Anne Hall/CSU San Marcos
Students walking on CSU San Marcos campus before the pandemic.
This story was updated at 3:15 p.m. July 27 to include new comments from California Faculty Association.

Faculty, staff and students attending a California State University this fall will be required to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus to access campuses, the chancellor’s office announced Tuesday.

The CSU had intended to wait until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to any one of the existing vaccines, but “because of evolving circumstances,” Chancellor Joseph Castro made the announcement now.

“The current surge in Covid cases due to the spread of the highly infectious delta variant is an alarming new factor that we must consider as we look to maintain the health and well-being of students, employees and visitors to our campuses this fall,” Castro said. “Receiving a Covid vaccine continues to be the best way to mitigate the spread of the virus. We urge all members of the CSU community to get vaccinated as soon as possible, and announcing this requirement now allows members of the CSU community to receive multiple doses of a vaccine as we head into the beginning of the fall term.”

In an interview with EdSource, Castro said that he and campus leaders are alarmed by the increase in coronavirus hospitalizations across the state and increasing Covid-19 cases in places like Los Angeles County. Statewide hospitalizations have increased by about 95% in the past two weeks, he said.

CSU officials are still drafting a vaccination policy and the dates by which faculty, staff and students must certify their vaccinations will vary by campus. Officials at Cal Poly Pomona announced Tuesday that students and non-union-represented employees will be required to verify their vaccinations by Aug. 16. Those people who don’t verify their vaccinations with the university will be required to test weekly for Covid-19.

Of the 26,251 students who have enrolled in fall classes on the Pomona campus, fewer than 2,090 students have chosen to take at least one in-person class, according to the university.

Exemptions will be made for students and employees who can’t be vaccinated because of medical or religious reasons. But all certifications must be completed no later than Sept. 30, according to the chancellor’s office. Fall term for some CSU campuses begins as early as Aug. 18.

Cal State Student Association President Isaac Alferos said the statewide student group is encouraging the CSU community to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

“After 16 months of virtual learning and community building, I and many of my fellow students are excited but also nervous about the transition back to campus,” said Alferos, who attends Cal State Fullerton.  “We will continue to support a Covid-19 vaccine requirement to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community and encourage all CSU stakeholders to also support this requirement.”

The chancellor’s office will work with its labor unions on the vaccination policy and won’t take disciplinary action against represented employees until the final policy is complete.

“I am vaccinated and I encourage faculty to get vaccinated if they can so that we all do our part to make the CSU a safe place to work,” said Charles Toombs, president of the California Faculty Association, which is the union representing CSU faculty.

The faculty union said it would work with the chancellor’s office to protect the health and safety of the CSU community.

In a statement, the union said: “Recent increases in the rates of Covid-19 infection, particularly due to the delta variant is alarming for many as educators and students prepare for the start of the school year… After more than 17 months of varying degrees of sheltering in place; the loss of family, loved ones and friends; and learning and teaching, working and parenting from home, California continues to grapple with the pandemic’s changing circumstances and increasing spread of variants, especially among unvaccinated people.”

The University of California announced earlier this month that it would also require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19 for campus access. UC’s policy requires students and staff to show proof of vaccination two weeks before the start of the fall term.

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, which oversees the 115 in-person system, can’t legally issue a vaccine mandate or requirement, according to a system representative.

But Tuesday, acting Community Colleges Chancellor Daisy Gonzales urged local community college districts — that do have the authority — to adopt vaccination mandates. California’s statewide case rate rose from a low in May of 1.9 cases per 100,000 a day to at least 9.5 cases per 100,000 a day. The vast majority of new cases are among the unvaccinated, with 600% higher case rates among the unvaccinated than for those who are vaccinated, Gonzales said.

“If you have been waiting to get your vaccination, now is the time,” Gonzales said. “The delta variant is predominantly striking unvaccinated people, driving up the number of cases and hospitalizations.”

Castro said some campus leaders are looking at incentives, such as scholarships, textbook vouchers or prizes, to help encourage students and staff to get vaccinated.

Even for those who are vaccinated, Castro said they should be taking “an abundance of caution” and continue to be as safe as possible around unvaccinated people, for example, those students who may leave campus and go into towns and cities with low vaccination rates.

“The system announced last December that we would have a majority of our courses in-person this fall,” he said. “And as of today, that’s still the plan. There’ll be some differences by campus … and if for some reason we need to make an adjustment to our plan, we’ll do it as soon as we possibly can to give people advance notice.”

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Ashley A. Smith covers postsecondary education and success and other education reforms

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  1. A Sad Parent 1 year ago1 year ago

    My son had plans to transfer to CSUF. Now all those plans are down the drain. We will not comply with tyranny…

  2. Red Pilled 2 years ago2 years ago

    Is it necessary? The irony about vaccinating kids (minors) and college students (young adults) is that it's totally unnecessary given what we know about Coronavirus. Since the COVID lockdowns and mandates started last spring, far more school aged kids have died from suicide than Coronavirus. Given that young people are not know vectors of transmission to older individuals or vice-versa, why require people under the age of 25 to get vaccinated? This is not a … Read More

    Is it necessary? The irony about vaccinating kids (minors) and college students (young adults) is that it’s totally unnecessary given what we know about Coronavirus. Since the COVID lockdowns and mandates started last spring, far more school aged kids have died from suicide than Coronavirus. Given that young people are not know vectors of transmission to older individuals or vice-versa, why require people under the age of 25 to get vaccinated? This is not a “public health crisis”!

  3. Sheri 2 years ago2 years ago

    How can Cal State Universities require a vaccine that does not have full FDA Approval?

  4. Tom Spino 2 years ago2 years ago

    How will virtual students be tested if they are not vaccinated? They will return to campus with a mask?
    Thank you
    Concerned parent

  5. paul j. deom 2 years ago2 years ago

    If a student, faculty-staff members, employees, and administrators want to participate in the educational process, they get vaccinated. No ifs, and, or buts.


    • Jerry Crawford 2 years ago2 years ago

      “No if, ands, or buts”? Who made you the fascist dictator of Cal State schools? You do realize that you sound arrogant and privileged with your no exemption proclamation?

  6. Christy 2 years ago2 years ago

    I understand the concern, however, this is ridiculous to demand students get vaccinated when the vaccine is not FDA approved. Recent article stated
    “The state is tracking a dozen other variants, the governor said. He joined a chorus of officials who warned that while the three vaccines authorized for emergency use provide strong protection against COVID-19, the virus could continue to circulate and potentially mutate to an extent that the vaccines no longer offer protection.”
    Their body, their choice.

  7. Gregory Lin Lipford 2 years ago2 years ago

    “The 23-campus system foregoes waiting for full FDA approval”

    Which makes it illegal, if anyone cares. Will you question them on this? A government cannot compel participation in experimental medical procedures, including vaccines.


    • Sheri 2 years ago2 years ago

      So what are these students and parents to do? It’s an uphill battle. We should have a right to choose! We are simply waiting for full approval after the testing and research has been complete, while in the meantime taking precautions. Ugh!