Updated: Feb 12, 2022
New health measures signal a shift in policy as omicron spreads through the Valley community.
By Edward Segal, Valley Life Editor
Now requiring booster shots and N95 masks in response to a surge of COVID-19 cases, Valley College has tightened its requirements for students’ attendance on campus.
According to Valley President Barry Gribbons, booster shots are required for all students and employees who received their single dose of Johnson & Johnson or two-dose sequence of Pfizer or Moderna at least six months ago, per LACCD board policy 2900.
“Board rules say you must be ‘fully vaccinated,’ meaning that you are up-to-date on your vaccines,” said Gribbons’ representative during the Town Hall meeting Monday. “If you are eligible for a booster shot, then it is required to be considered fully vaccinated.”
Similar to the fall semester, students who receive their booster on campus will be awarded a Valley bookstore gift card worth $150.
Students will still have to take weekly tests if they request medical or religious exemptions through the student portal.
Valley will provide surgical masks at the entrance of every building on campus for students and staff. According to Gribbons, the masks must be N95s or surgical masks, but students are allowed to wear cloth masks in tandem with them.
In addition to the masks, stations will be located at every building where students will be required to scan their Cleared4 QR codes upon completing the daily symptom check questionnaire.
This is an escalation from the fall semester, in which Cleared4 verifications were not enforced.
Anyone who has tested positive in the last 90 days is exempt from testing unless they show new symptoms of COVID-19.
“The quarantine period for folks who have tested positive is currently ten days,” said Gribbons. For those who are fully vaccinated, the quarantine “can be shortened to five days with a negative result from a rapid antigen test.”
Students who test positive should notify their professors, who would then inform either Gribbons’ office or the safety officer.
Antigen tests are being made available to students and staff in order to provide rapid results in cases involving contact with someone who tested positive.
Once Gribbons’ office or the safety officer receives information about a positive test, Valley will then follow up with anyone who has been in contact with that student or faculty member, informing them about L.A. County Department of Public Health guidelines regarding getting tested. People who have come in contact with those who have tested positive will not be required to get tested themselves but are encouraged to do so.
Anthropology Professor Rebecca Frank supports all of the district’s policies, saying that surgical masks and boosters are effective at protecting people from serious infection.
“With all these measures in place, I'm comfortable teaching in person,” said Frank. “I would not be comfortable teaching in person without the vaccination booster and mask mandate.”
According to Professor Frank, the circulation and air filtration was upgraded in the Allied Health and Sciences building.
Valley will continue to offer many online classes for those who still may not be comfortable returning in-person or fulfilling all of the vaccination requirements. According to the New York Times, the number of COVID cases peaked in January and is now declining.
According to the CDC, cases and hospitalizations are declining but deaths are still on the rise. In Los Angeles, an average of 175 out of every 100,000 people contracted the virus every day over the last seven days, which is a decrease of about 52 percent over the last two weeks.
“I do think that as we see a seasonal drop in the number of COVID cases, perhaps we can move from a pandemic to an endemic and see relief from a lot of the requirements,” said Gribbons.
— With contributions from Matthew Royer