Central Oregon Community College announced Wednesday that it will be requiring some of its students and faculty members to be vaccinated against COVID-19, or have proof of a valid exemption, this fall.
The Bend community college will require vaccinations from students who live in its residence hall, as well as students and faculty who participate in clinical work at on- or off-campus clinics. That includes students and instructors in programs such as nursing and early childhood education.
“COCC will continue to strongly recommend all other COCC students and employees be fully COVID-19 vaccinated for the 2021-22 academic year,” the community college said in a news release. “COCC is committed to providing incentives for those who are fully vaccinated and will share more information about said incentives in the weeks ahead.”
COCC is the first community college in Oregon to announce any sort of vaccination requirement for the upcoming academic year. All of Oregon’s public universities have announced vaccine requirements for the fall.
COCC said it will communicate with students and employees in the coming weeks on how to show their vaccination status or request an exemption per Oregon law.
“This approach gives students plenty of time to get fully vaccinated ahead of Sept. 20, the first day of our fall term,” Alicia Moore, vice president of student affairs, said in a statement. “We’re also committed to providing our community with access to the COVID-19 vaccines.”
COCC has partnered with county health departments and other community organizations in the region to host pop-up vaccination clinics to college students, employees and their families this summer, the school said.
COCC said beginning this fall, when its residence hall reopens to students, the college will conduct weekly, mandatory COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated and not fully vaccinated students in its residence hall and students participating in close-contact intramural sports. The residence hall was closed during the 2020-21 school year and will be closed over the summer, according to the college.
The community college said it is also partnering with Oregon State University and the city of Bend to conduct COVID-19 sewer prevalence testing in its residence hall and fitness center.
“While the COVID-19 vaccinations are our most effective layer of protection against the coronavirus, the college will continue to pursue a multifaceted approach to our communities’ health and safety,” COCC President Laurie Chesley said in a statement. “These two policies are intended to work in tandem with one another to help end the pandemic in Central Oregon and help COCC students feel safe in returning to campus this fall.”