Not Like Other Community Colleges

Mt. SAC is not on the list of nine community colleges mandating vaccinations for all


Jianping Cao

Near the rear of the administration building a sign encouraging masking greets students on Sept. 7.

On Sept. 1, the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees voted for mandatory vaccinations for all staff members and students who attend in-person classes or use campus facilities at the district’s nine colleges: East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles City College, Los Angeles Harbor College, Los Angeles Mission College, Los Angeles Pierce College, Los Angeles Southwest College, L.A. Trade-Tech College, Los Angeles Valley College and West Los Angeles College.

The resolution as revised and approved:
As a condition of employment and a condition to physically accessing any District building, classroom, library, gymnasium, facility, or other indoor setting, all District employees shall present proof that they have been fully vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID- 19) unless exempt for medical or religious reasons.

As a condition to physically accessing any District building, classroom, library, gymnasium, facility, or other indoor setting, all District students shall present proof that they have been fully vaccinated against the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) unless exempt for medical or religious reasons.
Employees and students who are granted a medical or religious exemption shall undergo regular testing for COVID-19 infection and shall produce proof of negative COVID-19 test results.

Mt. SAC, however, does not have a vaccine mandate. It has opted for a testing alternative for individuals who are not vaccinated.

LACCD is not the first to take action. The University of California and California State University systems have already mandated vaccinations for students and faculty members, and some private colleges statewide have also implemented vaccine mandates of their own.

Others like Cabrillo College required all students and staff on campus to be fully vaccinated in August. The San Diego Community College District, home to three colleges, requires all students attending in-person classes to be vaccinated, according to EDSource.

This passed and updated community college mandate requires all faculty, staff and students to have COVID-19 vaccination if they come to the campus to work or study in-person classes.

“The new policy passed 7 to 1 with trustee Ernest Moreno voting no,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

While LACCD’s mandate allows exemptions for when an individual has special medical or religious reasons, Individuals are still required to get tested at least once a week.

Mt. SAC started a broader return to in-person classes for the Fall 2021 Semester and have taken a series of actions to protect the faculty, staff and students on campus.

This includes a protocol of weekly testing starting Sept. 7 for individuals who do not get vaccinated. Everyone on campus is required to wear masks indoors and further instructions regarding Cleared4 were emailed from President William T. Scroggins.

The risk of being infected with coronavirus or its variants is still a concern, with positive COVID-19 cases on campus. Weekly reports of positive cases on campus are published on the COVID-19 Dashboard by Mt. SAC. For the week of Aug. 29, the dashboard said there were 21 students and three employees with new positive cases on campus.

“I can say that, like many faculty, I am dismayed that backup plans were not made in preparation for a possible spike of infections in our community,” one biological science professor said. “It is stating the obvious to point out that our classrooms and labs are potential sites in spread, especially at normal capacity, and the delay in implementation of vaccination verification, testing, and contact tracing protocols is worrisome.”

Some faculty members and students are concerned about how to protect themselves when they find out people on campus test positive.

One interpersonal speech professor said he was a little bit concerned about the positive cases, because he has no way of knowing his students’ vaccination status and has not asked them due to privacy reasons.

“The college has taken many protective actions, so the situation is getting better, but I am still concerned if any students around us tested COVID-19 positive,” 19-year-old psychology major Adetola Irekiigbe said. “I heard positive cases from other students, and I didn’t know to check the COVID-19 Dashboard.”

Some students think the campus is safe, and don’t like to wear a mask on the campus.

“It is the first year for me to attend Mt. SAC,” an 18-year-old female health service major said, “I am young and not afraid of the pandemic, so I haven’t taken the Covid-19 vaccination. I take the weekly testing option and don’t like to wear a mask.”

Nevertheless, some faculty questioned why Mt. SAC didn’t participate in the group of the other nine community colleges.

“Big stories in the news yesterday about CA community colleges – that the LACCD system (which does not include Mt. SAC) has approved requiring vaccinations (removing testing alternatives except for medical or religious exemptions),” one faculty member said.

Mt. SAC has kept its testing alternative and has set up five testing stations. The third testing station, on the building 13’s south walkway (central campus, north of Equity center) had staff busy taking nasal COVID-19 testing for the walk-in students on Sept. 7. This marked the first day of the COVID-19 testing requirements for everyone on campus. According to staff, it takes one or two days to receive the result of the test. Five testing stations have been set up around the campus.

The LACCD released, “students continue to be eligible to receive up to $150 in incentives from the Foundation for the Los Angeles Community Colleges to get vaccinated thanks to a generous grant donated by the Kaiser Permanente Foundation.”

“‘Nothing is more effective [at] keeping people safe than the vaccine,’ the [district] trustee Steven Veres said,” LA Times reported.