Posted on: September 12, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Ethan Holesha

Even while studying outdoors, sophomore Tee Oluwadiya and freshman Sets Adeyemo continue to take COVID precautions. While they removed their masks for the photo, other students are socially distancing and masking at other tables outside the L building.

By Ethan Holesha, Features Editor, and Mariah Trujillo, News Editor

Less than half of Moraine Valley students reported being vaccinated against COVID-19 as of late last week, despite a new mandate from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, according to college administrators. Two-thirds of Moraine’s employees have reported as vaccinated.

Pritzker issued the mandate Aug. 26 requiring all higher education personnel and students to be vaccinated no later than Sept. 5. To give time for schools to implement new accountability measures, the deadline was later pushed back to Sept. 19. Moraine has informed students and staff that they must provide proof of vaccination or proof of weekly testing by that date to partake in campus life.

A total of 2,432 students have reported they are vaccinated,” said Dennis Sage, director of Infrastructure and Network Services. “There are 5,400 students taking classes on campus. Assuming all students who have reported [being vaccinated] are taking classes on campus, we are at 45 percent vaccinated.”

Assuming all students who have reported [being vaccinated] are taking classes on campus, we are at 45 percent vaccinated.”

Dennis Sage, director of infrastructure and network services

Meanwhile, faculty and staff numbers are higher.

“As of September 8th, 2021, 734 staff [have reported being vaccinated],” said Margaret Lehner, interim vice president of Institutional Advancement. 

That number appears to be creeping up as the deadline for the mandate approaches. Sage later said that of 1,122 active employees, 752 have reported they are vaccinated. “That gives a percentage of 67 percent vaccinated,” he said.

Before the deadline extension, Moraine had already put in place measures including walk-in vaccine clinics on campus and a new Cleared4Class app, which has been up and rolling at Moraine since Sept. 7.

Another vaccine clinic is scheduled for Sept. 28 from 4-8 p.m. in the M building. The college is offering a financial incentive equal to one in-district credit hour ($131) to students who show they are fully vaccinated no later than Oct. 1.

Photo by Marcus Collins
Areej Abushakra tests unvaccinated students and staff in the M building.

COVID testing is being offered in the M building. Testing is available Monday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. 

Off-campus testing is allowed but must be submitted within the Cleared4Class application, while tests done on campus will upload automatically. 

“Those that are opting for the testing, they’ll have to make sure that they get tested every seven days and really think about doing it 48 hours before,” Lehner said. 

Taking the test at least 48 hours before coming to campus is important because results can take 12-24 hours to come in, and without these results, a student cannot come to campus.

Overall, the Cleared4Class application has met with positive reviews. Students find it to be easy and quick, but its simplicity also raises legitimacy concerns. 

“Campus Clear gave a list of symptoms you can choose from, and based on what you picked, you were clear to go,” said second-year science transfer Matt Dombroski. “For the new one, it only asks two questions. If you’ve been exposed or had any of the symptoms, then it tells you if you’re good to go or not.”

Izabelle Guerrero, a second-year education major, had a similar opinion: “It asked if I was in contact with anyone with COVID and also if I’ve experienced any symptoms. It only took about two minutes to fill out.”

What happens if a student refuses to be vaccinated or submit to testing?

 “If you don’t get tested, you don’t come to class. If you don’t come to class, you can’t pass the course,” said Lehner. “If you want to opt for an online course, if there’s room in one, if the faculty member will take you this late, then you could go to that. Other than that, you’d have to drop your class.”

Students who refuse to comply with the mandate can have a complaint filed against them for violation of the Code of Student Conduct.

“A student found responsible for any violation of the Code of Student Conduct can receive a range of sanctions including but not limited to a warning, loss of privileges, college suspension, and college expulsion,” said Kent Marshall, dean of students and compliance officer.

If you don’t get tested, you don’t come to class. If you don’t come to class, you can’t pass the course.”

Margaret Lehner, interim vice president of Institutional Advancement

The authenticity of vaccination cards as well as tests will be verified with the school. 

“We are contracting with Cleared4Class to verify that the vaccination cards are legitimate,” Lehner said. “The on-campus COVID test results are verified and uploaded into our system by South Chicago Lab. Tests that were done off-campus, official results must be copied and uploaded into the system by the individual. Checks are done for legitimacy.”

Marshall did reveal there were issues in the past with false vaccination submissions. “No student has been referred to the conduct process for not complying with these mandates in this first week,” he said. “However, we have responded to students furnishing false information regarding the vaccine.”

Administrators say all they want to do is to keep everyone on campus as safe as possible during this unprecedented time. 

“Ultimately, this is a work in progress,” Lehner said. “Our crystal balls really aren’t working very well. We can’t anticipate all of these things. We just take it as it comes and do the best we can. And try to keep everyone safe and healthy. Bottom line.”