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s former wife who became a billionaire in her own right after their 2019 divorce.
Spelman was one of 116 organizations Scott gave generous donations to, in the areas of education, community service, and social justice. Spelman received a $20 million gift in 2020, the largest donation in school history.
“MacKenzie Scott’s gift to 116 organizations breaks new philanthropic ground both in scope and in scale. On behalf of the entire Spelman community, I am honored that Spelman College is among the dozens of institutions who are recipients of her gifts,” Campbell said in a statement last July.
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