Atlanta’s HBCUs change commencement plans due to coronavirus

5/20/2019 -- Atlanta, Georgia -- Clark Atlanta University graduate Le'Zaire Reese (center) becomes emotional as a rendition the gospel song, "God is," is performed by The Clark Atlanta University Choirs during the 30th annual commencement ceremony at Panther Stadium in Atlanta, Monday, May 20, 2019. (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)
5/20/2019 -- Atlanta, Georgia -- Clark Atlanta University graduate Le'Zaire Reese (center) becomes emotional as a rendition the gospel song, "God is," is performed by The Clark Atlanta University Choirs during the 30th annual commencement ceremony at Panther Stadium in Atlanta, Monday, May 20, 2019. (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Atlanta’s historically black colleges and universities, like schools across the nation, are changing commencement ceremony plans.

Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College said late Tuesday they are moving their commencement ceremonies from May to December. Spelman College sent a message Wednesday afternoon that it will have an in-person ceremony at a later date.

The changes are being made as federal and state officials have urged schools, businesses and other organizations to limit large crowd gatherings to control the spread of the coronavirus. The University System of Georgia has advised its 26 public institutions to scrap its prior commencement plans.

Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Spelman, combined, have about 9,000 students. They are part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium, the largest collection of historically black colleges in the nation.

Morehouse School of Medicine said in a statement Wednesday it has not made a decision concerning commencement, scheduled for May 16, but officials “are carefully assessing potential challenges and opportunities for this year’s celebration.”