The main campus of Georgia State University will be empty this summer after a decision Thursday by the University System of Georgia to hold summer courses at the state’s 26 public colleges online in response to the pandemic. ALYSSA POINTER / ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Summer classes at Georgia public colleges will be taught online

The University System of Georgia announced Thursday that Maymester and regular summer classes at the state’s 26 public colleges will be online.

Thousands of students typically take summer classes, either in the regular summer session or an intense compressed session in May. The total undergraduate and graduate enrollment at all the USG campuses last summer was 152,375, according to enrollment reports.

In a notice to college presidents, Chancellor Steve Wrigley said, “May and summer semester instruction will be delivered remotely with limited exceptions. USG institutions will return to normal operations for fall semester assuming health conditions allow for it. All institutions should continue to implement their current telework and flexible work strategies so that only a minimum number of staff are on campus to maintain operations and support remote instruction.”

On March 16, Gov. Brian Kemp gave K-12 schools and colleges the authority to close in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Georgia’s public campuses migrated 40,000 in-person classes to remote instruction, which officially began this week.

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On Wednesday, the Board of Regents, the appointed body that oversees the public colleges, heard an update on the migration during a meeting held via conference call. Tristan Denley, chief academic officer and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, told the 16 regents on the call that there were 250,000 unique logins in the first two days on the online platform. While that count included faculty, a USG spokesman said the logins were overwhelmingly students.

Overall student enrollment at all the USG campuses for the spring semester is about 333,000. Denley said the number of students who have logged in and accessed their courses is steadily increasing as the week unfolds.

“With that significant increase in traffic, we were monitoring closely to make sure students weren’t experiencing any kind of difficulty getting on the system or any kind of lack of responsiveness,” said Denley. “We will monitor this very closely and work with schools.”

In response to the pandemic, 16 summer programs hosted at Morehouse College will be postponed or canceled, while five others will move online. Many of the Morehouse summer programs serve elementary, middle, and high school students. The school also offers enrichment programs and internships for college students.

“The spread of the coronavirus has caused a public health crisis throughout our nation and the world. It has changed the way we live, creating the need for social distancing to stay safe,” said Michael E. Hodge, provost of Morehouse College. “Opening the campus to scores of children, teens, and college students for summer camps and classes would have placed their health at risk during a global pandemic, as well as the health of our cafeteria workers, faculty, and other staff.’’

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