PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Community College will not require students or employees to be vaccinated as a condition of employment or enrollment this fall term, school officials announced Monday.

The school’s COVID-19 Opening Leadership Team unanimously agreed conditions will be good enough for operations to resume as normal–with added safety measures–by the time the term begins. College President Mark Mitsui approved the group’s recommendation.

College officials cautioned many of PCC’s pandemic administrative rules and health and safety guidelines could change over the course of the next several weeks.

In a statement released Monday, the team said it made its decision based on the following factors:

  • Because vaccination access and hesitancy looks different across racial lines, vaccination requirements create a barrier to educational access that will disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). This would not reflect PCC’s institutional values of equity, inclusion and belonging.
  • Based on surveys, vaccination rates for PCC employee and student communities far exceed 70%, the vaccination target rate set by Governor Kate Brown.
  • The vaccination rate will never be 100%. Oregon law allows individuals to request exemption from vaccination requirements for personal, religious, or medical reasons. As such, some members of the college’s community would not be vaccinated, even if it were required. 
  • While many public universities are requiring vaccination, no community colleges in Oregon are requiring vaccination of all students, and few community colleges across the country are making vaccination a requirement for enrollment. This trend is aligned with the open access mission of community colleges, a value that is core to PCC.

In May, Portland State University announced it would be requiring vaccinations as did the University of Oregon and Western Oregon University. Oregon State University announced a similar requirement for its students and workers at its locations starting this fall. The University of Washington and Washington State University, along with other higher education institutions in the Portland area, have also announced COVID-19 vaccination requirements.