Students react to State Center Community College District COVID-19 vaccine mandate

CBS47 News

CENTRAL VALLEY, Calif. (KGPE) – In addition to a face requirement while indoors, vaccinations will soon be mandated too at community colleges within the State Center Community College District.

The district’s Board of Trustees voted 5-2 in favor of the vaccine mandate for students and employees on Monday night. It’s set to go into effect on Oct. 15, and there will be exemptions for sincerely held religious beliefs and certain medical conditions.

The colleges included are Fresno City College, Clovis Community College, Reedley College, Madera Community College, Madera Community College at Oakhurst, and the Career and Technology Center.

“Relieved, Thank God,” said Ashley Clark, a Clovis Unified student, in response to the mandate.

The meeting on Monday lasted several hours.

“Most important for us and what our job is as leaders here in our community is to listen to the sound advice from our medical experts,” said Annalisa Perea, the Board of Trustees president. “In the increase of positive cases we were seeing in our campuses, I knew we were falling short in terms of everything we were doing to protect the community and for the mandate for us really was the last resort.”

Dr. John Zweifler, a medical consultant with the Fresno County Department of Public Health, was at the meeting.

“What we’re seeing with the delta variant is just an explosion of cases in Fresno County, State of California, and around the country,” Zweifler said.

“In situations where you’re going to be in a high-risk situation, indoors, crowded, we have to use every mitigation possible.”

He said indoor classrooms are considered high-risk settings.

“In situations where we say it’s really important for our students to get together in crowded indoor classrooms, having a mask as well as a vaccine mandate makes all the sense in the world,” Zweifler said.

Board of Trustee Bobby Kahn voted no, but he said he’s not against the mandate. He said he wanted to give the chancellor authority to make the decision.

“I had a lot of trust in him that he would monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis and make the right call at the right time,” Kahn said.

The district is still discussing the implementation of the mandate and the disciplinary action should a student or employee refused to get vaccinated. But for some, it won’t be a problem.

“It makes me feel good and safe at school because I don’t want to get sick or catch anything,” said Alyssa Criado, a student at Clovis Community College.

And Zwefiler said more people getting vaccinated will help drive down the case rate.

“Unquestionably, more people getting vaccinated will reduce the rates of transmission of COVID generally and delta variant in particular,” Zweifler said.

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