Clark Atlanta University Provides Guidance to Students and Families for Spring 2021 Semester


(Clark Atlanta University, November 16, 2020) – ATLANTA, GA – Clark Atlanta University (CAU) to allow students and their families the necessary time to prepare for the 2021 spring semester, shared its preliminary plans to begin spring classes in-person and virtually on February 1, 2021. Reflecting awareness and anticipation of a fall spike in national COVID-19 cases, the plans include an adjusted academic calendar and a limited return to in-person instruction and campus residency for specific student cohorts. These plans are subject to change based on public health information which is monitored on an ongoing basis.

“We wanted to expeditiously share our plans to adjust the academic calendar and re-open the campus so that students and their families can be best prepared for the 2021 Spring Semester,” said President George T. French, Jr. Ph.D. “The CDC accurately anticipated a spike in coronavirus cases in Fall 2020 which was the basis for our decision to transition to online learning. However, based upon current data we anticipate stabilization or reduction for the 2021 Spring Semester. We’ve made the conservative decision to bring back a reduced number of students to campus. Our students will begin classes February 1, 2021. Additionally, it should be noted that we will continue to be informed by science and should circumstances change, we will maintain online instruction.”

Clark Atlanta University’s classes will begin on Monday, February 1, 2021. The institution has identified the following cohorts for return to on-campus instruction:

  • First-time Freshman
  • New Transfers
  • Seniors graduating in May 2021
  • Designated Athletes 

All other students will continue virtual learning. After a fall semester of virtual instruction, CAU, along with other institutions within the Atlanta University Center, would ideally prefer to return all students to campus. However, by reducing the number of students on their campuses, the institutions are best able to implement rigorous health and safety protocols designed to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. These plans are subject to change based on local and national public health trends.

In collaboration with the AUCC, Clark Atlanta University will implement a rigorous science-based safety strategy, to include COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, isolation, quarantine, and treatment measures to mitigate the transmission of the virus. As part of these measures, CAU will identify and isolate those who could potentially spread the virus and provide medical guidance to students.

Students, faculty, and staff will be tested for COVID-19 prior to arriving on campus and periodically during the semester. Students will have access to student health services at CAU or through the newly opened AUC Student Health Center. Health protocols will be coordinated with Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), a national leader in treating and addressing the impact of COVID-19 among minority populations.

Specific instructions, policies for students, faculty, and staff regarding academic, residential, co-curricular, and health and safety policies will be made available on Clark Atlanta University’s website at

Health and Safety

Health and safety protocols are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and Georgia Department of Public Health. Key elements include:

  • Mandatory Testing and Monitoring of Students, Faculty, and Staff. Students, faculty, and staff will be tested for COVID-19 prior to arriving and periodically during the semester (a minimum of once per week or more frequently based on health data trends). All students must produce a negative result from a COVID-19 test administered 72 hours before arriving on campus. Further, CAU and other AUCC institutions will perform contact tracing relative to students who test positive for the virus, isolate students who test positive, and quarantine students who have come into close contact with a person who has tested positive. The institutions will use technology and algorithms to monitor symptoms and increases in community virus transmission, as well as to perform contact tracing and to communicate with stakeholders.
  • Social Distancing. To promote social distancing, event sizes will be limited, visitor access will be restricted, and some staff will adhere to adjusted work schedules. The campus has also adjusted facilities and posted signage to indicate maximum occupancy for instructional and gathering spaces.
  • Mandatory Face Coverings. CDC-endorsed masks must be worn in all public spaces including the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the AUC. CAU will provide one washable mask to all students and employees.
  • Symptom Checking. Students, employees, and all persons entering CAU and other AUCC campuses will undergo temperature checks and may need to complete an app-based symptom screening daily.
  • Modified Facilities and Access to Campus. To reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure, adjustments have been implemented related to campus entry points, pedestrian traffic patterns, and facility layouts. In addition, the number of hand sanitizing stations has been increased and ventilation systems have been evaluated.
  • Health Services. Students will have access to student health services at CAU or through the newly opened, state-of-the-art AUC Student Health Center on Lee Street.


Modified Academic Calendar

The academic calendar for Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College has been designed to reduce opportunities for potential spread of the COVID-19 virus during the 2021 spring semester. As previously announced, the start of the spring semester will be delayed until February 1, 2021. There will be no official spring break. However, there will be a mid-point break from Wednesday, March 31, through Friday, April 2, 2021 (Good Friday) to help reduce stress and support mental well-being. The last day for final exams will be Friday, May 7, 2021. The calendar applies to all students, including both those attending in-person classes and those learning through virtual instruction.

Key dates in the Spring Semester 2021 academic calendar include:

Clark Atlanta University understands that no mitigation measure is guaranteed to eliminate the spread of the virus. We believe the strategies implemented by CAU and each AUCC member institution prioritizes the safety of the entire AUC community.

For additional details about the safe return to Clark Atlanta University’s campus visit our website at CAU – Forward Together!

While Clark Atlanta University fully recognizes and understands that no mitigation measure is guaranteed to eliminate spread of the virus, the measures implemented prioritize the safety of our campus and our campus community. Clark Atlanta will continue to monitor relevant COVID-19 data

including positivity rates and local hospital capacity. This is a fluid situation which may necessitate further adjustments if community health conditions worsen. Clark Atlanta remains committed to working with all stakeholders to maintain awareness and flexibility, as well as to take personal responsibility for helping to keep the entire AUCC community safe by adhering to requirements, institutional policies, and public health guidelines.

About Clark Atlanta University. Established in 1988 by the consolidation of Atlanta University (1865) and Clark College (1869), Clark Atlanta University (CAU) is one of the Nation’s foremost research institutions, offering students from around the United States and several foreign countries the opportunity to engage in 38 exciting areas of study at bachelors, masters and doctoral levels.

Located in the historic heart of Atlanta, one of the world's great international cities, CAU’s nearly 4,000 students enjoy access to academic and co-curricular experiences, from forensic debate, to on-air broadcasting, to cancer research with world-renowned investigators. From the arts to zoology, CAU combines nearly 300 years of tradition with a solid focus on academic excellence to produce leaders who will shape the future of the global community. Notable alumni include: James Weldon Johnson; American civil rights activist, poet and song writer, (Lift Every Voice and Sing “The Black National Anthem”; Ralph David Abernathy Sr., American civil rights activist; Congressman Hank Johnson, Georgia District 4; Kenya Barris, American award-winning television and movie producer; Kenny Leon, Tony Award winning Broadway Director; Jacque Reid, Emmy Award winning Television Personality and Journalist; Brandon Thompson, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for NASCAR; Valeisha Butterfield Jones, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer at the Recording Academy. To learn more about Clark Atlanta University, visit