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As students gear up to attend schools and universities across the U.S., growing COVID-19 concerns still loom, especially as the Delta Variant continues to sweep across the country. Historically Black Colleges and universities are struggling with mandating COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming academic year as the coronavirus disproportionately affects the Black community at higher rates.

According to The COVID Race Tracker, “Nationwide, Black people have died at 1.4 times the rate of white people.”

Professors at Spelman College are now refusing to teach in-person classes due to COVID-19 concerns, The Hill reported.

Professors at the Historically Black Women’s College sent out a message to students stating that they would not return to the classroom until the institution gave “clear and enforceable” safety guidelines.

The college issued a school-wide vaccination notice in addition to requiring that their students and faculty wear face masks while walking on campus grounds, but the staff says this is simply not enough. The predominately women-led faculty argued that Spelman has not clearly planned out how they will properly enforce or keep track of vaccinated students and professors. The announcement also adds that unvaccinated students and faculty are required to receive a negative COVID test at least once every seven days.

Former Surgeon General Jerome Adams says he’s “deeply concerned” about students returning to school in the fall to potentially face the “contagious Delta Variant.” “The good news is we have more PPE, more testing, more knowledge about the virus, and most importantly, vaccinations,” he added. “The bad news is, many black communities for a variety of reasons are still lagging in terms of vaccination rates, so HBCUs could be at higher risk for outbreaks.”

Vaccination rates among the Black community still remain alarmingly low. Black individuals only make up 9.1% of fully vaccinated Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Spelman isn’t the only HBCU school facing similar challenges.

Students at North Carolina A&T can not be required to receive the vaccine by law because COVID has not been listed under the state’s “legally required” immunizations. The college will instead implement a zero-tolerance policy for students refusing to show proof of their COVID status. Consequences will result in students potentially losing access to their dorm rooms or having their meal plans discontinued, McClatchy DC notes.

So far Howard and Delaware State University in Dover are among the HBCUs requiring for students to be fully vaccinated come fall. While Howard has mandated the vaccine for students, faculty, and staff. DSU is requiring students to show proof of vaccination. This mandate has not yet been extended to the school’s faculty.

At press time, Spelman college has canceled in-person classes and “moved online,” Atlanta Voice reported.

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