Safer Campuses, Safer Students: Coast Community College District Offers and Requires Vaccines

four students standing outside a college campus
The Coast Community College District is keeping their three campuses safe for students during the pandemic.
(Photo Courtesy of Coast Community College District)

Orange County residents who may be searching for answers about where and when to get vaccinated have many resources and options. But for younger adults, especially students, the question of where and when to get the first or second shot is at the forefront of their minds, as many workplaces and most colleges have begun returning to an in-person model.

The Coast Community College District, three distinct college campuses serving students from ten coastal communities in Orange County, is doing everything it can to ensure the safety of its student body and workforce by both offering the vaccine at its campuses and ensuring those on campus in person are fully vaccinated. On the heels of full FDA approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 two- dose vaccine, the Coast District’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved a compulsory vaccination requirement for its students, faculty, staff, managers and trustees.

In the announcement, the Board cited the urgent need to protect the college community with any of the three approved, safe and proven vaccination regimens. “Vaccination is the primary means to reduce risk of serious disease, hospitalization, and death from the COVID-19 disease as well as to combat the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant to friends, family, colleagues, and the community at large,” the Board offered in a statement.

The impetus of the Board’s decision, trustees said, was to combat the reduced rate of new vaccinations in Orange County, which, like the rest of California, has slowed steadily since the rollout of vaccinations earlier in the pandemic. Coast District Chancellor John Weispfenning plans to implement the mandate for employees as soon as possible and share a plan for students no later than October 1.

Those unable to receive the vaccine, including those with religious or medical exemptions, will be subject to regular testing. To avoid the hassle of stringent testing, the Coast District is recommending everyone who’s planning on attending, teaching or working at its three colleges to consider the advice of qualified experts, evaluate their risks with advice from a health professional if necessary, and make a plan to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“There is no reason to wait on the complete implementation of the vaccination mandate to take a step that will protect you and your family,” shared Chancellor Weispfenning in a message to Coast District faculty and staff.

To aid with the mandate, the Coast District is offering vaccinations at all three of their campuses. Coastline College, Golden West College, and Orange Coast College are working in conjunction with Orange County to continue operating vaccine clinics. Anyone 12 or over who lives, works or attends class in Orange County can receive a vaccine by walk- up or appointment.

The news follows the Coast District’s active efforts during the pandemic to protect its student body while still offering an affordable, flexible and valuable educational experience for coastal and inland Orange County communities. Following the lockdown orders early in the pandemic, the Coast District moved thousands of courses and varied student services online, adapting quickly to serve a student body representing many recent high school graduates dipping a first toe into the college experience and adults looking to enhance their professional careers or begin new paths.

The Coast District, which began as a single college almost 80 years ago, has grown and adapted to serve the Orange County community for generations. The three colleges of the Coast District are known not only for affordability and flexibility but also for their ability to set students up for success in transferring to the CSU or UC system, getting the first two years of college credit for often highly reduced cost.

Additionally, each campus offers associate degrees, career education, skills-building classes, English learning, and other flexible programs.