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Spelman College Announces Phased Reopening of Campus Share a Spelman College Press Release


Jazmyn Burton
Spelman College
(404) 798-5212
Twitter: @SpelmanMedia

Spelman College Path Forward Announcement
ATLANTA (July 1, 2020) – Spelman College will begin reopening its campus cautiously in August and gradually invite more of its community back to the College in phases, the institution announced today. Spelman is adopting a low-density hybrid model, including both in-person and online instruction, that prioritizes the health and safety of the campus community, as well as a stellar academic and co-curricular experience. The College’s Board of Trustees recently approved the reopening plan, Spelman College: A Plan for the 2020-2021 Academic Year (PDF) , which began in June.

“The entire Spelman community longs to re-engage on campus with our talented students and members of the faculty and staff — and we understand the low-density hybrid model is not the experience many of our students envisioned for their time at Spelman,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell. “Our path forward focuses on maintaining first and foremost the health and safety of our students, and faculty and staff members. At the same time, we have re-envisioned ways in which we continue to build the Spelman sisterhood, provide our outstanding signature Spelman education and maintain institutional fiscal stability.”

Phase I
Spelman began creating its sustainable future while completing the end of the 2020 academic year with remote learning and forming a 50-member reopening task force (including administrators and members of the faculty and staff, and student body). In June, the College entered the first phase of reopening, making safety and health preparations for its student residential population and workforce. Those preparations include:

  • onboarding COVID-19 awareness and precaution training modules
  • increasing cleaning and sanitizing regimen
  • ordering personal protection equipment (PPE)
  • setting up COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and symptom monitoring
  • creating signage about face covering, physical distancing and hand washing
  • determining measures for isolation, quarantine and resurgence; size limitations of on-campus classes and meetings; and guest visitation protocol.

  • Phase II
    The second phase of the reopening will begin on August 1, 2020, prior to the start the fall semester on Aug. 19, 2020. During this phase, Spelman’s on-campus presence will include first-year students, who make up between 25-30 percent of the student body. ROTC students will also be given on-campus housing preference due to the requirement that they engage in early daily military practices in Atlanta.

    The College’s low-density hybrid model will allow students and faculty to have continued access to online learning tools, while enabling some students, and faculty and staff members to return to campus in the fall, said Sharon Davies, Spelman’s provost and vice president for academic affairs.

    “Our reopening plan is grounded in confidence grown of data,” said Davies. “Several steps will be critical to our ability to resume campus life, including adherence to a strict regimen of daily health and safety practices. As public health conditions and the ability to contain the COVID-19 threats improve, we hope to be able to bring more of our students back to campus.”

    Before returning to campus, students and faculty and staff members will be required to participate in online health and safety training and all constituents seeking to access campus must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result. The Atlanta University Center Consortium institutions Spelman, Clark Atlanta University, and Morehouse College will partner with the AUCC’s Morehouse School of Medicine to provide testing, symptom checking and updates about campus mitigation efforts. A renown academic health center, MSM is also leader of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Infrastructure for Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 Within Racial and Ethnic Minority Communities.

    In the fall, the only classes available for in-person instruction are those for first-year students. While Spelman currently has more than 500 students enrolled in summer online classes, the return of the full academic year will be precipitated by the training of nearly 200 faculty members in the College’s Online Course Development Program to re-imagine and re-create their courses as engaging and effective online learning spaces. Phase two also includes a return of on-campus research in wet labs and creative spaces.

    Phase III & IV
    Phase three will begin February 1, 2021. In this phase, the on-campus student population will include first-year students and graduating seniors, a segment of the population that makes up about 50 percent of the student body.

    The College anticipates entering its final stage of reopening during the fall 2021 semester. Reaching this final phase will depend on COVID-19 being contained or a vaccine readily available, said Davies.

    “Last spring taught us that no matter how well we plan, the realities of this pandemic may require us act swiftly to change course,” she said. “This means that any plan to reopen must be able to flex and pivot as evolving conditions demand. We will watch these health conditions carefully and respond accordingly.”

    The phases of Spelman’s Path Forward were informed by the guidance of the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention, the Georgia Department of Public Health data and authorities, and the plans of colleges and universities elsewhere. In developing the plan, the task force also took into consideration the fact that African Americans, the majority of Spelman’s workforce and student body, remain most vulnerable to the severities of the virus.

    The full reopening plan is available via Spelman’s Path Forward. The full plan is accessible for review here: Spelman College: A Plan for the 2020-2021 Academic Year (PDF).

    Spelman College
    Founded in 1881 in Atlanta, Spelman College, a historically Black college and a global leader in the education of women of African descent, is dedicated to academic excellence in the liberal arts and sciences and the intellectual, creative, ethical, and leadership development of its students. Home to 2,100 students, Spelman empowers the whole person to engage the many cultures of the world and inspires a commitment to positive social change. Designated by the Department of Defense as a Center of Excellence for Minority Women in STEM, the College is the country's leading producer of Black women who complete Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and math. Recent initiatives include a Gender and Sexuality Studies Institute and a program to increase the number of Black women Ph.D.s in economics. With an annual six-year graduation rate 30 points higher than the average for African Americans nationally, Spelman graduates’ students who win prestigious national and international awards, virtually every year, including Fulbright, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, Rangel and Pickering. U.S. News and World Report 2020 rankings list Spelman as No. 57 among all liberal arts colleges, No. 22 for undergraduate teaching, No. 6 for both innovation and social mobility among liberal arts colleges, and No. 1 for the 13th year among Historically Black Colleges and Universities.


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