HomeCommunityMPC dual-enrollment classes to require COVID-19 vaccinations come spring

MPC dual-enrollment classes to require COVID-19 vaccinations come spring

Published Dec. 15, 2021

BY RILEY PALSHAW

Starting in January, Carmel High School students taking a dual-enrollment history or statistics class through Monterey Peninsula College will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to comply with new MPC requirements, sparking varied reactions among enrolled students. 

MPC’s requirement states that all of their students, whether on campus or enrolled in a dual-enrollment course off campus, must be vaccinated by the start of the second semester in order to continue taking their classes. Students can apply for medical or religious exemptions that would allow them to stay in the class even if they are not vaccinated, but if they have no exemption and are unvaccinated, they will be required to drop the course. Those few students who are exempt from the requirement will likely face weekly COVID-19 testing to ensure a safe classroom environment. 

CHS students will have until Jan. 21 to submit proof of vaccination through an app that MPC provides or have an exemption form on file, but Dec. 17 is the deadline for students to receive their first shot if they haven’t already and plan to get the two-shot sequence. 

“We plan on doing an initial survey of kids’ vaccination status,” CHS principal Jon Lyons says, “and depending on how many kids are unvaccinated, we can work with individual students to figure out where they are in this process and guide them through it.”

One of the concerns teachers have, particularly in the case of the MPC U.S. History class, is that high school students will have to drop from a college-level course to a college prep course simply because of their vaccination status, putting them at a disadvantage in terms of their education. 

“They’re going to be forced out of the higher class, but again, that’s on them,” says Joe McCarty, who teaches MPC U.S. History at CHS. “That’s a choice students and their families will have to make as they decide if it’s worth getting vaccinated to stay in the MPC course.”

Unlike the history course, there is no alternative math class for students in the dual-enrollment statistics class if they unenroll from the course after this first semester.

(courtesy of Pfizer-BioNTech)

“There’s no other class for them to go to where the units I’ve taught are going to be helpful, so they just lose out,” MPC Statistics teacher Dawn Hatch explains. “The negative here is that if students have applied to a college that thinks they’re going to be in this course, they now have to call that college and let them though they will no longer be enrolled in that course because they aren’t vaccinated.”

Among dual-enrollment students, opinions vary about how necessary the vaccination requirement is, especially since CHS students enrolled in MPC courses never actually set foot on the college campus. 

“I feel like their requirement is more for students who attend their in-person classes than students like me who are doing dual enrollment,” senior Lily Weisenfeld says. “But at the end of the day, it’s a choice to attend MPC, so I don’t think there’s much of an issue for requiring their students to get vaccinated.” 

For other students, the vaccination requirement seems tedious.

“I personally don’t agree with making the vaccine a mandatory requirement, especially when it comes to education,” senior Aiden Slade says. “To me it seems like an unnecessary barrier to potential learning, something that is quite important. And while I do value public health, I also value the freedom to choose what you put into your body.”

Some students see vaccination requirements as essential in classrooms.

“Requiring vaccines for students is a necessary step towards the eventual eradication of the pandemic,” junior Julia Blakely says. “If everybody is vaccinated, it makes it a safer environment, and I think at this point requiring vaccines should not be unexpected. It is important for progress.”

The remaining big question is whether Carmel Unified School District will follow suit and also implement a vaccination mandate for their students.

“This is the next big conversation on the COVID front,” Lyons says. “At some point there may be a conversation about a vaccine mandate. There hasn’t been, but it could be coming.”

 

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