Message from CAU President Regarding Fall 2020 Reopening


Dear Clark Atlanta University Community,

The past few months have undoubtedly been the most unusual times any of us has ever seen. My team and I have worked tirelessly in hopes that we would be able to have some sense of normalcy for the Fall 2020 semester. Our initial plans were outlined in a communication that was issued on June 30th, where we planned to reopen the campus for the Fall 2020 semester for freshman and sophomore students, and to provide remote and online learning for juniors, seniors, and graduate students.

However, with the challenging and rapidly changing circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become crystal clear that these plans must evolve again to recognize the newly heightened safety risks associated with COVID-19 in the state of Georgia. 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. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I share we have made the difficult but necessary decision to move to a remote and online learning format for the entire CAU student body in the fall, with faculty and staff continuing to telework.

Throughout our planning process, we have known and acknowledged that there was a possibility that our original plans for reopening in the fall would change. We have regularly been monitoring guidelines, recommendations, expert opinions, executive orders and other regulations issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Governor’s Office, the Georgia Department of Public Health, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the City of Atlanta, and other public health agencies.

Since my last public announcement, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased exponentially. Thirty-six states have seen the infection rates continuously rise and are now being classified as “high-risk” states. Thirty-three out of the 36 “high-risk” states are those where approximately 97 percent of Clark Atlanta University’s students reside. These states include Georgia, Florida, California, Illinois, New York, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

We understand that many students will be heartbroken over this decision, but the overall wellbeing of Panther Nation is our highest priority. This past weekend, there were more than 3.5 million confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S. and over 137,000 deaths. The latest information cites over 77,000 new cases reported nationwide in a single day. These statistics have caused us great concern and further made the case that, with the exception of essential workers, it is not feasible for us to bring students, faculty, staff, and administrators to the campus in the current atmosphere. Your overall wellbeing is our top priority.

Keeping the campus closed in the fall will minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in the Atlanta community. Now that we have made this difficult decision, New Student Orientation for fall 2020 will continue to take place virtually every Thursday through the end of July. Classes for the fall semester will begin on August 19, 2020, and end before Thanksgiving on November 20, 2020.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has presented some challenges for us, CAU is rising to meet those challenges in providing academic excellence by ensuring comprehensive continuity in our students’ learning experience. In doing so, first, we proudly present our Laptop Gifting Initiative, where every financially enrolled CAU student, both undergraduate and graduate, will receive a free, new Dell Latitude 3400 laptop. The new laptops will be shipped to students to the mailing address we have on file. We are asking all students to login to the Banner Web portal to ensure the University has their most current mailing address, and to update this information as needed.

Additionally, every CAU faculty member has been certified to teach fully online courses. Since March, our faculty members completed a rigorous program. They earned the CAU Online Teaching Certification, based on the nationally and internationally recognized Quality Matters Standards (QMS) for the effective design of online instruction.

Last but not least, due to the financial burden that the pandemic has had on students and parents and the change in instructional delivery, the University will discount tuition by 10%, and mandatory fees will be lowered to $325 to cover IT and library fees for the Fall 2020 semester.

With cautious optimism, we pray the spread of the COVID-19 virus will decrease substantially, and that we will be able to get back to some sense of normalcy soon. For the most up-to-date CAU developments concerning COVID-19 and any additional adjustments to the 2020-2021 academic calendar, we encourage you to regularly visit the information page we have established on our website.

In closing, I want to thank you for your flexibility and adaptability in these highly unusual times. I implore you to exercise diligence in your daily lives to aid in decreasing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We are CAU and as we move forward, let us continue to work together in remaining strong and staying positive as we navigate our current situation. God is able and we know that He will see us through. Stay safe, continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask, remain prayerful and be well.

Yours in Service,

George T. French, Jr., Ph.D.