Chicago coronavirus: CSU takes extra steps to help student body disproportionately affected by COVID-19

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Coronavirus in Chicago has hit the city's black community especially hard, which is why Chicago State University, a majority African American school, is on a mission to help its students.

Junior Mustafina Smith knows she's one of the lucky ones.

"I would have to struggle the best way I could," she said.

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The 27-year-old communications major is among the dozens of students now able to transition to e-learning after the university began providing their students in need with loaner laptops and internet access.

"It's been really, extremely difficult, but Chicago State has been trying their best to work with us all, like giving us these laptops for those of us that don't have them," said Smith.

CSU is in the city's Roseland neighborhood, one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. With the transition to e-learning, many school officials said many of their 3,000 undergrad and graduate students aren't in the position to bridge the digital divide.

"Chicago Sate is in the heart of Chicago, we're on the South Side of Chicago in one of the hardest hit communities, Roseland, just like most predominantly black communities in this area, we're seeing the challenges firsthand," said Sabrina Land, communications director for CSU.

CSU got $2.1 million in emergency funding relief as part of the CARES Act, but it is through its foundation and some other private donations that the school has been able to launch a student emergency fund. Each student can get up to $500.

"It has been a lack of money, like, big time, because I still have, like, lots of bills to pay and stuff like that," said Ryonn Gloster, CSU student. "So me getting this money from the school is going to help tremendously."

"I'm a school nerd and I really want to go back to school, and I just really want the world to get back to normal after this point, " Smith said.
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