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Spring 2021 Path Forward

The Path Forward Spring 2021

Spelman College is announcing guidance for the spring 2021 to provide students and their families time to plan and prepare for the second semester of the 2020-2021 academic year. The College is sharing its intentions for a low density, hybrid model when classes are scheduled to resume on Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. Spelman is prepared to adjust their mode of operation, including continuing with fully remote learning, should the pandemic not improve based on data from public health organizations.

Path Forward Student at DeskTo maintain Spelman’s academic excellence and mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, in the second semester, the College plans to implement significant proactive health and safety protocols, including required COVID-19 testing, symptom tracking and monitoring, and contact tracing. These protocols will be added to those already in place: mandatory mask wearing and frequent handwashing and disinfecting.

The reduced density — about 30 percent of Spelman’s normal operating capacity — will allow for the necessary physical distancing, as well as the space needed on campus for quarantining and isolating should students become exposed to or infected with the virus. Those students living on campus will have access to both in-person and remote classes.

The low density, hybrid modality is the recommendation of the 50-person Spelman College Task Force on the Path Forward, whose work was informed by science, data analysis, public health guidance and the community’s need to begin transitioning back to a campus experience.

Start of QuoteOur plans are based on Spelman’s ability to monitor several health metrics, our faith that our community will adhere to health and safety protocols, and the knowledge that we may need to pivot back to remote learning if the data continues to worsen,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, Ph.D., president of Spelman. “In order to give students and their families time to plan, we are letting them know our intentions a full two months before the semester begins. Our goal is to move forward cautiously in beginning End of Quotethe process of reuniting some students and faculty and staff members in a safe residential, classroom and community environment.

Spelman’s Task Force has determined that we can support 350 students in the residence halls. First-year students, seniors and some student leaders will be given first priority for residing on campus. The Division of Student Affairs is developing an application to reside on campus and a process for selection.

The balance of students will continue to learn remotely. To support the students living in the residence halls, there will be a select number of faculty and staff on campus for a total population that is about 30 percent of our normal operating capacity.

Spelman students living off campus will be able to enter campus for events (up to the campus low-density re-population capacity) and for in-person classes. However, because faculty members will be given the option to elect to teach in-person or remotely, all students should be prepared to take classes online. If classes are conducted in-person, faculty members may rotate students on different class days to satisfy class size limits to achieve a low-density teaching and learning environment.

In general, each member of the Spelman community will have to personally commit to stringent protective measures to maintain safety, including:icons-w330h200-mask

  • universal COVID-19 testing of students, faculty and staff members, and recurring vendors
  • required mask wearing - indoors and outdoors - in all public spaces, classes and gatherings
  • daily symptom checking
  • physical distancing
  • frequent handwashing

icons-w330h200-phasesThe College continues to follow a phased approach to reopening, based on the Task Force’s guiding principles: Prioritizing the health and safety of students, faculty and staff members; maintaining academic excellence and preserving fiscal sustainability. The spring semester provides the opportunity to move from a fully virtual environment (Phase 1) to a low density model (Phase 2). Spelman will continue to evaluate conditions, considering its guiding principles to determine when it might transition to subsequent Phase 3 and Phase 4 of repopulation.

As in the past, the plans for the spring semester modality were made in concert with Spelman’s Atlanta University Center Consortium partner institutions, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Morehouse School of Medicine. While some measures across the AUCC campuses differ, mostly because of the varying physical sizes of the institutions, there was deep collaboration to ensure that the collective community will have a safe experience as each intends to move forward with some level of campus re-population.

Spelman’s health protocols have been informed by Kara Garretson, the infectious control response senior epidemiologist for MSM and the AUCC, other public health experts at MSM, and a review of best practices developed through MSM’s resumption of in-person operations this summer. These practices are also informed by the latest scientific research on the virus and current guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Georgia Department of Public Health and other federal and regional health agencies.

Spelman will continue to carefully monitor specific public health metrics (infection and death rates and hospital ICU bed capacity) in metropolitan Atlanta, Fulton County, and Georgia, and will notify constituents as early as possible if the public health metrics dictate a need for a change in the mode of operation.

The College is continuing to finalize the specifics of the academic and safety plans for the spring semester. Confirmed details can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions below.

Spring 2021 Frequently Asked Questions

  • How are students and faculty and staff membersgoing to be kept safe?
  • Are there proactive health precautions students and faculty and staff members should take before returning?
  • What are the COVID-19 testing procedures?
  • What is the College’s isolation and quarantine capacity?
  • How often are the symptom and temperature checks?
  • What are the masking rules?
  • What are the handwashing and hygiene protocols?
  • What will happen if there is a spike in COVID-19 cases on one of the campuses?
  • What if a student simply feels uncomfortable attending class?
  • What if a faculty or staff member feels uncomfortable coming to work due to personal health risks or risks to persons living with them?
  • What should a student do who is experiencing symptoms? Faculty and staff members?
  • What students will be invited to live in residence halls on campus?
  • How will on-campus living arrangements be affected?
  • Is there an impact to residence hall move-in plans?
  • How will students who remain on campus participate in academic and co-curricular activities?
  • Will a student attending one AUCC institution be able to attend classes and visit residence halls on another campus?
  • Will commuter students be invited back for in-person instruction?
  • How has the academic calendar been affected?
  • How is access to the library and library services affected?