Conflicting messages on Ga Tech classes leave students confused

March14, 2020 Atlanta - Georgia Tech student Mason Harrell holding moving boxes heads his dormitory to prepare to move out on Georgia Tech campus on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
March14, 2020 Atlanta - Georgia Tech student Mason Harrell holding moving boxes heads his dormitory to prepare to move out on Georgia Tech campus on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Adding to the confusion about the coronavirus, conflicting messages about the status of classes at Georgia Tech left some students unsure about what they should do.

On Thursday, because of the coronavirus, the University System of Georgia announced that all instruction would be suspended for two weeks starting Monday and that students on campus should leave until March 29, if possible. Georgia Tech then announced that the institute would go to online/distance instruction and students could move out.

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As a result, many students were packing up and leaving. Then late Friday, President Angel Cabrera issued a statement on Twitter that “further assessment will be needed to determine if distance learning will be necessary.”

As a result, some students Saturday said that they were unsure if classes will be resumed or be held online for the rest of the semester.

Rafael Paulucci, an international student from Brazil who is studying computer science at Georgia Tech, said it’s only been confirmed that there won’t be any classes until March 30. And he said it was unclear if students would get refunds on campus housing charges if they move out of dorms.

“We assumed we’d go back home,’’ he said. “Then all of a sudden yesterday around 9 p.m. the president sent a Twitter message where he said actually that was not the case. So now everybody is confused.”

March14, 2020 Atlanta - Georgia Tech students load a truck on Georgia Tech campus on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
March14, 2020 Atlanta - Georgia Tech students load a truck on Georgia Tech campus on Saturday, March 14, 2020. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Georgia Tech spokeswoman Denise Ward said that students were told to remain away from campus, with no instruction, until March 29. “In the meantime we will test our business continuity plans and distance instruction capabilities should we move to distance-based instruction after March 30,” she wrote in response to questions from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“All faculty, instructors, and teaching assistants have been asked to use the available time and be prepared to shift to distance/online instruction if needed. The Institute, each unit, and each faculty member will continue testing our continuity plans and our ability to deliver education to our students in alternate ways, should it be necessary.”

She apologized that changes to earlier guidance to students caused confusion.

“We had 122 students opt to check out of housing throughout the day yesterday. We are advising them not to change plans at this point and have assured them we will share updates with them directly should they need to return to campus on March 30,” Ward wrote.

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