SBCC Trustees Discuss Return to In-Person Operations, Whether to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus crisis
the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees Thursday night explored proposed plans to resume operations on campus and a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement for students and employees before the fall semester.
Trustees and college officials discussed the topic of returning to campus services for about an hour, but members did not vote on the agenda item at a special board meeting that took place. ‘is held virtually. The matter will be brought before the SBCC Board of Directors at a future meeting.
“It’s an interesting discussion,” said Chairman of the Board, Peter Haslund. “I’m glad we have it and keep going.”
The board also debated a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all employees and students returning to campus, but postponed an official decision to learn more about the matter. The proposed policy will be presented to the SBCC Board of Directors at a future meeting.
“I’m comfortable discussing this further,” said SBCC trustee Marsha Croninger.
In Thursday’s remote meeting, SBCC Superintendent / President Utpal Goswami and college officials made a presentation on provisional plans for phasing in campus services over the summer and fall of 2021.
Amid the COVID-19 crisis, plans to reopen are being designed “with flexibility in mind,” Goswami said.
“Because of the experience and what we’ve observed, and because of how we impact our students, we have to come back to in-person operations in a modest way,” he said.
Gavin Newsom, Governor of California announced that the state’s color-coded reopening tier system is expected to end on June 15 if rates of COVID-19 cases remain low and vaccine supply is sufficient.
The SBCC is proposing to begin a gradual return to work in person starting June 15 at the CCSC’s main, Wake and Schott campuses. College officials said the exact return date – June 15 – was on schedule announced by the governor.
“At this point the question is, ‘Why are we coming back to campus? Very simple. Students need it, ”Goswami told the SBCC Board of Directors. “And why June 15th?” This is the date announced by the governor. How will we get back? We will negotiate, and that is why we have time by June 15 to negotiate whatever we want to negotiate.
Staff and faculty interested in returning sooner can do so, and they are advised to work with their supervisor to organize permission to return to campus, according to college officials.
The Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees and CCSC officials virtually meet for a special meeting on Thursday. (Screenshot via YouTube)
The SBCC is tentatively targeting a “mandatory” return to campus for all employees on August 16.
“While many professors will continue to teach remotely in the fall of 2021, many will have to meet obligations on campus,” the college said in a statement. declaration. “Employees should make arrangements for child care or other household needs for the fall so they can work from campus.”
The SBCC has adjusted its schedule of course offerings for spring 2021 in response to the global pandemic. In the fall of 2020, the CCSC organized the majority of its courses online, with a small percentage of courses being delivered face-to-face.
According to California Community College Chancellor’s Office, the state’s community colleges have “operated almost entirely remotely” amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Following the in-person Return to Services presentation, Board Vice President Kate Parker said there was “a lot to digest here. … Our people deserve the chance to digest what is here and also to make their suggestions. “
The SBCC Board of Directors heard approximately 40 minutes of live public commentary, and members of the public had up to three minutes to speak before discussing the two agenda items.
“Our return to face-to-face teaching is an urgent and extremely important issue for our students, and vaccinations are necessary for our safe return,” said Robbie Fischer, who teaches medical microbiology at SBCC. “It cannot be said often enough that vaccines are universally regarded as one of the very few most significant public health achievements in human history, and that COVID-19 is a public health disaster. unique in a generation. “
Christy Grant, Academic Advisor at CCSC, said “the pandemic is not over.”
People have spoken out for and against mandatory vaccinations for SBCC staff and students.
“For me, it’s a matter of personal choice,” said speaker Jill Rivera. “It comes down to a principle of my body, my choice.”
The COVID-19 vaccine gives people “the highest level of security to stop the spread of the virus and save lives,” said Gwyer Schuyler, an academic advisor at SBCC.
“I firmly believe that we must first and foremost protect the health of students and employees in the best possible way,” said Mr. Schuyler. “And the best possible way is to require vaccinations once they’re FDA (Food and drug administration) approved.”
The 14-page advisory document from the Chancellor’s Office of California Community College said that “widespread immunization will be the most effective way to keep the campus safe, but vaccine emergency and implementation issues. work have prevented a clear consensus on the desirability of such mandates. “
The document said, “The question of whether and how an immunization mandate should be implemented in a community college district or on a campus will require consideration of many local, college-specific, and individual factors.”
According to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, the vast majority of higher education institutions “strongly encourage” all members to be vaccinated, but it is likely that a “significant number” of staff and students will not. will not be vaccinated against COVID-19. .
The University of California and California State University announced in April that institutions will require all students, faculty and staff to be fully immunized against COVID-19 before returning to campuses in the fall, while waiting for ‘a vaccine has obtained formal approval from the FDA. and is sufficiently available.
CCSC administrator Veronica Gallardo has expressed concerns about mandatory vaccine requirements at the public community college.
“It is not our job to impose more fear and anxiety on people, telling them that they will not be able to access the fullness of the mission of Santa Barbara City College because we are going to mandate something” , said Gallardo. “Something that is a conversation between their health care provider, their families and themselves. As the administrator of the CCSC, I am very concerned that we are closing access to our mission.
SBCC administrator Jonathan Abboud mentioned that Santa Barbara County public health officials say the region must meet the threshold of 80% of residents vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19.
“The best way to reach that 80%, or one of the best, is to mandate vaccines in educational institutions, just like UC and CSU (State of California) do,” Abboud said. . “It’s obvious for me to do. This is the only way to have a healthy and safe campus. “