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Community colleges demand more be done to protect against COVID-19 on campus

Community college students head back to class in-person Friday, but some professors and staff say it's not safe.

News 12 Staff

Jan 20, 2022, 5:09 PM

Updated 910 days ago

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Community college students head back to class in-person Friday, but some professors and staff say it's not safe.
Education unions are demanding more COVID-19 protections.
"Each of these people goes home to a family, and we're looking to keep their families safe as well," says Dennis Bogusky, of Norwalk Community College.
The unions want Connecticut's 12 community colleges to require proof of vaccination along with mask-wearing. State universities ask for proof, but at community colleges, students and staff only have to attest they're vaccinated.
"To be blunt, I don't feel safe on campus," says Mike Spry, of Asnuntuck Community College.
Unions also say N95 masks were promised but haven't been delivered and want the option to teach remotely for the first two weeks back to school.
"It seems as if people are being given permission to telecommute, but I wasn't given a chance to talk about my situation," says Linda Stango, of Naugatuck Valley Community College.
Connecticut State Colleges and Universities spokesperson Leigh Appleby says, "The decision to begin our semester on-time was made with campus leaders in close consultation with public health partners and is responsive to our students, who have consistently requested that we do everything possible to offer in-person learning opportunities. Of course, health and safety of students and employees has been and will continue to be our top priority. To that end, all universities and colleges are continuing our vaccination-or-test and mask requirements, have N95 and KN95 masks currently available on all campuses, and are maintaining physical distancing. Further, the community colleges are operating this spring at a significantly reduced capacity with 20%-47% of their classes on ground which helps to limit the onsite population. By comparison, the state universities are operating with nearly 100 percent of their classes and services on ground and have nearly 8,000 students living on campus. Our students have made abundantly clear that they need in-person options, and we have proven over the past three semesters – in which we have seen virtually zero spread in academic settings – that we can do so safely. We look forward to a safe and productive semester.”
Community colleges are operating at less than half capacity, but some state lawmakers still aren't convinced.
"I'm just surprised, shocked, and heartbroken that we are having this conversation," says state Sen. Saud Anwar.


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