District to mandate vaccines for employees

With one COVID vaccine now receiving full approval from the FDA, Rancho Santiago Community College District employees will soon need to be fully vaccinated to access campus. Officials say they are also considering a vaccine mandate for students in the future.  

Pfizer received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Aug. 23 for their COVID-19 vaccine, triggering a district-wide vaccine mandate that was approved earlier this month. Current district policy strongly encourages vaccinations for both employees and students, but doesn’t require it.

Though the district has not yet announced specifics such as compliance dates, the Board of Trustees approved a policy on Aug. 9 that would make vaccinations for COVID-19 a requirement for all employees on the condition that at least one of the vaccines had received full FDA approval. Before Aug. 23, all vaccines were approved for emergency use only.

The approved policy, BP 7325,  gives RSCCD Chancellor Marvin Martinez the power to create a plan for the safe reopening of campus, including a vaccine mandate for all employees who do not have a medical or religious exemption. 

Once the employee mandate goes into effect, the board may begin considerations for a similar requirement for students on campus. “Right now my top priority is keeping everyone safe, and the science shows vaccines are the way,” said Martinez. 

The district is working with the unions that represent faculty and classified staff to develop the administrative regulation that will contain details such as the compliance period, medical and religious exemptions, and weekly testing protocols  for those who are exempt. 

At this time, our concerns are maintaining a safe and healthy environment for our students, faculty, and staff while also ensuring that no faculty member experiences adverse effects of such a policy without due process and the ability to reach mutually agreeable accommodations,” said Morrie Barembaum, president of the Faculty Association of Rancho Santiago Community College District.

The president of the Classified Staff Employee Association did not respond to request for comment at time of writing.

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