Important Update for Faculty: Vaccine “Requirement” Implementation and Fall Safety

LCC Faculty Colleagues,

Lane County Emergency Advisory

As you are likely aware, COVID cases are surging in Lane County and throughout Oregon. Given the dearth of available ICU beds, Lane County passed an emergency advisory, which includes recommendations as follows

  • Unvaccinated adults should stay home, not go in public, and get vaccinated;
  • Employers should encourage remote work;
  • In addition to indoor masking regardless of vaccine status, all should wear masks outdoors whenever 6’ distance is not reliably possible (also mandated by Governor Brown to take effect this Friday); and
  • Individuals should avoid activities that may cause injury due to lack of hospital capacity, among others.

See the full Emergency Advisory Guidelines.

Vaccine Implementation

The College has provided more information about the implementation of the vaccine “requirement.” In addition to concerns that no proof of vaccination status is required and the option of a philosophical exemption, the Administration has explained that for the approximately 5,000 students who are already registered for Fall, there will be only “soft holds” added to their accounts in Banner. These “soft holds” will not affect student registration for Fall, nor will the holds impact student attendance in-person in Fall. Students will receive reminders that they need to complete the vaccination form, but if they do not do so, they will continue to be enrolled for Fall. “Hard holds” will be implemented at a later date such that students already registered for Fall will not be able to register for Winter until they complete the form. 

For students not yet registered for Fall, “hard holds” will be added to their accounts so that they cannot register for Fall until they complete the vaccine form. However, these “hard holds” are not yet implemented, so a new student registering today will have only a “soft hold” as described above.

In addition, while other institutions have developed processes for verifying medical and religious exemptions, there are currently no plans for a review, verification, or approval process for medical or religious exemptions requested by LCC employees or students. 

More on Fall and Bargaining over Safety and Working Conditions

Your LCCEA Bargaining Team met with the College again today and, together with LCCEF, advocated for better processes in implementing the vaccine requirement in accordance with the Board of Education vote that the mandate take effect for Fall term. However, it is clear that the Administration does not intend for the requirement to be implemented in a manner that requires proof of vaccination status nor requires students who attend in Fall to complete and submit the form without affecting their registration status until Winter term.  At the same time, the unions’ joint proposal and the College’s proposal are the same in that both require vaccines or approved exemptions by the beginning of Fall. 

The disconnect between the College’s written proposal in bargaining and the College’s actual plans for the vaccine “requirement” implementation is both surprising and deeply concerning, given the implications for the health and safety of the campus and entire community.

In addition, the current MOA in effect for faculty for Summer term requires the College to notify faculty if a student who attends their in-person class tests positive. The LCCEA and LCCEF have jointly proposed that such notice continue in Fall and beyond for in-person exposure to classified or faculty employees, but the College has indicated they do not accept the proposal and wish to make notice only when there is “close contact,” currently defined as less than six feet distance for 15 minutes or more. This means that, for example, a faculty member teaching a class with social distancing in the classroom where a student tests positive would receive no notice.

The College has also rejected the LCCEF-LCCEA joint proposal to provide portable HEPA filters for shared offices and classrooms upon request. Ventilation and air filtration are important strategies to mitigate risk of COVID transmission. For instance, see: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2779062 (Thank you, Chemistry faculty.) While many areas on campus are now served by MERV 13 filters, not all spaces and classrooms have windows or efficient airflow from the HVAC systems. The federal government has allocated $27 Million to LCC, specifically to address costs resulting from the pandemic, which can be used for these relatively minor expenses.

The College has also proposed that unvaccinated employees and students be subject to periodic testing but cannot commit to paying for the testing at this time.

The parties also discussed a mask and social distancing requirement for Fall term. Even though both the College and the LCCEF-LCCEA joint proposal tie safety measures to the most protective public health guidelines, the College had removed language requiring masks and social distancing for Fall. After considerable advocacy on the part of both unions, the College agreed to restore the mask and social distancing requirement specified in the proposal.

While the parties’ agreement that masks and social distancing be required in Fall represents some small step toward agreement, the number of unresolved issues is significant as are the substantial and direct impacts to not only the health and safety of faculty, but also for the entire campus and broader community. 

Please stay tuned for more information and joint communications from the LCCEF and LCCEA Action Teams.

Your LCCEA Bargaining Team,

Kelly Collins

Adrienne Mitchell

Nancy Wood

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Black Lives Matter

The Lane Community College Education Association (LCCEA) expresses deep sadness about the senseless killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky; Ahmaud Aubery in Brunswick, Georgia; and so many others. We stand in solidarity with those demanding swift justice and with the Black community, affirming that Black lives do matter. We are committed to advocating for the well-being of our colleagues, students, campus, and community members who are victims of racism, violence, and oppression, as well as supporting the eradication of institutional racism, inequity, and injustice in all their forms.

