University System of Ga. moves to online courses for rest of semester

Students navigate Georgia State University’s main campus in Atlanta, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Georgia State and other Georgia colleges and universities moved to online classes in the face of the mounting coronavirus threat.
Students navigate Georgia State University’s main campus in Atlanta, Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Georgia State and other Georgia colleges and universities moved to online classes in the face of the mounting coronavirus threat.

The University System of Georgia announced Monday afternoon that all of its 26 colleges and universities will conduct online instruction for the rest of the semester, with “extremely limited exceptions” to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Students are not allowed to return to campus until they receive permission from their institution, the University System said in its announcement.

“Additionally, residence halls will be closed, with minimal exceptions for students unable to return home, or who cannot find housing elsewhere. Students will receive specific instructions from campus leaders regarding when they will be allowed to return to campus to retrieve their belongings from residence halls. Students must follow those instructions. For those students who are unable to depart campus, we will make every effort to accommodate these students,” the University System said.

The University System includes the University of Georgia, Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State University and Georgia Southern University. The system has about 330,000 students.

A University System spokesman declined further comment, saying the system is working with its schools on additional details about the plans. The University System said Thursday it would close temporarily suspend instruction for at least two weeks to prepare for possible online instruction.

Many colleges locally and nationally have decided in recent days to do online instruction.

Emory University, the state's largest private institution, announced last week it was moving to online instruction for the rest of the semester. Emory announced Monday that two undergraduate students have the virus. Atlanta's historically black colleges and universities - Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College - made a similar decision last week.

The Technical College System of Georgia, which has 22 schools, has said it is temporarily closing its campuses and many of its schools have made plans to conduct online instruction once classes resume.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday afternoon that he's ordered all public schools and colleges closed starting Wednesday through the end of the month, but online learning can continue. Kemp's office and the University System will work together on how the governor's order will be implemented.