RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Saint Augustine’s University is moving to virtual learning for one week beginning Wednesday, according to a letter to students from the school’s provost.
The letter from Dr. Josiah J. Sampson, III, who is the provost and vice president of academic affairs, said that classes will be moving online as part of the university’s “ongoing efforts to protect the welfare of our campus community.”
“The health and safety of the Saint Augustine’s University community is our number priority,” Sampson wrote. “Since opening the campus for the Fall 2021 semester, the University has been engaged in promoting and following CDC mandated COVID-19 guidelines.”
All classes will be offered online beginning today and lasting through Oct. 5. In-person classes are set to resume on Oct. 6.
According to the letter, the midterm exam schedule is not changing, despite the move online.
Students are encouraged to check with their professors for guidance on midterms.
Additionally, classes will be held on Microsoft Teams and attendance will be taken.
“Student cameras should be on during class time to be counted as present,” Sampson said in the note.
There was no mention of any on-campus COVID-19 outbreaks or any specific reason why classes were abruptly moved online. The university held a week-long homecoming celebration last week and hosted Chowan University for a football game on Saturday where thousands were in attendance at the game and at a celebration and concert afterward.
Masks were required at all of the events, but it’s unclear if guests who paid to attend the events had to show a negative test or proof of vaccination. All students, faculty and staff at Saint Augustine’s are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Saint Augustine’s sophomore Miles Beasley told CBS 17 that he supports the switch to online classes.
“What went through my mind is that my HBCU is trying to take care of me. That when I’m here, I’m safe. You know what I mean? Because COVID is still a real thing, it still exists unfortunately so we have to take the precautions we need to be safe,” he said.
A little less than one year ago, in mid-October, Saint Augustine’s then-president, Dr. Irving McPhail, died from COVID-19 related complications.
McPhail’s death came just three months after he was appointed as 12th president of Saint Augustine’s University.
University officials told CBS 17 at the time that McPhail did not contract the virus on campus and that no students were infected.
The university released the following statement:
At Saint Augustine’s University, the safety and well-being of our students is always our primary concern. We have regular biweekly testing, we offer vaccinations, we have easily accessed hand-sanitizing stations and we use temperature scanners in several buildings on our campus all to mitigate any viral transmission. Our change in course delivery was another precautionary strategy to mitigate viral transmission on our campus. We will continue to be vigilant in our protocols to ensure that Saint Augustine’s University is one of the safest institutions in this region.Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Josiah J. Sampson, III