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Massachusetts Community Colleges Explain Why They Don't Plan To Mandate COVID Vaccines This Fall

BOSTON (CBS) -- Several local colleges and universities have announced that they will be requiring students to be vaccinated against the coronavirus before returning to campus this fall. But for now it appears that won't be the case for the 15 community colleges in Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges said in a statement that while it urges students and staff to get vaccinated as soon as possible, it is not currently looking to make it a requirement.

"Considerations for the fall semester continue to develop and are subject to change, but the community colleges are not contemplating COVID-19 vaccine mandates at this time," the 15 school presidents said in the statement.

The community colleges explained that there are concerns about all students having access to the vaccine.

"It is essential that we meet the needs of all of our students, who are often from the communities hit hardest by this pandemic and facing disproportionate access to the COVID-19 vaccine," they said. "And now, it is more important than ever to prioritize equity, and creating additional barriers for our students would go against our critically important mission of open access for all."

Still, the community colleges said they are eager to resume face-to-face learning and a "new normal of campus operations" in the fall, and stressed that getting as many people vaccinated as possible will help accomplish that goal.

"Now that all Massachusetts residents 16+ are eligible to access appointments, we strongly urge our students, employees, and all in our college communities to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they are able," the colleges said. "Top health officials for the state and the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and our community leaders have all demonstrated that the available vaccines are not only safe but are the most effective way to limit the spread of the coronavirus."

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