President Joe Biden announced a sweeping vaccine mandate earlier today. The Executive Order could affect more than 100M workers. At the same time, the Los Angeles Unified School District School Board approved a vaccine mandate for all students 12 and older.
The Biden mandate applies to all federal workers and private employers with more than 100 employees. It also applies to all Head Start employees, and healthcare workers whose employers accept payments for services from Medicare and Medicaid.
The LAUSD mandate applies to all students aged 12 and up. Students must be fully vaccinated by December 19. Students who participate in sports or other in-person extracurricular activities must be vaccinated no later than October 31. The district will enroll students who remain unvaccinated by the deadline in its remote learning program.
Interim LAUSD Superintendent Megan Reilly said that the district has about 225,000 students to whom the mandate will apply. About 80,000, or 35%, are currently unvaccinated. Reilly cited the emergence of the Delta variant as a primary factor in the school board’s decision. Additionally, she said that the vaccine mandate would allow the largest number of students to benefit from in-person learning.
More than 1,000 colleges and universities have already announced vaccine mandates for their students, faculty, and staff. Although today’s Executive Order does not apply to Washtenaw Community College, Governor Whitmer, the state legislature or the State Health Department could issue a vaccine mandate for educational institutions.
Vaccine mandate is the only safe support for in-person learning
It’s becoming clear that the only way to safely conduct in-person learning is within the context of a vaccination mandate. Most students do not want online classes, and studies on the effectiveness of online education have drawn some alarming conclusions. For most students online learning is a defective experience that produces less-than-optimal results. These suboptimal outcomes carry forward in future coursework. Among community college students, the online-learning deficit can be so great that it causes students to drop out.
Numerous studies have shown that community college students don’t do well in online courses. In-person learning is the best way to ensure that these students perform to their academic potential. The transition to all-online learning was rough, and enrollment has dropped in subsequent semesters as a result. The only way to rebuild the enrollment at WCC is to offer a reliable, in-person learning experience.
The WCC Board of Trustees has a responsibility to protect the financial interests and operation of the College. They must implement a vaccine mandate for students taking classes in person. The sooner, the better.
Photo Credit: Arne Müseler, via Flickr