November 10, 2020


As promised, I write with a report on the progress of the Spelman College Coronavirus Task Force on the Path Forward for the spring semester. Our guiding principles continue to direct our work.

Those principles are:

Protect and preserve the health and safety of all members of our community—students, faculty and staff.
Maintain the excellence of a Spelman education.
Maintain fiscal sustainability.

You have shared with us the challenges of online education. Staying away from campus has been isolating and learning has been less than ideal. We know that a Spelman education is an experience - an experience that joins you to your sisters, your faculty and the staff, who work daily in support of your success. College is as much about leaving home and becoming independent as it is taking courses. Balancing those realities with your health and safety during a pandemic that shows no signs of abating has been our challenge.

The Task Force continues its work and the Spelman Board of Trustees will convene later this week. The Board has responsibility for overseeing the business and affairs of the College and trustee expertise has been invaluable as we adapt to the current circumstances.

Though we have not come to a final conclusion, I write now to share our thinking thus far.  

Academic Calendar
As has already been reported, in recognition of the need for wellness breaks, the academic calendar for the spring semester has been revised. This change has been adopted by Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College, as well as Spelman.

What option is the Task Force proposing?
In addition to the calendar revision, the Task Force has recommended a low density, hybrid model for the spring semester. That would mean that a modest number of students would be able to return to campus to live in the residence halls and take classes. Some classes would be in person, others would be remote.

How many and which students will be permitted to return and how will the College decide?
There has not yet been a proposal of how many students or how we would select who returns.

How will students know what classes will be taught by faculty members in person and online? What staff will be on campus to support student life?
In the coming weeks after a decision is made about the model for the spring semester, the College will share a plan for the academic, residential and campus life experience. The presence of faculty and staff on campus would adhere to the requirements of the low density model.

In order to protect everyone’s health and safety, what protocols will be followed?
• Mandatory mask wearing
• Physical distancing
• Frequent testing
• Single occupancy in the residence halls
• Highly-regulated, low density occupancy of classrooms, study and labs spaces
• No visitors
• Possible curfew
• Intensive and frequent disinfecting
• Re-fitting ventilation systems to ensure ASHRAE quality circulation of indoor air.

Most importantly, Spelman would rely on its culture of caring to implement an organizational structure and plan that enables monitoring and compliance with all safety protocols.

Will there be occasions for non-residential students to come to campus?
Spelman will plan a series of events that from time to time will enable small groups of students to come to campus to participate in scheduled events. The first of these events will be a photography session for graduating seniors to take place during the month of January.

We are in the early stages of completing a schedule of events that will be published soon. Local meet ups across the country are also being planned for those students who cannot return to Atlanta. In the spirit of the safe event created by Nina Greene, C’2024, the College will be developing local Spelman Sisterhood pods to help keep you in touch with each other and bind together our beloved community.

In yesterday’s issue of the Spelman Connection, Nina, who is pictured below with her Atlanta University Center classmates, shared the importance of staying connected: "As a freshman, I noticed that the academic portion of our college experience started, but not the social aspect. I thought it would be important to host this event to bring us together and so we could meet one another in person. We were sure to follow the Washington, D.C., social distancing guidelines and allowed a maximum of 25 people. We took everyone’s temperature when they entered and made sure that everyone who attended wore masks. It is our intention to stay in touch and get together again."

Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D.
President, Spelman College

Nina Greene, C’2024, organized a meet-and-greet for fellow first-year students. The event followed COVID-19 safety protocols. Masks were only removed to capture the photo.

Office of the President
Phone: 404-270-5001

Fax: 404-270-5010

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