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Vaccine mandates roll out at local community colleges, in sweeping federal order

As of Nov. 1, all students and staff on campuses in the Contra Costa Community College District will be required to show proof of full Covid-19 vaccination.

The resolution passed Wednesday impacts both staff and students at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill and Los Medanos College in Pittsburg.

The mandate applies to any student who attends at least one in-person class or is physically on campus or school facility for any other reason. Faculty and staff are expected to meet the vaccine requirement whether they teach on campus or remotely.

Exemptions or deferrals will be granted in specific situations, including a valid medical reason, disability, pregnancy or religious objection. Those who are exempted or deferred from the vaccine requirement will be subject to weekly testing.

Visitors will need to complete a health assessment before entering campus grounds and facilities, and visitors strongly encouraged to be vaccinated.

Chancellor Bryan Reece said the decision was made with “overwhelming support” students, faculty, professionals and managers.

He said:

“Covid-19 and its many variants will be with us for a while, so we must take prudent steps like this one so we can continue providing face-to-face instruction and services for our students while ensuring we have a safe place to learn and work for our students and staff.”

In the past 30 days, children and young adults make up the vast majority of positive cases in Contra Costa County, according to health department data as of Thursday.

County health officials reported 20 Covid-19 deaths in the past week, up from 15 in the week prior.

Contra Costa Health Sevi Age demographic chart of new Covid-19 cases in Contra Costa County, Calif. over the past 30 days, with data pulled Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021. (Graphic courtesy of Contra Costa Health Services)

Ohlone Community College in Fremont issued a similar mandate effective Sept. 30. The vaccine requirement at Ohlone applies to anyone on campus and extends to students and staff who participates in college services and district-related activities, on or off campus.

On a national level, President Joe Biden Thursday announced sweeping vaccine mandates for federal employees and contractors, workers at health care facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funds and for all employers with more than 100 workers.

In the White House press conference Thursday, Biden spoke directly to the more than quarter of the eligible population — aged 12 and older — who have yet to receive a first dose, noting how the unvaccinated “can cause a lot of damage.” In a frustrated tone, he said:

“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wearing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us.”

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