Well-Being Prevention & Cures

As coronavirus surges in Georgia, HBCUs move to online classes for fall semester

getty: People stand in line to get tested for COVID-19 at a free walk-up testing site on July 11, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Story at a glance

  • Three historically Black colleges and universities in Atlanta will continue remote learning for the fall semester.
  • The school presidents cited the recent surge in COVID-19.
  • The state has confirmed more than 145,575 cases with 3,176 deaths, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Three historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Atlanta announced Monday students will not return to campus when classes begin this fall amid coronavirus fears.

Presidents from Spelman College, Morehouse College and Clark Atlanta University said Monday they made the decision to move to virtual instruction for all students during the fall 2020 semester due to the worsening health crisis in Atlanta. 


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“It was just 19 days ago, on July 1, when we published our plan, fully anticipating that, as summer progressed, the virus would subside,” Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell said in a news release. “Quite the opposite has been the case. An honest appraisal of the facts compelled us to change course.”


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Morehouse President David Thomas said Monday the surge in coronavirus cases in the state prompted the college to go completely online for the fall. 

“As much as I wanted to see the men of Morehouse return to campus for classes on Aug. 19, the spike in COVID-19 cases in Georgia and across the nation warrants us to change course to protect the health and safety of Morehouse students, faculty and staff,” Thomas said in a video announcement. “Morehouse could not guarantee the well-being of our community for in-person instruction, even with the rigorous safety protocols that we were planning.”

The news comes as Georgia on Saturday marked a single-day record in COVID-19 cases, reporting 4,689 cases in a 24-hour period. 

The state has confirmed more than 145,575 cases with 3,176 deaths, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. 

The news comes as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) are at odds over mask requirements. 

Kemp filed a lawsuit on Thursday against Bottoms, who tested positive for COVID-19 several weeks back, and the Atlanta City Council over the city’s mandate requiring residents to wear masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The day prior, Kemp passed an executive order banning municipalities from issuing ordinances requiring people to wear masks. 

Bottoms on Sunday said Kemp not only blocked the city’s mask mandate, but has also moved to put a gag order on her. 

“In addition to being sued over a mask mandate and voluntary advisory guidelines on COVID-19, @GovKemp has asked for an emergency injunction to ‘restrain’ me from issuing press statements and speaking to the press,” Bottoms tweeted Sunday. 

Bottoms defended the city’s order, arguing the requirement is not a political decision but is necessary to curtail the spread of COVID-19. 


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