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UPDATE regarding Vaccine Requirement Implementation


A legal opinion provided to LCCEA confirms that LCC must offer medical and religious exemptions to vaccine requirements. However, LCC and community colleges throughout Oregon are not legally required to allow philosophical / personal exemptions to the COVID-19 vaccine.

Please see attached memo from Aruna Masih of Bennett Hartmann Attorneys at Law. {See Memo Regarding Vaccination Exemptions below]

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Best,

Adrienne

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LCCEA President’s Update: Important Fall Faculty Info

Dear Colleagues,
I am writing with a very brief update.

Fall Plans And Staying Up-to-date

Please review your email frequently and regularly before Fall term. As COVID conditions have continued to worsen in Lane County, it is increasingly likely that changes and announcements will be provided to the campus community. Please communicate with your colleagues to ensure they are up-to-date as well.

Vaccine Implementation and Campus Safety
Thank you to the countless faculty who have written to the Board to express concerns with LCC’s plans for safety on campus this Fall. A special thank you to Wendy Simmons and Peggy Oberstaller for their work as Action Team Co-Chairs, coordinating faculty organizing efforts.
At their work session last night, the Board of Education members expressed concerns about: campus safety for Fall, including the lack of proof required for the vaccine mandate, questions on whether students who come to campus in Fall are required to fulfill the requirement or not, the inclusion of the personal/philosophical exemption, the lack of documentation required for exemptions, rising cases and full hospitals in Lane County, and the volume of in-person classes scheduled for Fall under these external and internal conditions. At the same time the Governor’s office is engaging community college and university leaders regarding safety and vaccines in higher education.

It is likely that new changes to the vaccine requirement will be announced at LCC, statewide, or both. It is also possible that LCC will seek to move additional courses to an online format. 

Important Deadlines for Faculty (For Now, Subject to Change)

September 7 — Deadline to Request Moving Remote: faculty members may request to move scheduled in-person Instruction and other Faculty Work to Remote Zoom instruction. Per Provost Jarrell, the process for making requests is: 

  1. Notify your Division Dean of the request you will be submitting so that they can begin processing this request.  There is a lot that goes into looking at consequences, and adjusting schedules, so the sooner they know, the quicker they can resolve.

AND

  1. Fill out and submit the request form provided by HR.  The form can be found at https://www.lanecc.edu/hr/flex-workplace-arrangements.  Employees with existing approved requests for Fall term do not need to resubmit.  

September 14 — Deadline to submit vaccination form for all College employees, regardless of whether working on campus or not. All faculty should complete the form at:  https://etcentral.lanecc.edu/#/form/347

September 15 — Deadline for OEBB insurance mandatory enrollment, required for all insurance-eligible faculty, including faculty who have double coverage and choose a monthly stipend in lieu of insurance. You can find information about open enrollment at: https://www.lanecc.edu/hr/benefits/open-enrollment and complete the open enrollment process at: https://myoebb.org/oebb/!pb.main

LCCEA representatives will work to support faculty in their requests to move online and should any other changes or requirements come about. 

My best,
Adrienne

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FAQ: College Plans for Vaccination Requirements, Exemptions, Ventilation, Contact Tracing

FAQ

In order to ensure transparency, LCCEF and LCCEA provide this FAQ to members of the campus community.

What vaccine exemptions are allowed at LCC?

The College accepts medical, religious, and personal/philosophical exemptions.

What documentation is required for medical and religious exemptions?

None.

What review process does the College currently use for medical or religious exemptions?

None.

What documentation is required for the personal/philosophical exemption?

Students electing the personal/philosophical exemption are asked to watch an educational video but are not required to provide documentation that they have done so. They must submit the form acknowledging that they have watched the video.

What documentation is required for vaccination status?

The College requires individuals to self-report the type of vaccine, vaccine date, and whether or not the vaccine was received in Oregon. No vaccine cards or other documentation are required. Administration representatives have explained that they do not wish to require copies of vaccine cards because it is possible that they could be falsified.

Is it a violation of HIPAA for LCC to require vaccine documents?

No. LCC routinely requires that students submit medical documents when seeking to drop a class past the deadline or when making a financial aid appeal, for example, utilizing SoftDocs — the very same secure system used for the vaccine self-reporting from.

What exemptions are required by law?

Medical and religious exemptions.

For students already registered for Fall, what will happen if they do not submit a vaccination or exemption self-reporting form?

Students will receive reminders, but they will be able to attend in-person LCC activities without completion of the form in Fall term, and they will not have any holds on registration until Winter term registration.

For new students not yet registered for Fall, what requirements will they have to complete?

