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Emergency Preparedness

Spelman College Takes Phased Reopening Approach

Spelman College in Georgia has announced a phased reopening plan that includes both in-person and online instruction, in a "low-density hybrid" model. This fall, in-person instruction at the historically Black college for women will only be available for first-year students (about 25-30 percent of the student body); graduating seniors will return to campus in February 2021, and the hope is for a full reopening in the fall 2021 semester (depending on the state of COVID-19 containment or a vaccine).

"The entire Spelman community longs to re-engage on campus with our talented students and members of the faculty and staff — and we understand the low-density hybrid model is not the experience many of our students envisioned for their time at Spelman," said Mary Schmidt Campbell, president of the college, in a statement. "Our path forward focuses on maintaining first and foremost the health and safety of our students, and faculty and staff members. At the same time, we have re-envisioned ways in which we continue to build the Spelman sisterhood, provide our outstanding signature Spelman education and maintain institutional fiscal stability."

"Our reopening plan is grounded in confidence grown of data," commented Sharon Davies, Spelman's provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Several steps will be critical to our ability to resume campus life, including adherence to a strict regimen of daily health and safety practices. As public health conditions and the ability to contain the COVID-19 threats improve, we hope to be able to bring more of our students back to campus."

Phase 1 of the plan — making health and safety preparations — began in June. The college formed a 50-member reopening task force, comprised of administrators plus faculty, staff and student representatives. According to a statement from the college, preparations included onboarding COVID-19 training modules; increasing the cleaning and sanitizing regimen; ordering personal protection equipment; setting up testing, contact tracing and symptom monitoring protocols; determining measures for isolation, quarantine and resurgence; setting size limitations of on-campus classes and meetings; and more.

Phase 2 involves the return of first-year students as well as ROTC students to campus for the fall 2020 semester, as well as the resumption of on-campus research in wet labs and creative spaces. Before coming to campus, all students, faculty and staff members will be required to participate in online health and safety training, and provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result. In addition, faculty will receive training on revamping their courses for effective, engaging online instruction.

In phase 3, beginning Feb. 1, 2021, graduating seniors will join the on-campus student population. And phase 4 will represent a full reopening (if conditions allow) in fall 2021.

"Last spring taught us that no matter how well we plan, the realities of this pandemic may require us act swiftly to change course," noted Davies. "This means that any plan to reopen must be able to flex and pivot as evolving conditions demand. We will watch these health conditions carefully and respond accordingly."

Spelman's full reopening plan is available on the college website.

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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