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October 22, 2021

Gavilan College mulling Covid-19 vaccination mandate

Board approves resolution to begin developing policy

Gavilan College is looking to require all students and employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 as in-person classes resume in the near future.

At its first public meeting under the same roof since March 2020, the college’s Board of Trustees on July 13 voted unanimously in favor of a resolution that everyone present at the college’s various facilities be fully inoculated.

Further refinement of a policy will be presented to the board in August, and possibly take effect later this year.

Superintendent/President Kathleen Rose said the resolution starts the process to come up with a policy. How the college will track vaccinations is something that will take time to develop, she noted.

Such a policy would also include accommodations for those unable to receive the vaccination due to a medical condition or religious belief, Rose said.

Trustee Jeanie Wallace said it’s the college’s responsibility to provide a safe environment for students and faculty.

“When you’re teaching in the classroom, you want to provide services to all the students that are in the room, but you don’t want to feel like they’re threatening your survival,” she said. “We have an obligation to protect all of our employees and students from exposure.”

Vaccination policies are being developed across the various college systems in the state.

In a May letter, Marc LeForestier, general counsel for California Community Colleges, said colleges have the authority to impose a vaccine requirement, citing various state laws and court cases.

“We are aware of no California law that is inconsistent with community college districts having authority over the vaccination of their campus populations,” he wrote.

The California State University plans to mandate vaccinations only after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration fully approves at least one of the vaccines. Pfizer and Moderna have applied for full approval with the FDA after receiving an emergency use authorization in late 2020. The process is expected to take months.

The University of California, meanwhile, announced July 15 that all students and faculty must be vaccinated against Covid-19 prior to returning to its campuses in the fall.

Many Gavilan employees have been returning to campus in recent weeks.

Management employees returned full-time to campus on July 1, and professional staff returned in staggered shifts.

Beginning Aug. 2, Student Services will offer on-campus appointments on Tuesdays through Thursdays. 

On Aug. 23, all professional support staff are expected to return to campus full-time.

The Fall semester begins Aug. 23, with the majority of classes taking place online. The college is tentatively planning for a full return in the spring.

The July 13 board meeting was held in a hybrid format in a classroom at the college’s Gilroy campus, where attendees could participate online or in-person. Public attendance was limited to 12.

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