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Education

San Diego Community Colleges To Require Vaccinations

A San Diego Mesa College building is shown, May 16, 2018.
Megan Burks
A San Diego Mesa College building is shown, May 16, 2018.

The San Diego Community College District will increase its on-campus and hybrid classes to at least 22% this fall, and all students and employees who are on-site will be required to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday.

The vaccination requirement comes on the assumption that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully authorizes one or more of the vaccines. Vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson have been given under emergency use authorization for months.

Exceptions to the district's policy may be granted on medical and religious grounds.

Chancellor Constance Carroll said the vaccine requirement follows input from students and employee groups. Surveys of students and employees conducted during the current spring semester showed most supported a vaccine requirement.

"Because these decisions affect many, many people, the San Diego Community College District has been deliberate and methodical in its approach," Carroll said. "We have been conducting surveys of employees and students in order to understand how our internal communities view this important decision and providing participatory governance groups opportunities to make recommendations.

"We appreciate your patience and understanding as we try to get this right," she concluded.

According to surveys, 85% of employees and 83% of students reported being fully vaccinated or planned to get vaccinated. To assist, all four of SDCCD's colleges are making plans to provide vaccinations either on-site or with a partner organization nearby.

The district is developing a process to verify each individual's vaccination status before they arrive on campus. Students and/or employees who do not wish to be vaccinated due to religious or medical reasons will be able to request an exemption and the SDCCD will provide appropriate reasonable accommodations.

Campuses have been closed since March 2020 to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Starting July 1, the district will begin a gradual reopening. Carroll said by fall, the goal is to have many more classes and operations provided in- person, and to have the entire district reopened for in-person instruction and operations by spring 2022.

In anticipation, the district has taken steps to ensure a safe environment, including the installation of central air filtration meeting MERV 13 standards in all buildings and additional cleaning in high-traffic areas.

Fall classes begin Aug. 23 at San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges and Sept. 7 at the San Diego College of Continuing Education.