Update 8/20/2021: Spelman College has announced that they have come to an agreement with the faculty council to restart face-to-face teaching.
“Spelman faculty members have decided to return to in-person teaching effective Monday, August 23,” said Spelman College President, Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D. “The College continues to work with the faculty to provide additional guidance on health and safety protocols as rapidly changing circumstances around COVID-19 continue to develop.”
A representative of Spelman told the Voice that the College is currently exploring self-administered tests that can be taken more frequently for all members of the Spelman community. The current protocol requires students and staff to have a PCR test every seven days for the unvaccinated and every six weeks for the fully vaccinated. The tests are administered by a designated Spelman employee.
Spelman College professors will not be teaching in-person classes this semester until they receive ‘clear and enforceable protocol and safety guidelines’ the Spelman Faculty Council announced in an email to students sent Thursday morning.
Classes began yesterday at Spelman College and hundreds of students have already moved back to Atlanta for the semester. Spelman released a brief statement in response to the faculty council’s decision.
The health and safety of the Spelman community is a top priority for the College as we restore the residential college experience this year. With the guidance of the medical community and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we have implemented mandatory vaccinations, along with masking and periodic testing, in order to obtain the lowest possible risk to the campus community.
In response to faculty concerns, expanded guidance has been posted on the Spelman website for students, faculty and staff.
We welcome the input of faculty. We will continue to monitor the state of community spread in the city of Atlanta and Fulton County while continuing to closely following guidance from the CDC, and adjust plans for on-campus instruction accordingly.
“It’s a little disappointing to hear, but at the same time I feel as if it might be something that has to be done at this point,” said Carlyn Fogarthy, a junior at Spelman.
Fogarthy, a health science major, said she was comfortable having classes in person because everyone was required to get vaccinated and wear a mask but she understands why the professors feel they have to do this because of the way the cases are growing.
She added that for students who moved back to campus or signed new leases, going online for the remainder of the semester would be a major inconvenience.
Freshman Terri Cooper and Ashley Lazenby told the Voice that while they understood the decision they are still disappointed not to have face-to-face classes.
“It’s very impersonal you don’t really— you’re kinda shy— you don’t want to talk to the teachers like that,” Cooper said. “I do think it’s safer however, I think you know to get us back on our feet and move forward as a generation it is better to do everything behind a screen.”
Yesterday both girls came to campus for in-person lectures only to find out that their professors had moved the class online.
“As a commuter student, I drove here just to be told that we wouldn’t have a lab that day, we wouldn’t even have class that day for real,” Lazenby said. “And I was just on campus like, I could’ve done that at home.”
Lazenby, a psychology major, said that even before this announcement she was told that they would not be doing in-person labs for her biology class because there isn’t enough space
“Based off my high school experience I really wouldn’t like online classes,” Lazenby said. “I came to college so I could meet people and engage with my professors and build long-lasting relationships and I don’t really feel like that should happen over a computer.”
Both girls are commuters but said for girls living on-campus the situation is even more dubious.
“There are girls who are basically fed up. They’re just like this should’ve been handled before we came,” Lazenby said.
She continued to say that if the campus is closed and students are forced to move back home it could cause some girls to consider transferring to schools with lower tuition.
Cooper and Lazenby have three more years left to experience Spelman should this year remain virtual. Fogarthy however, only has one year of undergrad left to complete.
“In the class of 2023, a lot of times we feel like we haven’t gotten our time on campus,” Fogarthy said. “We got sent home our freshman year, so we’ve never gotten to complete a full normal year at school.”
Fogarthy said her class got a little taste of the normal college experience and then it was taken away from them in the second semester.
“I really want to enjoy my time here but with COVID and everything— I hope I get a good senior year— a full nice senior year,” she said.
The Spelman Faculty Council did not respond to the Voice’s request for comment on what specific guidelines they would like Spelman to implement that would make faculty feel comfortable returning to face-to-face classes.