RICHMOND, Va. — A group of Virginia Commonwealth University students planned to brave chilly temperatures to send a message to school leadership on Wednesday.
“WalkoutVCU” scheduled to walk out of class at 11:30 a.m. to protest for hybrid classes and educate the public on their petition at Park Plaza.
Organizer Gian Tigreros said more than 600 people signed their petition within three days.
“We believe that a forced in-person option goes against the physical and mental health of many students. Immunocompromised students/faculty/staff are at risk with no option to learn remotely,” the petition read. “We believe Virginia Commonwealth University has the financial resources to provide this option for spring 2022.”
This is a personal issue for Tigreros, who had to stop taking their steroid medication to attend class.
“It lowers my immune system while I’m taking it, and then three weeks after. So, I had to stop taking it once school started and now, I’m a lot of shoulder pain,” they explained. “I have to go to therapy physical therapy which is very expensive.”
VCU Spokesperson Michael Porter said in an email on Tuesday that the university makes decisions about operational changes based on the guidance of its Public Health Response Team.
"The PHRT considers the prevalence of COVID 19 on campus and in the community, the availability of testing, available hospital space in the region and the availability of space on campus for student isolation and quarantine," Porter wrote.
VCU shared statistic that revealed an overwhelming majority of their community is vaccinated against the coronavirus.
"As of last month, 95.4% of VCU's student population and 97.2% of VCU's employee population reported vaccinations to the university," Porter stated.
However, Tigreros worried some students aren’t able to afford to miss work in the event of an illness. Offering online classes would allow students to avoid the highly contagious virus, they explained.
The group reached out to VCU administrators about their concerns, but said they haven’t heard back.