Members of the ARC community speak out as the LRCCD’s vaccine mandate takes effect

Some believe that the vaccine mandate goes against medical choice


On Oct. 1, the vaccine requirement from the Los Rios Community College District was put in place. Some members of the American River College community disagree with the decision to require a vaccine and have held anti-mandate protests. (Photo by Lorraine Barron)

On Aug. 4, the Los Rios Community College District announced that it would require all students and staff who access district or college facilities to have at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1. This has led to some pushback from some members of the American River College community.

Some members of the Los Rios community also held a protest on Sept. 30 to show their disapproval of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

According to Scott Crow, ARC’s communications and public information officer, there will be discipline for the students and staff who access college and district facilities who didn’t receive at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1.

“Los Rios students who are not vaccinated or who do not have an approved exemption on file after Oct. 1 will not be allowed to come to any district or college facility in person and will be subject to discipline, up to and including possible suspension,” Crow said in an email to the Current. 

Crow says that Los Rios will follow existing negotiated employee discipline policies and procedures. 

“Employees who haven’t provided proof of their vaccination status and do not have an approved exemption will be subject to discipline after Oct. 1, up to and including termination,” Crow said. 

Ryan Nix, a health services assistant at ARC, says that students and staff shouldn’t be punished for a medical decision. 

“I believe that everyone should have the freedom of health choice. They should make medical decisions free of coercion from employers, and be able to make medical decisions while not under threat of being unemployed,” Nix said. “I think that students should be free to take classes and not be denied an education based on their medical decisions.” 

Crow says that the district looked at state and national data that showed that the majority of college students and employees were in favor of a vaccine requirement. 

Nix says that there shouldn’t be a mandate at all, and that staff and students who don’t want to get the vaccine should be able to sign a waiver.

“I would like to have seen a declination, we have those for allied health programs. You can sign a declination saying that ‘I accept these risks,’” Nix said. “If the college wants to be free of liability of COVID-19 infections and so forth, I suppose they could have put forth a declination saying ‘I refuse to get vaccinated.’ But even then, I believe it is our individual choice to get it, or not get it, and it’s not within their purview to accept or decline our personal medical decisions.”

Crow says that with the new Delta variant, the Los Rios Board of Trustees decided that a decision was needed quickly and that they received input on a vaccine mandate.

“Los Rios also received guidance and encouragement from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, the office of Governor Gavin Newsom, and the California Department of Public Health in pursuing a vaccine requirement,” Crow said. 

Harim Reynolds, a wide receiver for ARC’s football team, was diagnosed with COVID-19. The team required Reynolds to be quarantined for 10 days. 

Reynolds says there aren’t any different rules for students than there are for the football team. 

“Everything we do is safe for everyone on campus,” Reynolds said. 

Since contracting COVID-19, Reynolds has received his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.

Reynolds says he felt safe with the ARC football team’s protocols for COVID-19. 

“They help us so the whole team doesn’t have to get shut down like we have in the past,” Reynolds said. 

Although Reynolds feels safe with the protocols put in place by the football team, he doesn’t think that there should be a vaccine mandate. 

“I don’t agree with the mandate,” Reynolds said. “I don’t think it’s fair for us to get something we don’t want.”