Message from the Provost – Fall 2020 Re-Opening


Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs



After experiencing a challenging spring semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am pleased to announce the plans for the Fall 2020 reopening of Clark Atlanta University (CAU). We have much of which to be proud. Recent student survey results about our rapid move in the Spring to remote online instruction were quite positive. The health and safety needs of our students, faculty, and staff remain our top priority and have been a reference point for our planning for the fall.


Administrators, faculty, and staff from Clark Atlanta University have worked tirelessly to develop plans for reopening our institution as safely as possible in the fall. The ultimate goal is to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus throughout our campus and the Atlanta University Center.

We all remain committed to the well-being of our respective students, faculty, and staff. Our plans include but are not limited to, mandatory COVID-19 viral testing prior to returning to campus, the mandatory wearing of face coverings while on campus, and daily temperature checks upon arrival to campus for all administrators, faculty and staff. Additionally, there will be designated workdays and work schedules to facilitate the space planning that will be required to create social distancing within workgroups.

Rest assured that the University will take reasonable steps and measures to keep everyone safe on campus. However, we cannot guarantee that COVID-19 will not be on or around campus. It will take the collective and continuous efforts of students, faculty, staff, and visitors to keep the environment safe by following all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and University policies. The University is currently developing a detailed Fall 2020 Reopening Playbook, which students, faculty, and staff can access in the coming days via our website at

In our planning, we paid very close attention and were informed by the advice of scientists and medical experts in aligning our plans with best practices and recommended public health guidelines designed to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within the Clark Atlanta University community.

To that end, we developed an abbreviated academic calendar that will shorten the fall and spring semesters to ensure that students can travel home to spend time with their families and avoid having to return to school after Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.

Click here to view Clark Atlanta University’s abbreviated academic calendar.

Clark Atlanta University has developed plans that will ensure low-density classrooms and residential halls. In this regard, we determined which students would return to campus and which students would receive online instruction.


For Fall 2020, CAU will bring freshmen and sophomores to campus in addition to students who are recipients of some scholarships that include their living in residential halls, and some student leaders who will serve as ambassadors and mentors to our entering freshmen. There will be an estimated 1,700 students at Clark Atlanta University who will be either living on campus or commuting to campus for classes or lab work, out of a projected 4,000 students we expect to be enrolled this fall.

Students will also live in residential halls where the number of persons in dorms has been analyzed carefully and, in many instances, reduced to correspond with CDC guidelines.

All classrooms and residential halls have been sanitized, and we have increased our cleaning staff to ensure that classrooms and residential buildings are regularly cleaned to ensure the safety of members of the CAU community. Bringing only freshmen and sophomores to campus has allowed for this meticulous planning in an attempt to maintain clean and safe classrooms and residence halls.


The University will alter student instruction this fall. Freshmen and sophomores will attend classes on campus in classrooms that have been reconfigured based on recommended guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Juniors, seniors, and graduate students will remain home and take all of their courses online. Juniors and seniors who will live in residential halls as ambassadors/mentors will also take their courses online.

Classes will occur on a Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday schedule. No classes will be held on Wednesdays to allow for the sanitizing and deep cleaning of offices, classrooms, residential halls, dining facilities, and labs.

We have purchased synchronous and asynchronous technologies to accommodate some students in the classroom with the professor and other students who will join via ZOOM. Ultimately, this enables all students to participate in class, respond to the professor, engage in discussions, and ask questions while maintaining safe social distancing. Also, during the Fall 2020 semester, CAU will offer online courses through synchronous and asynchronous instruction in which students can access classes from anywhere high-speed internet is accessible. The established CAU Online Course Standards require that students be allowed to review recorded synchronous sessions, without penalty, if they are unable to engage in synchronous class meetings.


CAU is committed to expanding the institution’s capacity to provide high-quality learning experiences through the implementation of online learning. All faculty who will be assigned to teach fully online courses in Fall 2020 have completed a rigorous program and earned the CAU Online Teaching Certification, which is based on the nationally recognized Quality Matters Standards for effective design of online instruction. Also, each course offered online in Fall 2020 will be assessed through a peer-review process to ensure that the CAU Quality Matters Standards for Online Learning are addressed in the course prior to its delivery to students.


Unquestionably, our on-campus environment will be different this fall. However, we must continue to work together to hold to rigorous academic standards and to provide each student with an excellent academic experience. I believe we “can find a way” to do this while still making the health, safety, and wellness of the entire CAU community a priority. Therefore, we are prepared to make accommodations, on a case-by-case basis, for faculty, staff, and students who are in high-risk groups, and who request a preference to teach, work and attend classes remotely. With guidance from the CDC, high-risk groups include persons 65 years of age or older, as well as those with certain underlying medical conditions such as chronic kidney and liver disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; severe obesity; congestive heart failure; and diabetes.

Clark Atlanta University is and has always been a leader in the community and among Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we will remain diligent in preserving our legacy and maintaining the high standards set by those who have gone before us.

Please continue to stay safe and well. We look forward to the reopening of the University this fall.


Dorcas D. Bowles. Ed.D.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs