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State leaders unmoved by college outrage over lax Covid rules

State leaders unmoved by college outrage over lax Covid rules


Daniel Payne
October 10, 2021
Kirstyn Katherine Ahuero, a 20-year-old Texas A&M student from Fort Worth, died on Sept. 8 from complications related to Covid-19.
A few days later, about 50 A&M students gathered on campus to read her obituary out loud: she studied biomedical science, volunteered for the National Suicide Hotline, aspired to be a psychiatric nurse and left behind parents, siblings, grandparents and great grandparents. Then, students rallied for stricter protections against Covid-19 on a campus where vaccines are optional and students rarely wear masks in classes, according to three students involved with the protests.
Their protest is one of many taking place on campuses across the country as the political fault line over Covid protocols that has cleaved red and blue states extends to colleges and universities, with some enacting strict virus protections more in line with CDC guidance — and others remaining lax. Thousands of students and educators are pleading with college, state and federal leaders for tighter Covid-19 safety measures in response to campus deaths, widespread outbreaks and growing fears of both.
“Nobody else has to die,” Neo Koite, who organized the protest after Ahuero’s death and met with campus administrators about Covid-19 safety measures, said in an interview.
Colleges in states like California, Maryland and Virginia have mandated the vaccine, sometimes threatening to take internet access or student housing from the unvaccinated — and occasionally booting them from the rolls altogether. But other states, like Texas, Georgia and Tennessee, have outlawed or discouraged vaccine mandates or universal mask-wearing, both on and off campus. Pleas from campuses for more protections continue to escalate as the semester grinds on, forcing educators and students to amp up their calls for action.
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