To allow students and their families the necessary time to prepare for the 2021 spring semester, Clark Atlanta University’s President Georgia T. French Jr. shared the school’s preliminary plans to begin spring classes in-person and virtually on February 1, 2021.

Reflecting awareness and anticipation of a spike in national COVID-19 cases this fall, the plans include an adjusted academic calendar and a limited return to in-person instruction and campus residency for specific student cohorts. These plans are subject to change based on public health information which is monitored on an ongoing basis, French said.

“We wanted to expeditiously share our plans to adjust the academic calendar and re-open the campus so that students and their families can be best prepared for the 2021 Spring Semester,” French said. “The CDC accurately anticipated a spike in coronavirus cases in Fall 2020 which was the basis for our decision to transition to online learning.

“However, based upon current data we anticipate stabilization or reduction for the 2021 Spring Semester. We’ve made the conservative decision to bring back a reduced number of students to campus,” he added. “Our students will begin classes on February 1, 2021. Additionally, it should be noted that we will continue to be informed by science, and should circumstances change, we will maintain online instruction.”

Classes at Clark Atlanta will resume on Monday, February 1, 2021. The institution has identified the following cohorts for return to on-campus instruction:

  • First-time Freshman
  • New Transfers
  • Seniors graduating in May 2021
  • Designated Athletes

All other students will continue virtual learning. After a fall semester of virtual instruction, Clark Atlanta, along with other institutions within the Atlanta University Center, would ideally prefer to return all students to campus. However, by reducing the number of students on their campuses, the institutions are best able to implement rigorous health and safety protocols designed to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

In collaboration with the Atlanta University Center, Clark Atlanta will implement a rigorous science-based safety strategy, including COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, isolation, quarantine, and treatment measures to mitigate the transmission of the virus. As part of these measures, Clark Atlanta will identify and isolate those who could potentially spread the virus and provide medical guidance to students.

Students, faculty, and staff will be tested for COVID-19 prior to arriving on campus and periodically during the semester. Students will have access to student health services at Clark Atlanta or through the newly opened AUC Student Health Center. Health protocols will be coordinated with the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), a national leader in treating and addressing the impact of COVID-19 among minority populations.

Health and safety protocols are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the Georgia Department of Public Health. Key elements include:

  • Mandatory Testing and Monitoring of Students, Faculty, and Staff. Students, faculty, and staff will be tested for COVID-19 prior to arriving and periodically during the semester (a minimum of once per week or more frequently based on health data trends). All students must produce a negative result from a COVID-19 test administered 72 hours before arriving on campus. Further, Clark Atlanta and other AUC institutions will perform contact tracing relative to students who test positive for the virus, isolate students who test positive, and quarantine students who have come into close contact with a person who has tested positive. The institutions will use technology and algorithms to monitor symptoms and increases in community virus transmission, as well as to perform contact tracing and to communicate with stakeholders.
  • Social Distancing. To promote social distancing, event sizes will be limited, visitor access will be restricted, and some staff will adhere to adjusted work schedules. The campus has also adjusted facilities and posted signage to indicate maximum occupancy for instructional and gathering spaces.
  • Mandatory Face Coverings. CDC-endorsed masks must be worn in all public spaces including the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the AUC. Clark Atlanta will provide one washable mask to all students and employees.
  • Symptom Checking. Students, employees, and all persons entering Clark Atlanta and other AUC campuses will undergo temperature checks and may need to complete an app-based symptom screening daily.
  • Modified Facilities and Access to Campus. To reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure, adjustments have been implemented related to campus entry points, pedestrian traffic patterns, and facility layouts. In addition, the number of hand sanitizing stations has been increased and ventilation systems have been evaluated.
  • Health Services. Students will have access to student health services at Clark Atlanta or through the newly opened, state-of-the-art AUC Student Health Center on Lee Street.
Clark Atlanta University President George T. French Jr. (Courtesy: Clark Atlanta)

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