ATLANTA — The University System of Georgia became fully online this week, with online courses substituting for in-person instruction due to the coronavirus pandemic, system Chancellor Steve Wrigley said Wednesday.
Wrigley praised both the system’s IT staff for setting up the online system and university faculty for converting their courses to online.
“In highly unusual circumstances, people have worked very hard not to just deal with them but to overcome them,” Wrigley told members of the university system Board of Regents during a special called meeting by telephone to discuss the system’s response to the public health crisis.
Tristan Denley, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the system’s internet traffic nearly doubled on Monday when the online courses began.
“With that significant increase in traffic, we have monitored it closely to make sure students didn’t have any difficulty getting into the system,” he said. “It was very smooth.”
Gov. Brian Kemp, using emergency powers to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak granted him by the General Assembly two weeks ago ordered all of Georgia’s public colleges and universities, technical colleges and public schools closed until March 31, an order he later extended until April 24.
The university system has gone a step further by closing all of its campuses for the remainder of the spring semester.
Wrigley said most campuses have finished moving students out of their dorms, and the schools are working to issue refunds for services students have paid for but won’t be receiving.
On another front, the chancellor updated the regents on what the university system is doing to help the state’s public health and emergency management agencies respond to COVID-19.
On Tuesday, Kemp’s office announced state health officials are working with the university system and Emory University on ramping up coronavirus testing in Georgia with a goal of processing more than 3,000 test samples per day.
Wrigley thanked the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State University and Augusta University for participating in the project.
The chancellor said system campuses also are pitching in with supplies hospitals need to safely treat a growing number of coronavirus patients, including personal protective equipment (PPEs), which are in short supply at hospitals across the country because of the unprecedented demand prompted by the pandemic.
“We want to make sure our assets are deployed as effectively as possible,” Wrigley said.