(Jeff Siner/Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

The 2021-2022 academic school year has started at Johnson C Smith University and the administrators have made it a requirement for students to either be fully vaccinated or have some type of religious or medical exemption in order to be on campus.

Nadia Johnson, a senior at JCSU, said she is very hopeful students will be able to remain on campus this school year.

“This is my senior year, and I would not like to go back virtual completely,” Johnson told WBTV. “I’m hoping that everyone at the university will follow the protocol.”

“I got the vaccine because particularly because my mom is diabetic. Although none of us have had COVID-19, I did want to prevent that from happening and being immunocompromised, I just knew that possibly I would be able to pass it to her,” explained Johnson.

Jamonte Gray, a senior student-athlete at JCSU, said he too is vaccinated.

“What made me get the vaccine was just seeing my grandparents get it,” Gray explained.

While the majority of students at the HBCU are vaccinated against COVID-19, many Black and African American North Carolinians are still unvaccinated. According to data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), while Black or African American residents make up 34 percent of Mecklenburg County’s total population, the demographic group makes up just 23 percent of all those in the county who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Key’shaun Kilgore is one of the roughly 20 percent of students at JCSU who is not vaccinated against the coronavirus.

“I wasn’t for it. I didn’t get the vaccine because like, I see people getting the vaccine. I still see people catching COVID, so I feel like there wasn’t no point in me getting it,” said Kilgore.

Classes began at JCSU on August 16.