(WWLP) – The Massachusetts Community College Council, which represents the faculty and professional staff at the state’s 15 community colleges, is advocating for the first two weeks of the spring semester be conducted remotely to maintain public safety during the current surge in COVID-19 cases.

The union sent a letter to all 15 community college presidents requesting the move. They argue that bringing students and faculty back on-time will inevitably cause learning disruptions due to a spike in cases on campuses.

The Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges sent the following statement to 22News:

“The Massachusetts Community Colleges have responded to a request by the MCCC Faculty/Professional Staff Union for all 15 community colleges to begin face-to-face classes for the 2022 Spring semester in a remote modality with limited exceptions and to further reduce staffing levels for student-facing offices. The Massachusetts Community Colleges note that the availability of vaccines, testing, PPE and other health and safety protocols currently in place at community colleges do not support the union’s last-minute request for classes to shift to remote learning or to further reduce in-person student-facing services on a systemwide basis.

Massachusetts Community Colleges are offering a range of learning options, from fully online to in-person, and have implemented a vaccine requirement for all employees and any student accessing in-person classes or services. Students who are returning in-person are prepared to begin their courses as soon as next week. In addition to the safety protocols in place, to avoid creating equity and access challenges for our students, the community colleges are not planning a systemwide shift of in-person courses to remote learning. The Community Colleges continue to consult with public health and medical experts on ensuring our college campuses are safe and healthy for students, faculty and staff and look forward to welcoming our students to back to campus in the coming weeks.”

Nate Mackinnon, Executive Director

State public health officials reported 36 new confirmed deaths and 18,721 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts on Thursday.