COCC Extends Staff Vaccination Deadline to February 9, Citing OHSA Requirement

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – Central Oregon Community College will require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by February 9, more than a month ahead of schedule, due to federal OSHA rules, President Dr Laurie Chesley told staff in an email Wednesday.

Here is the full email:

Dear quality colleagues,

Welcome back from winter vacation – Hope you all had a relaxing vacation.

I am writing to you with an update on the College’s plans for the winter term and the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination requirement for COCC employees.

The COCC will remain open for on-campus learning and student services during the winter term, continuing from the fall with approximately 50% of our classes offered in person. The capacity of the room will be capped at 50% or 100 people, whichever is smaller. We continue to follow all CDC, OHA and OSHA guidelines, including proper mask wear within our four campuses. We are also closely monitoring cases of COVID-19 in our region and state, paying particular attention to the rise of the Omicron variant. The science remains clear that COVID-19 vaccinations, boosters, and masks are an individual’s most effective ways to prevent serious illness, hospitalizations, and death from COVID-19. So get vaccinated, Bobcats, then get boosted as soon as you are eligible (find a vaccination or booster clinic near you) !

Recently, a federal appeals court reinstated the federal vaccine or OSHA testing mandate for employers. As an employer, COCC is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace. OSHA requires us to implement the COVID-19 Employee Vaccination Policy by February 9, 2022 (this is earlier than the March 18, 2022 deadline we communicated previously).

A team of your colleagues is working quickly on the details of the future implementation of the vaccination requirement for COCC employees (including how to report your vaccination status, request any eligible exceptions, provide proof of weekly test results if necessary, etc.). More details on this implementation will be available in the days and weeks to come. We will soon be launching an intranet FAQ page to help answer some of your most common questions. Next week, we’ll also be sending out a voluntary employee immunization status survey to better determine the extent of the work ahead.

COCC is a higher education institution and our mission is to provide quality, accessible and lifelong educational opportunities. As such, there is necessarily an educational component to our response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and COCC will offer factual information on and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccinations. Here are some of the ways we reach our students, employees and community members:

* Continuous social media posts encouraging vaccination and stimulation across all channels
* Emails sent to all students registered for the winter term on 12/16/30 and 12/30, including information encouraging vaccines / reminders and details of where injections are available in our service district
* Added pro-vaccination printed materials to our welcome package for new students (sent to all newly admitted students prior to counseling / enrollment)
* In partnership with community outreach staff from Deschutes County Health Services, offering free “Lunch and Learn” webinars during the winter term to help answer questions and concerns about vaccines and COVID- variants. 19 (more information to follow)
* Organize free vaccination and booster clinics on our campuses throughout the winter term (more information to follow)

We know testing is an important public health measure to stop the spread of Omicron and other COVID-19 variants. COCC has renewed its agreement with Curative, OHA and Deschutes County Health Services to continue offering rapid and free COVID-19 PCR tests on our Bend and Redmond campus at least until the end of March. Free rapid antigen testing and 24-72hr-result PCR are also available on the second Bend de Curative site in the Vieux Moulin district. Due to high demand, we strongly encourage you to book an appointment at these sites, as walk-in tours are frequently refused due to lack of testing. Student vaccination policies and test also Stay in place.

The SLT and I will continue to monitor pandemic conditions closely, following all guidelines from the health authorities and promptly notifying the COCC community of any changes to our response. Keep an eye out for headlines for details regarding college immunization requirements.

Thank you, Bobcats, for your continued commitment to our collective health and safety.

Laurie


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