By Seth Ciancio
This Friday, January 7th, marks the deadline for all FRCC students and staff to fill out the Vaccine Testing Form, so it’s worth answering some questions about the new policy. Initially, the Colorado Community College system did not mandate the vaccine for the 2021-2022 school year, because they wanted to avoid creating “barriers to educational pursuits, and serve all learners”, but on October 7th of 2021 the Chancellor of the Colorado Community College system, Joe Garcia, announced that, “Employees and students who work on campus, attend in-person classes, access support services, or participate in other activities at our colleges or system office will have the choice to provide results from regular COVID-19 testing or, alternatively, provide evidence that they are fully vaccinated.” He cited a desire to provide for the health and safety of FRCC students and staff as a top priority, and that the best way to do that while maintaining in-person classes was to mandate testing or vaccination. So what’s actually being mandated? There are three options for FRCC students. You can either provide proof of full vaccination, commit to getting tested weekly, or stay off-campus and take only remote/online courses. You must fill out the Vaccine/Testing Form by Friday, and commit to one of those three options, or you will be dropped from all classes. This applies to all students, even those only taking remote classes, and there is no medical or religious exemption available.
While FRCC is not committing to providing free testing, there is already free community testing in all communities which FRCC serves, and FRCC hopes to have free testing available at all campuses at some point. If you commit to getting tested but fail to do so, you will not be allowed to attend in-person classes at any FRCC campus until you can provide a negative test result. If you test positive, you must complete the COVID questionnaire, and the Dean of Student Affairs office will guide you through what to do next. Your first testing results must be submitted by January 13, 2022, and your tests must not be more than 72 hours old at the time of uploading. At-home tests will not be accepted, as there is no way to verify the date when they were taken. Instructors are not expected to make accommodations for students who miss class as a result of a failure to adhere to their testing agreement. Students who have already had COVID are exempt from the testing requirement for 90 days from their first positive test. This is based on CDC guidance and may change if the CDC guidance is updated.
For those who are providing proof of vaccination, there are still a few things you might want to know. Like, what vaccines are accepted? Any vaccine officially approved for use by the WHO will be accepted by FRCC. For now, there are ten: Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Covaxin, Sinopharm, Sinovac, Covishield, and Covovax, are all approved for use by the WHO and are accepted by FRCC. For the Pfizer & Moderna vaccines which require two shots, you need to have both shots to stay enrolled in your classes, and you need to wait at least two weeks after your second shot to attend class. If you think FRCC might already have your vaccination data, check your email inbox. If you got an email asking for you to fill out the form, then they don’t have your information, and you need to fill it out. For now, there is no requirement to get the booster shot, although FRCC does recommend it. If you have a medical or religious exemption to vaccination, then you will either have to get tested weekly or agree to take only online/remote courses.
If you’re planning on taking remote or online courses, you still need to fill out the form. On the form, you will be asked what your registration status is for the spring semester. If you plan on taking only online or remote classes, select that option. This will keep you enrolled in your classes, and you will not be required to provide proof of vaccination or test weekly. If you don’t fill out the form by Friday, you will be dropped from all classes, even online ones.
There is a lot of controversy around vaccine or testing mandates, and if you have a complaint, you can take it up with the Dean of Student Affairs at whatever campus you attend. Who knows, maybe you’ll convince them to change the requirement. But for now, if you’re attending any school within the Colorado Community College System, there are only three options: testing, vaccination, or online classes. Regardless of which one you pick, you must fill out the Vaccine/Testing form by January 7th, or you’ll be dropped from all your classes. Hopefully, the policy will help to keep students and staff at FRCC safe by reducing the spread of COVID-19.