WATERTOWN — With this week’s state deadline for all students engaging in person at a SUNY campus or facility to be vaccinated against COVID-19, Jefferson Community College reports that the majority of its students have met the requirement.
As of Thursday, JCC reports 1,091 students are fully vaccinated, with another 77 partially vaccinated. Together, the numbers of the fully and partially vaccinated make up about 90% of JCC’s student population.
“The goal is to support the students as best as possible,” said Corey A. Campbell, vice president of student engagement and retention at the college. “Of course we do want to get students vaccinated; however, if they choose not to, we want to make sure that we have multiple options for them to continue and pursue their education.”
About 5% of the students who remain unvaccinated have received a medical or religious exemption. According to Mr. Campbell, the remainder of students are more than likely going to be withdrawn by the end of the week for non compliance, but the college is still working with those students to try to gather information. Regardless of vaccination status, Mr. Campbell says students have been very good about masking up while on campus.
“The students have been great about adhering to the guidelines in place, and I think it goes to show kind of everyone understands the day and age we’re in and what’s going on,” he said. “Really coming together as a community so we can try to push forward as healthy as possible.”
Unvaccinated students will be withdrawn from in-person classes most likely by the end of this week, but they can remain enrolled in any remote classes. JCC has also added additional offerings to its late session eight-week classes to accommodate such students.
If the unvaccinated students were to get vaccinated over the break between semesters, they could then return to campus for the next semester when they are fully vaccinated. Currently, students who remain unvaccinated will not be allowed to use campus facilities and will be unable to attend classes in person.
Some students have indicated they are comfortable with working online or remotely, Mr. Campbell said. Other students have indicated that they don’t plan to get vaccinated and have not indicated why.
“We want to make sure that students have all of the information so they know kind of what will take place based on their decisions, and then they can make an informed decision that they feel is best for their particular situation,” Mr. Campbell said.
JCC is working with Jefferson County Public Health and the North Country Family Health Center on vaccination clinics, so there are clinics available in the local community through both of those organizations. JCC hosted clinics on campus the first two weeks of classes to help expedite the process of students becoming compliant with the mandate.
Additional on-campus clinics are not planned, though it is something the college could explore again in the future. During the clinics hosted the first few weeks of classes, Mr. Campbell estimates just over 100 students were vaccinated.
For full-time faculty and staff on campus, the vaccination rate is just over 96% at the college.
The 4% that have elected not to get the vaccine would remain on campus, Mr. Campbell said, and any requests to work remotely would need to go through Human Resources.
“For those — we have students that have the exemptions as well — so for anyone that does not have the vaccination, the expectation would be that they are taking a weekly COVID test, which are offered on campus as well,” Mr. Campbell said.
Mr. Campbell said he is happy to report that as a campus community, JCC has been able to keep its positivity rate below 1% throughout the pandemic.
“Jefferson takes the health, safety and wellbeing of all the community members very seriously, that’s a top priority,” he said. “We want to support our faculty, staff, and students and the community at large to be a healthy community, and then of course support the students in their educational endeavors.”