Surveys conducted by Napa Valley College may help guide a potential decision next month on requiring vaccination against the coronavirus.
The board of trustees for the two-year community college — where much of the curriculum continues to be taught remotely 18 months into the pandemic — is expected to discuss an inoculation requirement for students and staff at its Oct. 14 meeting, NVC spokesperson Holly Dawson said. Informing that debate will be the results of online surveys issued this month to students and employees to gauge their comfort level with increased in-person teaching, counseling and services.
The board’s discussion about a vaccination requirement may include considering whether to apply it to all NVC students or only those taking in-person courses, according to Dawson.
NVC’s student questionnaire asks whether they intend to take classes at NVC in the 2022 spring semester, and whether they have received a COVID-19 vaccine or plan to do so. The survey also allows students to rank their preferences for live instruction, remote learning, or a hybrid of the two.
In addition, survey takers can declare their likelihood of attending classes in person — depending on whether NVC requires vaccination or regular virus testing to enter campus, or simply enforces a mask requirement already in effect for indoor areas. Students also are asked whether they would go to the college library or receive tutoring or counseling in person, based on what safety rules are in place.
The state’s two four-year higher education networks, the University of California and California State University, in July announced they would require all on-campus students, faculty and employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before the start of the academic year. Those moves came shortly after California’s lifting of many group-size and other restrictions June 15, but also as a more virulent Delta variant of the virus was starting to drive the largest surge of infections since last winter.
As of earlier this month, however, only 34 of the state’s 75 community college districts had imposed similar mandates, according to Capital Public Radio.
At NVC, safety rules approved in July require faculty and students, whether vaccinated or not, to wear masks indoors except for certain activities and studies where face coverings are impractical. Vaccination is required to take part in some sporting and musical activities for which masks would be a hindrance.
College President and Superintendent Ron Kraft called the masking rule a way to balance safety and access to education while significant numbers of people have not yet received a vaccine, particularly after the loss of months of face-to-face instruction time during the pandemic.
“Overarchingly, we were looking at student access,” he told trustees before their approval of the policy. “It’s critical that we don’t close the pipeline and that students can continue to go down their pipeline to progress. To me, that is paramount.”
Since California colleges and schools began shutting down in March 2020 early in the spread of COVID-19, NVC has taken a measured path back toward a fully in-person experience, even as the Napa school district has shifted back to a full-time on-campus program for most local children and teenagers. After the college offered a mostly online curriculum in 2020-21, Sara Parker, assistant superintendent for academic affairs, announced it would offer about 30% of this year’s courses in person, including in health-care fields requiring laboratories or hands-on training.
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