|Dear Morehouse Community,|
As we approach the end of the Fall 2020 Semester, I would like to take this opportunity to express to all of you my pride in the resilience of our students, faculty, and staff. Your focus on excellence while studying and working remotely in the face of two pandemics—COVID-19 and the persistence of institutional racism—is to be commended.
I am writing you today to inform you of our reopening plans for the Spring 2021 semester. After assessing the COVID-19 situation and hearing from our students and families who very much want to return to campus, we have developed a plan that will allow up to 1,200 students to live and learn on campus beginning February 1, 2021.
We wanted to afford our students, faculty, and staff ample time to plan a return to class and work as we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation on a daily basis. Spikes in the virus and new recommendations from state and national health experts could alter our plans at a moment’s notice, but we will keep you apprised if that happens.
A hybrid academic program in an academic calendar that has been modified to help curtail the spread of COVID-19 is being planned that offers a limited selection of in-person classes and a full spectrum of asynchronous online courses.
The Spring 2021 academic calendar is as follows:J-Mester (Justice-Mester) classes will be held from Jan. 11-29, 2021.New Student Orientation will be held from Jan. 25-29, 2021.Classes resume on Feb. 1 with the start of the Spring 2021 Semester. Select courses will be offered in-person, depending on the availability of professors, and the major and classification of students.Classes open for cross-registration will be taught virtually.A self-care and wellness break from classes will be held on Wednesday, March 31, and Thursday, April 1. The break will continue through Friday, April 2.Final exams will be held from May 3-7. The Spring 2021 Semester ends on May 7. Commencement Weekend is scheduled for May 14-16.The reopening plan will be executed in the context of some important considerations:Our foremost priority is the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff.Our plan is fluid and could change due to the new wave of COVID-19 infections setting record highs almost daily.We are committed to providing a positive student experience for those online and on campus.Unfortunately, we will not be able to welcome all of our students back to campus this spring. The science does not yet support that. The COVID-19 virus has infected more than 54 million people worldwide, including 11 million in the United States, and about 400,000 in Georgia. In Fulton County, where Morehouse is located, there have been about 34,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
What we have learned since March is that evidence across institutions of higher learning shows that mask-wearing, COVID-19 testing, handwashing, and strict building-sanitizing protocols, as well as a community-wide commitment to public health guidelines, are essential to keeping case counts low.
We will make the following modifications to reopen the campus for hybrid learning in February 2021:
|Health & SafetyMorehouse will implement rigorous health and safety protocols that follow the guidance of federal, state, and local public health experts and epidemiologists. A robust plan for COVID-19 testing and app-based symptom tracking will be implemented for all students, faculty, and staff returning to campus. Morehouse students and employees will be tested for COVID-19 prior to arriving to campus and periodically during the semester, at least once per week or more frequently based on health data trends. Students who test positive will be isolated and quarantined as will any students who have come into close contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus.Students, employees, contractors, and visitors entering campus will undergo temperature checks. Face masks must be worn in public areas, and social distancing of at least six-feet will be necessary in classrooms, residence halls, offices, the cafeteria, and other campus facilities.Faculty and staff who experience COVID-19 symptoms following their return to campus should alert their supervisors and the Office of Human Resources so that contact tracing can begin if necessary. The employees should also see their local physicians, get COVID-19 tests, and shelter in place at home.|
Commuter students who experience COVID-19 symptoms following their return to campus should alert their professors and the Morehouse Department of Health Services so that contact tracing can begin if necessary. Commuter students should also see their local physicians and shelter in place at home.
COVID-19 containment and prevention rules will be strictly enforced. Students, faculty, and staff may be subject to disciplinary action for failing to follow these health and safety guidelines.
The College will continue to follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and the state health department as the agencies keep the campus informed about the spread and prevention of COVID-19. Through this dynamic partnership, informed by sophisticated data algorithms, Morehouse will be able to deliver, with a high degree of confidence, services that will keep our campus as safe as possible.
While Morehouse fully recognizes and understands that no mitigation measure is guaranteed to eliminate spread of the virus, we believe that the measures that will be implemented prioritize the safety of our campus community. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 data, infection rates and hospital capacity, and will make further adjustments as necessary.
Housing Housing is available for up to 1,200 students. Most rooms are double occupancy. A housing survey will be sent to the men of Morehouse to determine who is interested in returning to campus. The housing application will be posted to TigerDen Housing Portal. More information on housing will be available on Wednesday, Nov. 18.
MealsMeal plans will be required for those students who live on campus. Chivers Dining Hall will open for grab-and-go food options and have space for socially-distanced seating for meals.
The Morehouse College Bookstore, POD Market, and a campus restaurant will also be open.
Student ServicesIndoor events will be limited to 10 people and outdoor events will be limited to 100, pursuant to the recommendations of public health authorities. Most events will require pre-registration.
The Atlanta University Center (AUC) Robert W. Woodruff Library will continue to provide remote and in-person services to AUC students. Masks are required for entry.
No visitation will be allowed between Atlanta University Center campuses.
Faculty and StaffIn this new hybrid learning and working environment, faculty and staff will continue to serve the College both in-person and virtually.
A number of faculty are preparing to return to campus for instruction depending on guidance from local health officials. Select courses may be offered in-person, depending on the availability of professors, and the major and classification of students. Classes open for cross-registration will be taught virtually.
Groups of staff will report to work for rotating shifts Mondays and Wednesdays and Tuesdays and Thursdays with alternating Fridays, depending on their assignments.
Employees who have reservations about returning to campus, pre-existing conditions, or family responsibilities that would hinder their return, can contact their supervisors and Human Resources to express their concerns so that work accommodations can be made.
Facilities and Campus AccessAdjustments to entry points, pedestrian traffic patterns, seating, and facility layouts have been made; additional hand-sanitizing stations have been installed in high traffic areas; and ventilation systems have been evaluated to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
Office buildings, classrooms, residence halls, and common areas will continue to be cleaned regularly. High-touch points will be disinfected three times daily.
Please call ahead to check the campus and building access restrictions before planning your trip to Morehouse.
Access to the campus must be limited. Visitors must adhere to Morehouse’s requirements for daily temperature screening checks, safety face masks, and social distancing. A state identification card must be shown to gain entry to the campus. Visitors also will be asked to identify which building they will be going to, and possibly how long they plan to stay on campus.
Morehouse employees, vendors, and contractors should alert their supervisors about potential visitors so that a daily list can be prepared and shared with Campus Safety prior to a visitor’s arrival. Employees are encouraged to limit campus meetings with visitors and use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or another online platform instead.
|Our hope is that this partial return to campus will allow our students to begin to resume a traditional college experience.|
Our mission to educate men with disciplined minds who will lead lives of leadership and service drives us to move forward with a gradual return to normalcy. With your partnership, we will make the Spring 2021 Semester a transformative experience for the men of Morehouse learning on campus and online.
Stay safe. And remember, we’re in this together.
David A. Thomas, Ph.D.