Join our discussion to defeat the spread against COVID-19, Passaic County Community College faced a long uphill battle like many schools nationwide to find the best resources for students and teachers to achieve a more safe and united learning experience.
By Jenny Hernandez
March 2020, a place in time that seems so far yet so clear in the eyes of our students and staff who can recall the last days on campus before lockdown. While news reports and rising cases of Covid-19 brought more fear that the break would extend beyond the estimated 2 weeks, the unforeseen future had much bigger plans.
Two years later, we continue to rebuild and find ways to our old normal realizing that the path to do so was to help one another find that strength to trust in the science that would carry us to the potential defeat of Covid-19. Vaccines were being produced and soon distributed to many on the front lines. January 2021, many asked questions on the safety of vaccines and the real effect it can have on for us in the future. Passaic Community College took the initiative to move forward with a program to encourage our students and staff to get vaccinated and if you are a current student roaming the halls of PCCC you truly know the wonders of reaching this point of time. I sat down to discuss the program over Spring Break with our wonderful school president, Dr. Steven M. Rose, who walked down memory lane from early pre-Covid to current times still seeking hope in a life so far forgotten.
As we sat down, we focused on vaccines and its impact so far. PCCC runs a program designed to encourage the community to get vaccinated to lessen the spread and effects of Covid.
Dr. Rose explained that the idea to support vaccination stemmed early on because of the negative impact he felt students experienced such as missing out on normal everyday school days and events such as graduation.
In retrospect, many others faced unfortunate realities of losing loved ones, dealing with jobs or the loss of employment and even getting sick themselves from the unpredictable virus.
PCCC’s program has reached a total of 4,000 reported students so far and continues to spread awareness of the myths and truths that some would question in contrast to the vaccines and what they have done to help. Another incentive was to offer gifts of money or laptops in return for receiving the vaccine. While locations for testing and vaccines were piling up nationwide, PCCC partnered with local departments that continue to help to this day.
Along with this, one can find support on campus from PCCC alumni who serve as ambassadors to educate students on the vaccines and where to go to get vaccinated.
The resources gained from this program has helped the school go on with the things we know today— the joy of walking into a classroom with no masks and being able to socialize as described by one of the programs ambassadors, Ricardo Inoa, who recalls missing events such as his final year of his high school experience having graduated in 2020. Inoa explained that as a biology student now transferred, being a part of the program is his chance to help others learn and make choices that can help others who are more likely to suffer from the virus while finding consolation in being able to walk around and see the faces and smiles behind the masks.