CUNY students return to campus as COVID mandate anxiety high

Students and staff at the City University of New York returned to campus Wednesday for the first time in nearly 17 months. The normally exciting start to the academic year had many filled with anxiety over COVID-19 and related mandates.

Everyone at CUNY's 25 campuses was required to wear a mask and get tested regularly if not vaccinated. On the eve of the start of the fall semester, a coalition of educators held a protest calling for the continuation of remote instruction, but classes were scheduled to resume as planned.

 The lines to get vaccinated are long again, and the timing was no coincidence.

"I wanted to go back to school and not be worried about getting sick," said Justin Angel Morales, 12, after getting his first shot in the Bronx Tuesday.  "And the $100 is a friendly reminder to do it as well."

RELATED: CUNY faculty protest reopening amid delta variant surge

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With $100 extra bucks in his pocket, Morales was among the thousands of New York City public school students geared up to head back to classrooms in a few weeks. It's the first time in well over a year that full-time in-person learning would take place. 

"Priority number one- we get children back to school and protect the environment so they can learn, and everyone is safe," said Gov. Kathy Hochul in her first address as governor Tuesday.

RELATED: Gov. Hochul announces COVID-19 pandemic mandates for schools

Hochul called on state health officials to impose a universal mask mandate in public and private schools and said she wants to institute a vaccine mandate for all school employees. 

Hochul promised to provide a series of more concise guidelines later this week.