March 12, 2020

Re: A Message From Todd Greene, executive director of the Atlanta University Center Consortium

Dear Atlanta University Center Community,

The Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has presented extraordinary global challenges, including ones for higher education. Indeed, the safety of the Atlanta University Center (AUC) community— including students, faculty, staff and visitors— remains the highest priority across all AUC institutions. Consequently, we are taking significant and deliberate steps to respond to our current reality while continuing to deliver excellent quality academic instruction.

While each institution has developed policies and has communicated with its respective campus stakeholders regarding COVID-19, we are also engaged in coordinated efforts to safeguard the entire AUC community.

An Atlanta University Center Coronavirus Task Force has been established by the presidents of the Atlanta University Center Consortium (AUCC) member institutions— Clark Atlanta University (CAU), Morehouse College, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), Spelman College, (as well as leadership from the Robert W. Woodruff Library, Interdenominational Theological Center, and Morris Brown College)— to collaboratively inform decision making. Given our contiguous physical campus environment, cross-registration, joint events, and shared facilities, the Task Force has been charged with coordinating cross-campus policies, procedures, and collective approaches. Further, this group is comprised of relevant campus functional leaders, medical professionals, and public health professionals from across the AUC and leverages the expertise and resources of each member institution.

After considerable discussion — and informed by available information, data, and best practices — CAU, Morehouse, MSM, and Spelman are taking the proactive step of moving to a virtual academic environment for the remainder of the semester. Upon the recommendation of the Task Force, and with approval by the presidents, AUC institutions are implementing the following preventative measures effective immediately:

Spring Break Extension
Spring Break for CAU, Morehouse, and Spelman has been extended through Sunday, March 22. Spring Break for MSM will run from March 21 – 30 as previously scheduled. During this time, faculty will be finalizing a transition to a virtual course delivery model and classes will no longer be offered on campus.

Virtual Instruction and Instructional Continuity
In-person classes have been suspended through the end of the academic year at CAU, Morehouse, Spelman, and MSM. Most classes will instead proceed through an online format beginning on Monday, March 23. (Additional information on accessing online instruction will be provided to students by their faculty members and the academic affairs division of their respective institution.)

Residence Life
We are making significant changes to our residential experiences to encourage “social distancing” – a key preventative measure which limits interactions that would advance the spread of the virus.

In some cases, this means asking students to vacate residence halls during the extended Spring Break period and return home for their virtual learning for the balance of the semester.

Policies differ by AUC institution, and you should reference the communication from your institution for guidance. Specific information about move out schedules, as well as additional information about ongoing residence hall policies will be provided by the residential life offices and student affairs divisions of each institution.

Events, Meetings and Travel Cancellations
Consistent with “social distancing,” events have been canceled on AUC campuses through the end of April. We also understand that Commencement and end-of-year activities are a special time for our graduates and their families. While no decision has been made regarding the status of events after April, discussions are ongoing and we will have more information in the coming weeks. AUC institutions are also significantly limiting non-essential travel. Please review institutional communication regarding specific policies related to meetings and travel.

Working From Home
Though in-person classes have been suspended, employees should refer to specific institutional communication for guidance regarding reporting to campus for work.

Students returning to campus to move out should note the following mandatory precautions:
Return from countries with Level 3 health notices. Faculty, staff, and students are prohibited from returning to an AUC campus or facilities following travel to countries designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with a Level 3 health notice. (As of today, these countries include China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea).

AUC students, faculty and staff who have recently traveled to, transited through, or are currently visiting a country with a Level 3 health notice must immediately notify their respective student affairs offices (for students) or human resources offices (for faculty and staff) regarding next steps BEFORE returning to campus.

Self-Quarantine and Symptomatic Individuals
Faculty, staff and students who have traveled to a country with a CDC Level 3 health notice are required to self-quarantine away from campus for a minimum of 14 days. In addition, those who have come into contact with an infected person or those who are experiencing symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath should also self-quarantine. (MSM experts will facilitate medical assistance for all AUC students who are symptomatic). Please notify your student affairs office (students) or human resources department (faculty and staff) if it is determined you must self-quarantine, will miss class or work, or cannot move out.

Institution-specific Information
You should expect additional communication from your respective institution regarding how this change impacts you. Please continue to refer to their guidance for more specific information regarding travel registration, class attendance, excused absences, telecommuting, housing policies, and other institution-specific policies. These sites also have information regarding prevention methods and valuable links related to COVID-19:

Clark Atlanta University
Morehouse College
Morehouse School of Medicine
Spelman College
Robert W. Woodruff Library
Interdenominational Theological Center
Morris Brown College

AUC institutions are following social distancing guidance from the Centers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The World Health Organization, Georgia Department of Public Health, and U.S. Department of Education by acting to prevent community spread of COVID-19. By canceling in-person classes, eliminating events, and closing residence halls, we hope to prevent person-to-person transmission of the virus, limit group gatherings, curtail exposure due to close living areas, and reduce risk to community members with higher susceptibility to life-threatening illness associated with the virus. We understand that this action, alone, will not stop the spread of COVID-19, and fully recognize the disruption that this decision may cause. We do, however, believe that moving forward in this direction represents a best course in protecting the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.

The AUC Coronavirus Task Force is actively monitoring this very fluid situation and will work through the campuses communications channels with any additional updates. Please continue to be informed, alert and responsible.

Frequently Asked Questions
1. Will this move to a virtual academic experience impact my academic progression?
Students will be able to meet requirements to complete each class with full academic credit. Faculty members will provide additional details as classes resume the week of March 23. Students who successfully complete degree requirements will earn their degrees at the end of the semester as normal.

2. When will a decision be made about end-of-year events, including Commencement?
We are continuing to monitor the medical and public health recommendations regarding COVID-19. Discussions about large events after April 30 are ongoing. Decisions will be communicated by individual institutions as they are made.

3. Will this change impact my financial aid?
In general, financial aid, including scholarships, and other awards, will not be affected. For more details, please contact your institution’s financial aid office.

4. What if I do not have the technology to access online classes?
Students who need support related to technology and internet access should contact their institution’s student affairs office.

5. What is the guidance for students who have cross-registered, are in a dual-degree engineering program, or need assistance with career services?
Students will be contacted directly by the faculty members or their academic affairs division for class instruction. Virtual services will be provided to dual-degree students and for students who are utilizing career services.

6. Will there be a way to access the services and materials of the AUC Woodruff Library?
Yes, remote access for students and faculty continues to be in place, including CHAT and email reference assistance. In addition, the library is working with the institutions (Morehouse, Spelman, ITC and CAU) to place a link to services within the online course systems of each school in an effort to make your access easier. The specific hours for physical access to the library building itself is yet to be determined. This information will be shared very soon.

Please refer to institutional communications and websites for additional information.


Todd Greene
Executive Director of the Atlanta University Center Consortium

Office of Communications  
350 Spelman Lane
Atlanta, GA 30314

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