Required weekly screening also planned this fall for some students not fully vaccinated
Since January, COCC has strongly recommended that students and employees receive the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they were able. The college said it took this position based on COVID-19 vaccination availability and prioritization in the early months of the year.
As access to the vaccines expanded and data continued to confirm the vaccines’ safety and efficacy, COCC’s president, Dr. Laurie Chesley, requested updates to the college’s vaccination policy. The following updates were developed and recommended by the college’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing subcommittees, and accepted last week by Dr. Chesley.
Beginning in fall term, COCC will require COVID-19 vaccination of the following populations:
- All Wickiup Residence Hall students.
- All students and clinical faculty members in cases where students’ instruction and successful program completion is dependent upon their participation in clinical hours at on- or off-campus clinics and/or close contact with patients and/or clients. These programs include, but are not limited to: dental assisting, early childhood education, emergency medical technician, massage therapy, medical assisting, nursing, nursing assistant, paramedicine, pharmacy technician and veterinary technician. Other academic programs may be required to participate, and the college will update this list as necessary.
Per Oregon state law, individuals will be able to request an exemption.
COCC will continue to strongly recommend all other COCC students and employees be fully COVID-19 vaccinated for the 2021-22 academic year. COCC is committed to providing incentives for those who are fully vaccinated and will share more information about said incentives in the weeks ahead.
Also in the coming weeks, COCC will communicate with students and employees how to attest their COVID-19 vaccination status and how to request an exemption per Oregon state law.
“This approach gives students plenty of time to get fully vaccinated ahead of September 20, the first day of our fall term,” explained Alicia Moore, vice president of student affairs. “We’re also committed to providing our community with access to the COVID-19 vaccines.”
At its latest on-campus pop-up vaccination clinic on June 8, in partnership with Deschutes County Health and Oregon State University-Cascades, COCC nursing students administered 264 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The college is partnering with Central Oregon county health departments and community organizations to bring pop-up vaccination clinics to students, employees and their families throughout the summer.
Beginning in fall term, the college will conduct required, weekly COVID-19 screening tests for unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated students living in Wickiup Residence Hall or participating in close-contact intramural sports. The college will also conduct just-in-time screening tests ahead of all official COCC vehicle/van usage, including but not limited to field trips, field labs, student club offsite meetings and employee group travel.
Per the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fully vaccinated, asymptomatic individuals who can provide proof of vaccination status (vaccination card or photo of both front/back of card) will be exempt from the college’s systemic screenings and just-in-time testing strategies.
COCC is also partnering with Oregon State University and the city of Bend to conduct sewer prevalence testing in the Wickiup Residence Hall and Mazama gym and fitness center. COCC will continue to co-host free COVID-19 drive-thru testing clinics on its campuses, including June 29 at COCC Redmond and July 1 at COCC Bend, with more to be announced throughout the summer and fall.
“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,” said Dr. Chesley. “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.”
The college’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing policies are subject to change according to evolving federal and state guidance. COCC will also review the policies ahead of each academic term and whenever relevant guidance changes.
Registration is now open for COCC’s fall term. Sunday, Sept. 12 is the admissions application deadline and fall term begins Monday, Sept. 20.