El Camino College doesn’t have a vaccination mandate for students at this time

El Camino College’s Board of Trustees has not decided if the college will have plans to start a student vaccination mandate.

As for the University of California (UC) campuses, the system is planning to have a vaccine mandate for the fall 2021 semester, while the California State University (CSU) system are continuing to plan their own vaccination mandate.

With El Camino College (ECC) reopening on July 19, an increase in on campus interactions and transmission of COVID-19 could occur, regardless if not all students are returning to campus.

About 20% of classes at ECC, mostly lab classes, will be face-to-face on campus during the fall 2021 semester, but officials have not yet determined how many ECC staff and faculty will return to campus, Jacquelyn Sims, interim vice president of academic affairs, said in an email.

Jane Miyashiro, vice president of human resources, tells the Union that although she doesn’t know the exact number of staff returning as well, depending on how much contact certain staff have with students, those who are returning this fall will begin the process of going back to a campus work schedule.

“With more and more students being present on our campus, we need to ensure that we have more support services available to them as well and that includes staff or classified staff making sure they are coming back to be there ready to help our students, but more importantly is to really start preparing for our eventual full campus reopening, back to our normal schedules,” Miyashiro said.

Universities heading back to the on campus schedule are deciding whether or not institutions will mandate students to get vaccinated if they want to return to campus.

Deborah Herzik, nurse practitioner for ECC, is unsure if a mandate on vaccinations will even be able to happen.

“My expertise lies in the Health Office of Orders for the Los Angeles County and although I would love to see a mandate happen, I don’t see it happening,” Herzik said.

Music major Melody Ramirez, 19, said that the school she is transferring to, California State University, Los Angeles is requiring vaccinations in order to attend classes in-person.

Former ECC president Dena Maloney, who is now replaced by Dr. Brenda Thames since July 1, said that from what she knew, the ECC Board of Trustees has not yet decided if vaccinations will be a requirement, but the California Community College Chancellor’s Office in Sacramento issued some guidance to the college district on how each college has the option to mandate vaccines.

“The chancellor’s office guidance is clear that the decision [of] whether or not a mandated vaccine [effort happens] is really up to the locally elected board,” Maloney told The Union.

Over the past few months, CSU and UC have been planning on creating a vaccine mandate in order for individuals to get on their specific campuses.

According to a CSU press release, the CSU system joined the UCs on April 22 to draft a policy that requires students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated from COVID-19 to be on campus. This policy is effective fall 2021, or when vaccines reach general-use approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) , whichever comes later.

Over the past few months, UC have made some progress in creating this vaccine mandate.

On July 15, all staff and students that are to be on a UC campus must be vaccinated and show proof of vaccination two weeks before the fall 2021 semester, according to the University of California policy.

The UC is also making this mandate with the knowledge that individuals must get the current vaccination even though they are under emergency use and are not authorized for general use.

“There has been a lot of thought in general about how vaccines can help us stay safe but there’s not a consensus on mandating them because even at CSU’s and UC’s, their requirement is that this is going into effect when the vaccinations are no longer under emergency use authorization because the FDA has not yet approved the vaccinations for general use,” Maloney told The Union.

According to USAFacts, a website that tracks the number of individuals vaccinated in the U.S and each state, 51% of Californians are completely vaccinated as of July 18, even though vaccines are not approved for general use.

“We want to give students and folks enough time to get the vaccine and to plan for it. The vaccines are pretty much available,” Director of Public Affairs for the CSU Chancellor’s Office Toni Molle told The Union.

The CSU will be meeting with the California State Student Association, the CSU Academic Senate and labor unions to discuss pre-arrangements and details of the policy, according to the press release.

“In the meantime, what we’re doing to get students and folks who want to come to the campus ready is strongly encouraging all members of our respective communities to receive the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as it’s available so that they’re able to come to campus once we’re ready to go,” Molle said.

ECC nursing major Stephenie Hughes, 20, got her vaccine as early as she could and said that the CSUs and UCs’ upcoming policy is “important” as these schools have thousands of attendees.

“Being in such close proximity, sharing dorms, sharing classrooms, sharing restrooms, [getting] the vaccine is mandatory,” Hughes said.

Even though ECC is encouraging everyone to be vaccinated, the CSU system knows that certain people might not get the vaccination and implemented two exemptions that students and employees can seek to not take the vaccine for medical or religious reasons.

“They know they are going to have students that don’t want to get the vaccine and they are trying to keep those students from leaving,” Hughes said.

ECC pre-engineering, electronics and computer hardware technology major Moises Santander, 20, said that the UC’s and CSU’s should be “careful” on requiring vaccination from people attending the schools.

“They might want to potentially avoid lawsuits because with requiring students to be vaccinated it might be trespassing some students’ religious or civil rights,” Santander said.

Even though some people are worried about getting COVID-19 vaccines due to how new they are, Santander still encourages students to get vaccinated from COVID-19.

“I could kind of understand those who are skeptical about it and that’s kind of the reason why I didn’t want to get the Pfizer or Moderna actually. That’s why I wanted to get Johnson & Johnson instead,” Santander said.