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Morehouse College Announces Plans For Fall 2020 Semester With Online And Traditional Classes


ATLANTA—Morehouse College has announced a comprehensive re-opening plan for the Fall 2020 Semester that will include mandatory COVID-19 testing, single rooms for students on campus, and a blend of in-person and online learning designed to provide social distancing in a global pandemic.

The academic and safety plan sets the stage for a Fall 2020 Semester that will be like no other in Morehouse history. The College’s signature week-long bonding and school preparation workshop, New Student Orientation (NSO), has been cut to two days and will be virtual. And to further limit crowds, the fall athletics schedules for football and cross country have been canceled. 

The annual Morehouse-Spelman College homecoming, which typically attracts crowds of more than 30,000 people, has been canceled. In addition, fewer Morehouse students will live on campus, and some of them will take online classes only.

The re-opening plan, under development since March 2020, is in accordance with guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and the Georgia Department of Public Health. The foundation of the plan hinges on mandatory COVID-19 testing, campus sanitizing, and a key partnership with the Morehouse School of Medicine. Morehouse will work in collaboration with the Morehouse School of Medicine to track COVID-19 test results and monitor the symptoms of students, faculty, and staff in the Morehouse Community, as well as to provide contact tracing as needed.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in the infection of more than 3 million people nationwide, including about 80,000 in Georgia. The Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) of the Atlanta University Center (AUC) will require all students, employees, and visitors to wear face masks to curb the spread of the virus. State colleges, however, have not mandated that face masks must be worn to enter school grounds. 

“We will follow the strict guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and the state health department so that we can safely transition to low density residential living and learning on campus,” said Morehouse President David A. Thomas. “It’s been nearly four months since we have seen our students. We are looking forward to having the men of Morehouse return to campus under the new normal and hearing their intellectual conversations in the classroom.

“We will also support those who choose to continue their education with us virtually. Our academic program will be delivered at a high level whether our students are on campus or learning remotely.”

Morehouse’s Emergency Management Team will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in Fulton County, Georgia, and the nation, Thomas said, and recommend adjustments to the Fall 2020 Semester safety and academic plans, as needed.

“The health and safety of the Morehouse Community is our top priority,” Thomas said. “We will put students first in all of our decisions.”

The following are some of the modifications that are included in Morehouse College’s re-opening plan:

Health & Safety

  • COVID-19 testing will be required for all students, faculty, and staff who return to campus. Face masks must be worn in public areas, and social distancing will be necessary in classrooms, residence halls, offices, the cafeteria, and other campus facilities.
  • Morehouse will work in collaboration with Morehouse School of Medicine to track COVID-19 test results and monitor the symptoms of students, faculty, and staff in the Morehouse Community, as well as to provide contact tracing as needed. The Morehouse College Department of Housing & Residential Education will work to relocate students who are infected with COVID-19 in the event of a required self-quarantine or isolation as determined by the Department of Student Health Services.

Academics

  • Classes will be held in a hybrid setting, with some classes gathering for in-person instruction and virtual teaching and learning, and others meeting online only. To prepare for this transition, the entire Morehouse College curriculum has been uploaded onto a virtual platform and faculty have been working over the spring and summer to prepare lessons. We also invested in improving technology to accommodate hybrid learning and partnered with Microsoft to expand student access to computers.
  • The academic calendar has been modified to help make sure that students will return home before winter flu season. The Fall 2020 Semester will end before Thanksgiving. There will be no fall break. Final exams will be held between Nov. 16-20, 2020.
  • The Atlanta University Center (AUC) Robert W. Woodruff Library will be announcing plans to provide both in-person and remote service to AUC students.
  • Virtual New Student Orientation (NSO) for freshmen and transfer students is scheduled to be held from July 14-16, 2020. 

Student Services 

  • Each student in a traditional residential house and Otis Moss Suites East will have their own room.
  • In this new hybrid learning and working environment, faculty and staff will be teaching and serving the College both in-person and virtually. We have made accommodations that will allow them to continue their roles in a way that protects the health and safety of those with pre-existing conditions that would make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

Faculty and Staff

  • In this new hybrid learning and working environment, faculty and staff will be teaching and serving the College both in-person and virtually. We have made accommodations that will allow them to continue their roles in a way that protects the health and safety of those with pre-existing conditions that would make them more susceptible to COVID-19.

Facilities and Campus Access

  • Additional hand-sanitizing stations have been added in high traffic areas. Office buildings, classrooms, residence halls, and common areas will be cleaned regularly. High touch points will be disinfected twice daily. Adjustments will be made to provide safe distancing and reduce traffic flow. Signage will designate traffic patterns, entry points, and, in some cases, seating.
  • Air-conditioning systems have been evaluated to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure.

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The historic Graves Hall is the oldest building on Morehouse's campus.
Morehouse College

“We will follow the strict guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and the state health department so that we can safely transition to low density residential living and learning on campus. Our academic program will be delivered at a high level whether our students are on campus or learning remotely.”

Morehouse President David A. Thomas