As schools around the country begin the fall semester, many historically Black colleges and universities are opting out of in-person classes.
A Word In Black analysis of 94 HBCUs found that 23 of them, or 24%, are fully remote this fall. A larger number of schools are testing out the hybrid model, which mixes both in-person and virtual classes. This accounts for 31 schools, or 33%. Only Shorter College in North Little Rock, Arkansas is trying fully in-person classes this semester.
The Black community makes up 9.8% of those fully vaccinated, according to the latest CDC data. As the community struggles to get vaccinated, the Delta variant is a particular concern, and HBCUs have to decide if they are going to start mandating vaccinations for people on campus.
As seen in the map below, many HBCUs are located in southern states, which are seeing a rise in coronavirus cases.
“We’ve been looking at what the courts have been doing,” Quinton Ross, president of Alabama State University, said to McClatchy about vaccine mandates. “We didn’t want to use vaccination as a deterrent. I think it could be a deterrent to some. But we strongly encourage it by us having [a vaccination site] on campus.”
Previous CDC guidance for institutes of higher education (IHEs) said campuses with fully vaccinated students, faculty and staff did not need to require masks or physical distancing.
However, with the uptick in cases, many places around the country have reinstated indoor mask mandates in an effort to stop the spread. On top of masking, many organizations started requiring regular testing for individuals who are not vaccinated.
“It’s really not doing a one-size-fits-all but really working closely with HBCUs to answer their specific questions and be helpful to them,” Cameron Webb, a senior policy adviser for equity with the White House COVID-19 Response Team, said to McClatchy.
On a more positive note, HBCUs are using money from the $2.6 billion they received from the American Rescue Plan Act to forgive student debt.
“We can relieve them of the debts, get them back into school, get them back into being a paying student, while helping them navigate the process of college,” South Carolina State’s acting president Alexander Conyers said to the Wall Street Journal.
Check out this interactive map that shows the type of classes at each school for the Fall 2021 semester (if the map isn’t loading properly, open it here):