New students will be required to complete the vaccine or exemption self reporting form in order to register.

Is the College doing contact tracing?

Yes. Contact tracing includes notification to individuals with “close contact” defined as spending 15 minutes or more at a distance of less than six feet with an individual who has tested positive for COVID 19. 

Will the College notify an employee who has come into contact with a positive case if there is no “close contact?” 

No. The Administration currently says they will not agree to provide notice to individuals if they have not been within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for more than 15 minutes. 

Why are there concerns about ventilation?

Some rooms and buildings on campus have a history of poor airflow. So far, the Administration rejects LCCEA-LCCEF proposals that the College commit to follow its own Covid ventilation plan, including, “Perform daily flush before occupied hours to achieve 3 fresh outside air changes, minimum 2 hours.” In addition, shared spaces such as offices and classrooms may have increased demands when occupied with multiple individuals or classes scheduled back-to-fack even with social distancing in place. In addition, the Administration does not yet have results from a firm contracted to study airflow and outside air exchange for the HVAC system, including areas on campus known to be problematic. Portable HEPA filters should be provided to serve such areas, especially classrooms and shared offices, many of which have no windows or windows that cannot be opened.

What will happen if personal/philosophical exemptions are eliminated?

It is possible that this could happen at LCC or statewide. Since full FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine was announced, many employers are requiring vaccination with medical and religious exemptions allowed. Governor Brown has indicated the possibility of extending the K12 and healthcare worker vaccine mandate to higher education. As more vaccination requirements are implemented statewide and nationwide, the likelihood that the requirements in higher education in Oregon will become more stringent, increases. At LCC, faculty report exceedingly high rates of vaccination with 4% indicating in April that they were not planning to get the vaccine. Should new requirements come about, LCCEA will support individual faculty members with the process and any requirements for legitimate exemption requests.

Why are LCCEA and LCCEF working together? 

The unions represent all classified and faculty at LCC and have common interests and responsibility in ensuring that the working and learning conditions at Lane Community College are safe and promote public health. We are stronger together when working in solidarity for the benefit of the campus and community beyond. 

What can you do if you do not feel that the College’s plans for Fall are adequate?

Write to Board of Education members and President Hamilton 

Board Chair Lisa Fragala: fragalal@lanecc.edu

Board Vice Chair Rosie Pryor: pryorr@lanecc.edu

Mike Eyster: eysterm@lanecc.edu 

Austin Folnagy: folnagya@lanecc.edu 

Holli Johnson: johnsonh@lanecc.edu 

Steve Mital: mitals@lanecc.edu 

Angela VanKrause: vankrausea@lanecc.edu 

President Marge Hamilton: hamiltonm@lanecc.edu 

With copy to:

lcceaaction@lanecc.edu and president@lccef.org, vporganizing@lccef.org, and cope@lccef.org 

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LCC Faculty Colleagues,

A few brief updates on changes to Fall plans since last week as we navigate the ongoing surge in COVID cases due to the Delta variant:

Social Distancing Restored for Fall Classes
The College has agreed to restore social distancing for Fall classes, which means that class capacities that had been increased over the past few weeks will be reduced to previous levels (i.e. 50% of classroom capacity) to ensure space for distancing for face-to-face instruction.

Vaccine Requirement Implementation
As you are likely aware, the Board of Education voted in July to require vaccines for students and employees participating in face-to-face activities at all LCC locations, allowing medical and non-medical exemptions. Faculty should complete the required form by September 14. Some concerns have arisen because the vaccine mandate forms do not require proof of vaccination status and allow philosophical and other exemptions. Effectively, this means that LCC will not be a “fully vaccinated campus.” 

LCCEF and LCCEA are working together in solidarity to address this gap in bargaining with proposals that require the publication of the campus vaccination rate weekly and safety measures tied to both public health guidelines and the campus vaccination rate. Publication of the campus vaccination rate will promote transparency and help galvanize efforts to increase the rate in order to help protect students and employees on campus as well as to promote public health in the broader community.

Please see the proposal below provided to the College by LCCEF and LCCEA today. The next Bargaining session is scheduled for Monday, August 23. Please join me in sending appreciation to faculty members Kelly Collins and Nancy Wood, whose service on your LCCEA Bargaining Team frequently requires several meetings per week.

Reminder — Flexible Workplace Arrangement Requests: Two Options
It is possible to request an ADA accommodation for remote work due to a faculty member’s own serious health condition. In addition, it is possible to request a flexible workplace arrangement due to concerns about household members, school/daycare issues, etc. Please see email from Sharon Daniel in HR to all LCC employees from May 11 at 5:24 p.m. (copied below), which provides more details on the process and links to forms to make requests for remote work. 

My best,
Adrienne

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