With students at historically Black colleges returning to campus after a year of hybrid and remote learning, administrators hope greater access to COVID-19 vaccinations will bring about a traditional campus experience — in-person classes, rip-roaring homecomings and Black Greek life.
But interviews with top leaders from several top historically Black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, illustrate that some schools face significant challenges in avoiding major outbreaks. Although Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, Black leaders across the country have encountered both vaccination skepticism and accessibility issues trying to encourage higher inoculation rates.
The vast majority of HBCUs are in the South, where Black students were barred from attending majority-white colleges and where vaccination rates remain lower than the national average. Republican leaders in many of those states, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, have fought back against mask and vaccination mandates.
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