“Beliefs” added as immunization exemption at Allan Hancock College

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The Allan Hancock College board voted to include sincere beliefs and antibodies from past exemptions from COVID-19 infection to its COVID-19 vaccine tenure at a special meeting on Tuesday evening.

In addition, they decided that unvaccinated people will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test every three days. Administrators have ordered rapid test kits for the campus.

Trustees Hilda Zacarias and Alejandra Enciso Medina opposed including sincere beliefs as an exemption.

Ms Zacarias sees the issue as an emotional issue, she said, as an immunocompromised student and caregiver of two loved ones in hospice care.

“I don’t have immunity, and even the vaccine needs to be given to me more regularly because it doesn’t work in my body system,” she said. “Does this mean that now I am not a candidate for further training, that I must abandon my goal of being able to obtain the diploma I have been looking for a year? “

Mr Medina thought the exemption was not strict enough, but she also struggled to draw the line of what is a valid belief.

“I have a feeling that we will open the doors to everyone,” she said. “And like we’ve all said, none of us want to take the burden of deciding what our religious or personal beliefs are. And so it’s really hard for me to understand, especially because I know my freedom is coming to an end. when it affects the health or, personally, the safety of someone else.

The board chose the language of “sincerely held belief” without further specifying religious beliefs, as these are included in sincere beliefs.

Superintendent / Chairman Kevin G. Walthers noted that there were “a lot of mixed opinions” from students, faculty and other stakeholders.

“We don’t want to be the arbiter of sincere religious beliefs. We think it’s a slippery slope, ”he said.

Public comments were mixed but respectful.

One student was frustrated at not understanding the lingo often used in the COVID-19 protocol, such as “asymptomatic.”

He said other students believe in misinformation, such as the theories that the vaccine would prevent them from going to heaven. He was sympathetic and wanted the college to reach out with more education for the students.

Dr Alina Romo, assistant professor of English at Hancock, has taken a more aggressive stance on disinformation.

“When we, as professors, as an institution of higher education, allow individuals to assert that things make sense and that facts are only facts, when it suits them, we run the risk. to dismantle the fundamental role of education, ”she said.

Men’s basketball coach Tyson Aye spoke on behalf of the athletics department and called for regular testing as an acceptable exemption.

“We have a number of students from out of the region who have invested almost everything financially and personally to be in our college. And to take that away from them after the fact, we don’t think it’s the right thing to do, ”he said.

Other professors also noted that students registered before the term.

Hancock Fire Academy coordinator Leonard Champion said he didn’t think the tests were reasonable.

“I ask you to implement daily screening of all students and faculty, instead of invasive testing for a single group. Those (vaccinated) can still transmit the virus, so treat both and test for both as such, ”he said.

Students and staff have until October 1 to get vaccinated.

The college encourages vaccination with $ 250 Visa gift cards. Over 4,100 credited and uncredited students have claimed their cards.

email: ahanshaw@newspress.com


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