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Spelman, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta announce major changes for return of classes

Signs point to the Atlanta University Center area along Martin Luther King Jr Drive before Northside Drive. AJC FILE PHOTO.
Signs point to the Atlanta University Center area along Martin Luther King Jr Drive before Northside Drive. AJC FILE PHOTO.

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON/AJC

Credit: KENT D. JOHNSON/AJC

Atlanta’s three largest historically Black colleges unveiled plans Wednesday to reopen their campuses for the fall 2020 semester that include significant changes such as mandatory face coverings in large settings,  limiting how many students live on campus, ending in-class instruction by Thanksgiving and no in-person homecoming celebrations.

The changes are part of an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the Atlanta University Center, which has been closed to students since mid-March.

Clark Atlanta UniversityMorehouse and Spelman colleges released plans they said are based on guidelines from federal and state health officials and Morehouse School of Medicine. The three, private schools had a combined 8,000 students last year. Administrators have said they anticipate lower enrollments this fall because of the safety measurements being implemented to prevent COVID-19 on the campuses.

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Each school will require students to be tested for COVID-19 when they return to campus. Students will undergo temperature checks and must complete an app-based daily symptom screening. The schools will also provide additional mental health services.

Some responded on social media Wednesday that first-year students are getting greater accommodations than other students. Spelman officials wrote in its plan that they have adopted a plan that is more conservative than others. The University System of Georgia, which consists of 26 public colleges and universities, is not mandating masks or face coverings in classrooms.

Here are a few additional details about each plan.

Clark Atlanta:

  • Freshman and sophomore students will take courses in reconfigured classrooms on campus while juniors, seniors — even those living on campus as ambassadors and mentors — and graduate students will take their classes remotely.
  • No classes will be held on Wednesdays to allow workers to clean and sanitize the campus.
  • Some residential halls will be reduced in accordance with federal health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Morehouse:

  • Some classes will be held on campus while others will be done remotely. The curriculum for all classes has been loaded on a virtual platform.
  • There will not be a fall break.
  • Each student in a traditional residential house and Otis Moss Suites East will have their own room.

Spelman:

  • The only classes that are eligible for in-person instruction are those for first-year students. All other courses will be online for the fall semester.
  • Students who take all of their classes remotely will get a 10% tuition discount and a 40% discount on mandatory fees.
  • There will be no fall or spring break. The spring semester will start on Feb. 1.
  • Residence halls will be available to a maximum of 640 students. Spelman's enrollment last year was about 2,200 students.