The presidents of Massachusetts' community colleges are strongly urging their students to get vaccinated against COVID-19 but say there are no plans yet to mandate vaccinations.
In a statement Thursday, the presidents of the state's 15 community colleges urged students to get vaccinated as soon as they are able to do so, saying it is the best way to return to a normal campus life. However, they added that the vaccine should not be a barrier to students' access to their education.
"It is essential that we meet the needs of all of our students, who are often from the communities hit hardest by this pandemic and facing disproportionate access to the COVID-19 vaccine," the presidents wrote in a statement issued by the Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges.
"And now, it is more important than ever to prioritize equity, and creating additional barriers for our students would go against our critically important mission of open access for all."
Several Massachusetts colleges and universities have begun to mandate vaccinations before their students return to campus in the fall. Northeastern University was the first school in the state to issue a mandate, and others, such as Boston University, Emerson College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst followed suit.
The community college presidents said their schools were moving to have safe, on-campus learning in the fall, prompted by the growing number of vaccinations and continued coronavirus precautions.
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"As we have shown throughout this pandemic, campus planning will always be guided, first and foremost, by the health and safety of our entire college community," they wrote.