Starting March 1, COVID testing optional for vaccinated students

Students+stroll+at+City+Colleges+East+Campus+on+Thursday%2C+Feb.+17+in+Santa+Barbara%2C+Calif.+All+students+returning+to+in-person+classes+must+be+tested+for+the+week+of+Feb.+22%2C+and+testing+will+be+optional+for+vaccinated+students+starting+March+1.+Unvaccinated+individuals+with+an+approved+exemption+will+continue+to+be+tested+weekly%2C+following+the+requirements+from+the+fall+2021+semester.

Rodrigo Hernandez

Students stroll at City College’s East Campus on Thursday, Feb. 17 in Santa Barbara, Calif. All students returning to in-person classes must be tested for the week of Feb. 22, and testing will be optional for vaccinated students starting March 1. Unvaccinated individuals with an approved exemption will continue to be tested weekly, following the requirements from the fall 2021 semester.

Rodrigo Hernandez, Editor-in-Chief

City College students returning to campus are required to be tested for COVID-19 only for the week of Feb. 22. As of Tuesday, March 1, testing will be optional for vaccinated students  — with weekly tests for individuals who are unvaccinated with an approved exemption.

The change in protocols was announced in a school-wide email from Interim Superintendent-President Kindred Murillo. The email cited data reflecting the end of the Omicron surge in Santa Barbara, and that the requirement of weekly testing is not currently recommended by the California Department of Public Health or Santa Barbara County Health Department as a means of prevention for the type of organization/environment.

We implemented the weekly testing requirement following the winter break during the Omicron surge as we felt it was the best thing to do for the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff returning to campus at that time. The last few weeks conditions in our area have improved significantly and weekly (or surveillance testing) testing is not currently recommended for school settings by County Public Health or the CDC,” Murillo said in a statement to The Channels.

“As such, we decided now was the time to scale back SBCC’s testing requirements and we will do so starting March 1. It is important to note that those with approved vaccination exemptions will continue to be required to test weekly to attend in-person classes or enter college buildings (as they were in the fall),” the interim superintendent-president said in the statement.  

Although testing will be optional for vaccinated students, it will be recommended when there is a risk of exposure or when someone is asymptomatic. Testing sites are available on the main campus at City College, as well as the Wake Campus, Schott Campus and the Earl Warren Showgrounds. Hours of operation are available on the college’s website. 

While the state and county lifted the universal indoor masking requirement on Feb. 16, students and employees will continue to wear face coverings indoors.

“SBCC’s KN95 or N95 mask requirement will remain in place for the time being as masking is still recommended in indoor settings and required in schools. We do not currently have a timeline for adjustment of it, but as conditions change we will update all students and employees,” Murillo said in an email to The Channels.