By: Iman Palm and Julia Terbeche
The California State University and University of California systems have announced plans to require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated in order to return to in-person instruction for the fall 2021 semester.
This requirement is dependent on full approval of the COVID-19 vaccines by the Food and Drug Administration as they only have emergency use authorization at this time.
Long Beach State President Jane Close Conoley confirmed this information in a campus-wide email Thursday, maintaining that all campus-goers this fall must show proof of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine “as a condition for participating in on-campus instruction and/or co-curricular activities or accessing campus facilities.”
“Earlier today, the California State University and the University of California announced our joint intent to require students, faculty and staff to possess proof of a COVID-19 vaccination,” Conoley said in the email. “I believe that this is an important part of safely resuming a full university life back on campus and our progression toward the next normal.”
According to Conoley, this decision “came together very quickly” from consultation with UC and CSU leaders, and it’s something she is happy about from a public health standpoint.
“I think getting vaccinated is our best path forward to get back together on campus,” Conoley said.
While she expects concerns to be raised “because people don’t like mandates,” she emphasized that she trusts the vaccines as well as CSULB’s medical staff and that there will be accommodations for those with any medical or religious concerns.
The fall semester will still include a mask requirement and social distancing regulations “at least as we begin,” she said.
CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said Thursday that this potential requirement “is the most comprehensive and consequential university plan for COVID-19 vaccines in the country.”
Both the CSU and UC systems have been hesitant to move forward with requiring vaccinations for students, faculty and staff due to legal concerns, something Castro discussed in February at a virtual student press conference.
CSULB’s Housing and Residential Life announced earlier this month that any students looking to live on campus this fall must show proof of vaccination to reside in the dorms. This enforcement was given the green light by the CSU Chancellor’s Office last month, according to Executive Director of Housing and Residential Life Corry Colonna, since living in the residence halls is a “choice for students” and doesn’t infringe on any legal issues.
Looking ahead to the fall, Conoley understands that the mandate has yet to be finalized but hopes it can help in returning to a sense of normalcy.
“I am very relieved. I’ve missed campus life,” she said. “I think many of our students will be delighted to see each other again.”