Dear Morehouse Students, Faculty, and Staff:
In the months since students evacuated campus, we have been working diligently to plan for their safe return. Thank you for your patience in allowing our Emergency Management Team to develop what I believe is a comprehensive plan to open Morehouse College to students for the Fall 2020 Semester. Classes are scheduled to begin on Aug.19, 2020.
Morehouse College will offer an exceptional educational experience that has been significantly modified to protect the health and safety of the entire Morehouse Community during these challenging times. As you know, the COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in the infection of nearly 3 million people nationwide, including about 80,000 in Georgia. We, at Morehouse College, have already begun to implement proactive steps to mitigate risks associated with the spread of COVID-19, while maintaining services necessary to prepare for the re-opening of the campus. The Fall 2020 Semester will look like no other in Morehouse history.
Based on the recommendations of leadership across the College, conversations with medical and science experts, and discussions with fellow Atlanta University Center presidents, I have decided that Morehouse will offer a hybrid learning environment with a mix of online and in-person classes. Students in residence houses will have single rooms to provide the proper social distancing that they need to thrive and stay as healthy as possible.
Our typical patterns and behaviors will be modified:
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. We will provide more details in the coming days that will explain how we will achieve those safety mandates, which are necessary to protect Morehouse as much as possible from the spread of COVID-19.
- 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 infected with COVID-19 students to an alternative location.
- The College will continue to follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health department as the agencies keep the campus informed about the spread, prevention, and treatment of COVID-19 and its symptoms. 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.
- 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 will be held from July 14-16, 2020.
- Move-in for freshman and transfer students will be held from Aug. 16-17, 2020. Move-in for upperclassmen will be held on Aug. 18.
- Each student in a traditional residential house and Otis Moss Suites East will have their own room.
- All students will be required to adhere to the public health and safety guidelines provided while on campus.
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.
Morehouse is known for its strength as a community. Since 1867, we have been educating men who are dedicated to academic excellence, leadership, and service. That historic legacy will not be disrupted now. We are committed to maintaining the quality and continuity of our academic program regardless of whether our students are on campus or learning remotely.
We will continue to monitor the very fluid path of the COVID-19 pandemic and make adjustments to our safety and academic plans as needed. It is imperative that every member of the Morehouse Community adhere to the guidelines that we have established. With your collaboration and pride in the community, the 2020-21 academic year will be a success for our new and returning students.
David A. Thomas, Ph.D.