Some COCC faculty members upset with college’s COVID plans as school returns

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Central Oregon Community College began its student orientations via Zoom Monday. 

In a week, some students will be in classrooms on campus.

Although some people are excited to get back in the classroom, others are not pleased with the college’s COVID protocols. 

“We are not taking a lax approach to vaccination or to COVID,” said COCC President Dr. Laurie Chesley. 

In a post online an anonymous part-time faculty member shared the plans were “garbage” and that “the responsibility is too much, especially for teachers that don’t get healthcare from the college, are underpaid and have no medical training.”

“I’m equally concerned about the safety and the health of our students and our employees,” said Dr. Chesley.

Dr. Chesley also acknowledged faculty members will be on the frontlines if students attempt to ignore the statewide mask mandate. 

“The initial interaction with a student who might not want to mask would certainly be a faculty member,” she said. 

“We’re doing some training with how to deescalate some situations like that.” 

Many universities across the state including the Oregon State University Cascades campus in Bend are requiring students and staff to be vaccinated, but COCC is not.  

“The research we’ve reviewed indicates that mandates aren’t the best way to get compliance,” said Dr. Chesley, citing the liberal opt-out policies in Oregon for vaccine mandates. 

Instead, COCC is offering incentives and raffles for students to get the vaccine. 

The vaccine will be required only for clinical or practicum students and on-campus residents, but other students are left to personal choice.

Central Oregon Daily News reached out to more than 15 faculty members from COCC.

When asked about online rumors regarding a planned staff walkout, Dr. Chesley said she was not aware of any such plans and that she hoped an upcoming faculty meeting would ease concerns staff members may have about returning to work in person.

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