Historically Black Colleges and Universities are not strangers to changing with the times. So, adjusting to the challenges that COVID-19 creates is just par for the course. Still, the physical and mental health and well being of the students, faculty and staff is always in the forefront.
The most recent COVID surge forced many campuses to pivot, just as they thought they were getting back on track. While students were leaving for winter break, colleges and universities began preparing for their return; with the possibility of the Omicron variant tagging along for the ride.
State mandates have made it difficult for campuses to create COVID policies. HBCU administrations have to keep their staff and students safe, while keeping within law. This is especially difficult in the south where vaccination numbers are low and infection rates are high.
Tuskegee University decided to open the Spring semester (January 6) virtually; moving to in-person and hybrid classes on January 31. Morgan State University made vaccination mandatory for all students and employees attending Spring semester classes. Masks are required on campus, as well. Bethune-Cookman University mandated masks, but not vaccines (the vaccines are strongly encouraged, though). In addition, they will be giving COVID tests to all students who live in campus housing.
In any case, it doesn’t look like COVID is going anywhere anytime soon. These pivots may become our new normal as new variants form. Wherever the school, whatever the policy, know that our universities are doing everything they can to provide a safe learning environment where our best and brightest can excel. Let’s just make sure that we are doing our part.
Mask up everyone.