State Center Community College District Board of Trustees Passes Vaccination Mandate


The SCCCD Board of Trustees approved extending the date for students to comply with the vaccine mandate. Students now have until Nov. 15, 2021 to be fully vaccinated. Image courtesy: SCCCD website.

Effective Oct. 15, 2021, all employees, students, contractors, and visitors will be required to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to physically access any campus within the State Center Community College District. 

The SCCCD Board of Trustees passed a resolution in favor of the mandate on Aug. 23 during a special meeting on Zoom about COVID mitigation. 

“This is truly a consequential decision that the board faces today. Arguably one of the most consequential decisions that we will face,” SCCCD Chancellor, Doug Houston said. “I am proud and appreciative that the board has gone to such great efforts to ensure that this decision is discussed openly and publicly.” 

The board’s original COVID mitigation meeting was set for Friday Aug. 20. However, it was rescheduled for technical reasons after more than 700 people attempted to join, which was beyond the maximum participants allowed by Zoom. 

Of the seven board members, trustees Bobby Kahn and Richard Caglia voted no on passing the vaccination mandate. All other members voted yes. 

According to the resolution, those who fail or refuse to comply with vaccination requirements or other COVID-19 safety measures implemented may be disciplined. 

The resolution also states that there will be exemptions for those with sincerely held religious beliefs and medical conditions. 

During the meeting, Houston also provided a presentation about pandemic mitigation protocols.

Current mitigation measures at SCCCD campuses include:

  • Mandatory employee reporting of vaccination status
  • Requirement of refresher training for employees on COVID-19
  • Requirement of facial masking indoors for all employees and students, regardless of vaccination status 
  • Increase of social distancing 
  • Use of staggered schedules and remote work to reduce on-campus and workplace contact
  • Provide incentives to students to get vaccinated
  • Vaccine mandates for specific populations such as allied health students. 

The district’s goal, by increasing pandemic mitigation protocols, is to support campus and workplace safety, support regional efforts to reduce the COVID transmission to ease the burden on regional healthcare providers and protect individual rights of employees and students, according to the meeting agenda

Following the presentation, the district invited the public to comment on the current protocols and the decision regarding the vaccination mandate. 

Some of those who spoke include SCCCD campus presidents, including FCC’s Carole Goldsmith. She said FCC has had zero instances of students resisting to wear facial coverings on campus and that FCC’s $250 bookstore vaccination incentive is working to get students vaccinated.

Despite this, Goldsmith said she is strongly in favor of a vaccination mandate.

“I’ve heard some conversations about safety and whether or not it is part of our goal because it is not expressly stated in our SCCCD mission statement but it is certainly part of our college ethos,” she said. “We do take care of one another. That is why we have food pantries, clothes closets, medical and psychological services for our students and colleagues.” 

Prior to the meeting on Monday, the PDF of public comments was over 47 pages long with input from past and current SCCCD students, employees and other residents of Fresno County. 

While some were in support of the vaccination mandate and requirement of other safety guidelines such as COVID testing, others were against them.

Concerns about a vaccination mandate made in emails and during the meeting range from: infringing upon freedom of the unvaccinated, being a threat of unemployment to unvaccinated professors and eventually leading to “medical tyranny.”

Nancy Holland, faculty member of FCC’s business division, called in to say, “To require someone to take a vaccine stomps on the freedom of everyone. Just like a flu shot. It should be something that is an individual decision.” 

Holland also expressed her concern with the lack of alternatives to the vaccines mentioned in the SCCCD pandemic mitigation protocols presentation. 

Holland listed Remdesivir, Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin as some alternatives to treating COVID and added that her neighbor recovered from COVID after taking Ivermectin. 

Other comments argued that vaccinations are necessary in protecting SCCCD staff, students and their families from COVID, its variants and its long term effects. 

FCC English Instructor, Rebecca Benas, said that she contracted COVID in the summer of 2020 and has been suffering from its long term effects such as loss of smell, taste and body weakness since then. 

“COVID-19 is not just about transmission and death rates. There are major qualities of life issues at stake,” she said. “I don’t know if I will ever again smell a baby, flowers, my grandmother’s perfume or a meal before it burns. I don’t know if my hair will ever stop falling out by the handfuls.” 

In addition, Benas mentioned that during a medical emergency with a loved one, she witnessed that hospitals are not equipped to handle the large amount of COVID cases and other medical incidents simultaneously.

For these reasons, she supports the vaccination mandates and other safety guidelines in place at SCCCD campuses.  

This message was emailed to SCCCD students notifying them of the mandate.

More information regarding the mandate, its implementation and disciplinary actions is expected to be released soon.