Photo courtesy of Clark Atlanta University
On Sept. 12, due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, overcrowded classrooms and oversubscribed classes, Clark Atlanta University (CAU) announced that it would revert to remote learning until issues were solved. Dr. G. Dale Wesson, the provost and vice president of academic affairs at the university, sent a letter detailing the university’s decision.
The university had started the academic year on campus with a combination of traditional and online structured courses. Although the letter stated that all classes would be remote effective Sept. 13, some students said they were still attending in-person classes.
“Some days you wake up not knowing whether class will be in person or virtual,” Loryn Carter, a freshman business administration major, said.
Students expressed frustration with the uncertainty and lack of transparency and communication from the university.
“Things are not planned… things have been really unpredictable,” Carter said.
The rise of covid is rampant in Georgia. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, there are currently over 100,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Fulton County, Georgia, over 6,500 hospitalizations and 1,500 confirmed deaths.
“In order for us to ensure that we have resolved and put into place all safety protocols, we will continue delivering your academic instruction remotely and virtually. Once we have all of these things resolved, we will resume in-person classes,” Dr. Wesson said.
Clark Atlanta University sent one letter to their faculty and another to their students on May 4, 2021, requiring everyone to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus. Vaccination and mask mandates were not an issue, however. According to Dr. Wesson’s letter, overcrowded classrooms and oversubscribed classes proved to be an issue for Clark Atlanta University that propelled their virtual reset.
Overcrowded classrooms has been an issue that, according to sophomore biology major Ahnaijah Coffil, faculty took to solving well before this letter was dispersed.
“My calculus class was overcrowded and, due to that, we were online instead of being in person… that was my professor’s choice, not the school’s,” Coffil said.
Although the university has changed their course structure a few times throughout the year, students are still the main priority of CAU administration, according to Carter.
“They want us to go back to our normal HBCU experience… they keep our best interest in mind,” Carter said.
In efforts to give their students as much of a traditional full HBCU experience while also prioritizing the health of the community, the school has decided to turn Homecoming 2021 into a hybrid event. This is detailed in the letter written by the school’s president, Dr. George T. French Jr. that was published on Sept. 10, 2021.
Clark has taken steps to regulate the COVID-19 issue, while also prioritizing the health and satisfaction of their community. Courses that were in-person or hybrid before the letter was sent to the faculty and students have now returned to their normal structure.