2021 | Schools

Montgomery College considering COVID-19 vaccination mandate for students, employees

82% of employees support mandate in poll

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Montgomery College is considering a possible COVID-19 vaccination mandate for its employees and students, a measure supported by 82% of staff members polled by the school.

During a meeting on Monday morning marking the start of the academic year, Interim President Charlene Dukes said college leaders believe the mandate — which would include exemptions for those who cannot get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons — would be an important measure to reduce the spread of the virus as more people return to campuses.

A timeline for a decision on the possible mandate was not given.

On Monday, Dukes said college officials were encouraged by recent comments made by White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci imploring organizations to not use the lack of federal approval of the vaccines as a deterrent for implementing mandates. The Pfizer vaccine — one of the three vaccines that received emergency authorization — received official approval from the FDA on Monday, during Montgomery College’s event.

About 1,300 employees responded to a recent survey inquiring about their vaccination status, according to Dukes.

About 88% of those who responded said they were fully vaccinated and about 8% declined to provide the information. Eighty-two percent of respondents said they support a vaccination mandate, Dukes said.

Montgomery College employs more than 3,000 people.

“It’s about our whole community,” Dukes said. “What I mean by that is the college community across all campus locations, and also our larger community where we live, work and play.”

If a vaccine mandate were implemented for the staff, Montgomery College would join other local institutions with similar requirements.

This month, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced that all county employees will be expected to submit proof of vaccination by October or agree to weekly testing. About a week later, MCPS announced the same requirement for its employees.

Colleges across the country have been making similar announcements en masse in recent weeks. As of mid-August, U.S. News and World Report had compiled a list of nearly 700 public and private colleges across the country that will require coronavirus vaccines.

The University System of Maryland in April announced that all eligible students and staff members who will be on campus must be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they have a medical or religious reason for not getting the shot.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com