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Federal officials investigating access to Mankato study pods

December 22, 2021 GMT

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Federal official are investigating whether handicapped people can access Minnesota State University-Mankato’s new anti-COVID-19 study pods.

The university installed 100 pods using $1 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds. The pods resemble pay telephone booths and are designed to provide students with individual study spaces so they avoid catching the disease.

Minnesota Public Radio reported Tuesday that Nancy Fitzsimmons, a social work professor at the university, believes handicapped people can’t access the pods because they have to climb a step to enter them. She filed a federal complaint in September alleging the pods violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating.

University officials declined to comment but added four handicapped accessible pods around campus. These pods are essentially transparent rooms.

Fitzsimmons said that’s not enough. The pods were placed in out-of-the-way places, including the basement of a computer center and in an administration building, she said.