As students head back to campus, colleges are faced with decisions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Paul Quinn College is a private institution not bound to Governor Greg Abbott’s block on mask mandates.
President Michael Sorrell talked to NBC 5 about the decision to require both vaccines and masks for all students on campus.
We also spoke to student Lucia Breault-Evans, a junior who told us the rules in place at Paul Quinn College make her feel more secure.
“In some ways, it’s kind of surreal because there has been so much change on campus compared to how it was when we left,” she said. “The way I see it is the school really cares about me as a student, as a person. My livelihood is more important than their financial status.”
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Were they not in place, Breault-Evans said she’d have doubts about her decision to live and study on campus.
On the first day of class, President Michael Sorrell said he had mixed feelings.
“Being charged with caring for other people’s children during a global pandemic that people can’t get a great handle on, that’s pretty heavy stuff. So, I am nervous. I’m excited,” said Sorrell.
Almost immediately last year Dr. Sorrell said the college started thinking of what they’d do when school reopened. Ultimately, they landed on a decision they felt was best for the safety of Paul Quinn students and staff.
“We are requiring students to have vaccines. We’re requiring them to wear masks,” he said. “We didn’t think it was anything particularly controversial because the science was very clear on these things.”
President Sorrell is aware his decision might draw criticism but vows to do what’s best for his students. In fact, in addition to vaccines, students will be tested every two weeks on a rotating basis.
“So that will give us a really good idea of whether or not we’re seeing cases develop on the campus,” he said. “If I’m going to be wrong, if we are going to be wrong it’s going to erring on the side of caution and not being cavalier with the lives and health of faculty, the students, the staff,” said Sorrell.
Some 200 students are expected to study in person this academic year. For those who choose not to vaccinate, online courses are available.
According to UT Southwestern Medical Center, COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by 87% over the last two weeks and are expected to dramatically increase over the next several weeks.
UT Southwestern's state analysis and forecast shows that COVID-19 hospital admissions are on the rise for all age groups, but the fastest growing is currently the 18-49 age group.