By Daesha Gear
The new booster mandate passed by the Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees is giving me déjà vu of fall 2021, and it’s unnerving.
Similar to the last-minute COVID-19 vaccine order in the fall 2021 semester, which called for both doses from Moderna or Pfizer or the single vaccination from Johnson & Johnson, this new mandate from the district inconveniences students, staff and faculty.
The district’s lack of transparency and professionalism to enforce the last-minute implementation is beyond comparison to the Cal States and UC’s, which established their booster requirement for students in December. RCCD informed its students and faculty members through an email on Jan. 19 to have the booster shot less than two weeks from the proposed Feb. 1 deadline.
Although I am not here to compare and contrast RCCD to a CSU or UC, the delivery of enforcing a serious order in such a rushed manner is unsatisfactory. These matters should be carefully considered due to their impact on faculty members, staff and, most importantly, students.
RCCD encourages students who haven’t received any vaccinations to “do it now.” However, despite recently receiving both shots, students cannot return to campus because their bodies need to build immunity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults will be eligible to get the booster after five months for Moderna and Pfizer and two months for Johnson & Johnson. This presents a challenge for students who planned to return to their respective colleges the Spring semester, as many who received their second dose in September and October will barely be eligible for a booster by February and March.
Everyone eligible to come back is given an either/or option: either receive the booster vaccine and upload proof to CLEARED4 before Feb. 1 or undergo weekly testing to monitor COVID-19 symptoms to access essential locations around the campus until eligible.
The district’s plan to host weekly vaccination sites reminds me of the notorious black tents and wrist bands that monitored who was safe to return to campus in the fall semester.
RCCD’s strategies to check COVID symptoms and blue/green passes disappeared shortly after a single week despite initially being heavily enforced. With that in mind, it makes me question the district’s consistency with the rules they enforce.
RCCD expects its students and faculty to get a booster vaccine to attend in-person and hybrid courses this semester while repeatedly delivering requirements within short notice.
The district’s past inconsistencies regarding COVID-19 are becoming more noticeable and objectionable. It is uncertain how well this new order will play this upcoming semester. History is undoubtedly repeating itself regarding RCCD’s lack of consistency on the COVID mandates they implement to its students and faculty members.