Urban News Staff Reports
President Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. announced Seplman College’s decision today to move to virtual instruction for all students during the fall 2020 semester.
Due to data points that indicate a worsening health crisis in the City of Atlanta and in Fulton County, in which Spelman and the Atlanta University Center are located, college officials decided the campus would not be able to sustain a residential campus and in-person instruction.
The announcement comes nearly three weeks after the College decided to invite first-year students for on campus instruction.
“It was just 19 days ago, on July 1, when we published our plan, fully anticipating that, as summer progressed, the virus would subside,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman College. “Quite the opposite has been the case. An honest appraisal of the facts compelled us to change course.”
The change was made in accordance with expert guidance due to the recent surge in COVID-19 infection rates and reduction of hospital intensive care unit beds in Atlanta and Georgia, and alarming trends across the nation.
In a shift that replaces the previously announced hybrid plan for the Fall 2020 Semester, Spelman joins two of its counterparts in the Atlanta University Center Consortium — Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College — in its decision to move to virtual instruction for all students during the Fall 2020 Semester.
Morehouse School of Medicine, also in the AUCC, will move forward with a hybrid model of in-person and virtual instruction given the school’s role in healthcare delivery and the training of public health and medical professionals.
Given that the AUCC represents historically Black colleges and universities, today’s announcement also considers current data on the disproportionately negative impact of COVID-19 on Black populations, as well as the increased spread of the virus within young adult populations.
“The health and safety of our students was the deciding factor in this difficult situation,” wrote Dr. Campbell in her letter to incoming first-year students. “Because of the worsening health crisis, we have reluctantly come to the realization that we can no longer safely sustain a residential campus and in-person instruction… I can imagine how disappointing this must be for some of you. For others, the change may bring a sense of relief, because, as much as our hearts want to be together, our heads must guide us in these uncertain times.”
Spelman currently has more than 500 students enrolled in summer online classes. The virtual fall semester will benefit from the training of nearly 200 faculty members in the College’s Online Course Development Program that assists faculty as they re-imagine and re-create their courses as engaging and effective virtual learning spaces.