Santa Barbara City College is one out of 116 community colleges to demand a vaccine mandate in order to return to campus.
A recent resolution approved by the Board of Trustees on Aug. 5 states that its employees and students must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1, unless they have an approved exemption.
“It’s really hard to forecast what will happen with the virus,” said Acting Executive Director of Public Affairs and Communications Victor Bryant. “As we learn more we will adjust procedures and that’s our highest priority.”
The current campus protocols include face coverings for students and staff, daily surveys through the SBCC Healthy Roster and social distancing.
City College made getting vaccinated convenient and rewarding for students by offering on-site vaccination clinics and $100 in cash for providing proof of vaccination.
“We’ve had a great deal of success with vaccination clinics, incentives, and uploading vaccine requirements,” Bryant said.
Those who are not completely vaccinated or fail to fill out an exemption form will be banned from entering college grounds and must drop in-person classes or be administratively dismissed.
Individuals with an approved exemption are required to take weekly COVID-19 tests and wear N-95 masks on campus.
“We are still finalizing the procedures on the exemption form. It will be an automatic process like check-ins,” Bryant said.
Since Aug. 23, students and employees have been required to complete a daily “Healthy Roster” survey, answering questionnaires on phones or paper. Once completed, the individual receives a colored wristband showing they meet the requirements and are cleared to be on campus.
According to the educational publication EdSource, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office advocated for colleges across the state to require vaccine mandates, yet cannot enforce them to make this decision. Instead, it is left to the colleges’ own governing boards or community districts to make that ultimate decision.
The FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine allows the superintendent-president to amend the requirements for the school if needed.
According to the resolution, “The Interim Superintendent-President is authorized to direct a return to online for any in-person class or department where three or more students or employees test positive for COVID-19 within one week.”
If a large outbreak occurs, there is a possibility of the school returning to online classes.