COVID-19 continues to force colleges and universities to make tough decisions on whether or not to return to the fields and classrooms in the fall of 2020.
For schools in the CIAA, the decision on the field has already been made with the conference postponing all fall sports until further notice.
One CIAA school, has decided to take the cautious approach in the classroom as well. Johnson C. Smith University has decided to go with online classes only for the fall 2020 semester.
JCSU comes to difficult decision
JCSU informed its students and faculty on June 26 that the school would be reopening for “in-person classes and residential living for the fall 2020 semester.”
But a letter from University President Clarence D. Armbrister, posted on the school’s website on July 30 explains that “Since that time, there has been a drastic spike in the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the United States, particularly southern states.” and that “Because the rate of transmission of the coronavirus shows no sign of slowing down and in the interest of the health and safety of everyone in the JCSU family and our community, the Board of Trustees, the Administration and I have made the difficult decision to deliver instruction solely online for the fall 2020 semester. “
With no sports or homecoming for the fall semester of 2020, it was sure to be a different experience on campus had the university decided to stick with its June 26 decision and have students and faculty return to campus.
But with online classes being the reality for Johnson C. Smith University, the archway on Beatties Ford Road will find itself empty until the country can get a grasp on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read the full letter from University President Clarence D. Armbrister below:
Dear JCSU Family,
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to abruptly transition to online instruction in March, it was our intention to welcome students to our majestic campus again in August and to restart campus life as we’ve always known it. On June 26, we informed you of our decision to reopen the University for in person classes and residential living for the fall 2020 semester. Since that time, there has been a drastic spike in the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the United States, particularly southern states. Because the rate of transmission of the coronavirus shows no sign of slowing down and in the interest of the health and safety of everyone in the JCSU family and our community, the Board of Trustees, the Administration and I have made the difficult decision to deliver instruction solely online for the fall 2020 semester.
As I stated in my letter to the JCSU family in June, the plans we announced then were subject to change and would depend on the prevailing conditions at the time we expect to execute our plan. Unfortunately, under current conditions, the risk of an outbreak on the campus which cannot be contained are considered to be unacceptable if we continued on the path toward face-to-face instruction we announced in June. Not only have cases increased over the last month here in North Carolina, but they have also increased in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and the District of Columbia/Maryland/Virginia area – all states where a large number of our students live.
I know how much each of you – especially our freshmen and transfer students – were looking forward to joining us on campus, and I understand your disappointment with this decision. I, too, am disappointed. Some of you have expressed that online learning has been challenging. Our administration, faculty and staff will continue to work diligently to ensure that you will receive a high-quality education, while remaining engaged with the University and with each other, even though our interactions will be virtual. We have reimagined the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning where faculty will enhance their skills and will incorporate technology in ways that provide you with a relevant, rigorous learning experience.
I want to thank you for the patience and understanding you have shown as we have considered the complexities of this pandemic to plan for a fall 2020 semester that will protect the health and safety of everyone. I know you have many questions about the specifics of how we will operate virtually this fall. You will receive several communications that will answer your questions over the next few weeks. Please check your email frequently for these updates, which will also be posted on University’s COVID-19 website www.jcsu.edu/covid. You may call (704) 378-1109 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions for specific departments.
Although we all are disappointed because we will not be together physically, we will move forward and get through this. As we adjust to this new normal together, I am confident that we will gather together on our beautiful campus again in the not too distant future.
Clarence D. Armbrister, J.D.