De Anza College scales back plans to return in-person and announces new booster requirements


Juliette Fesas

De Anza College administrators hoped for a return to in-person by spring, but have opted to take an incremental approach instead.

Maida Suta, Impulse and Opinions Editor

In December 2021, De Anza College announced that it aimed to be primarily in-person by spring. However, the omicron variant that surged at the beginning of the current quarter threw a wrench in those plans. 

On Feb. 28, the college announced that it would be implementing a new vaccine booster requirement for any students and faculty who wish to return in-person next quarter while also saying that they plan on scaling back social distancing measures and masking mandates as they push towards an incremental return to normal.

The announcement was made at a town hall hosted by De Anza Student Government Programs & Events. Representatives from Psychological Services, the Campus Center and Health Services were in attendance to provide updates as well.

In order to attend on-campus classes and activities next quarter, Amelia Kauweloa, a clinic nurse for Health Services, said that students will be required to upload proof that they received a COVID-19 vaccine booster in addition to either two doses of Moderna or Pfizer or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson. 

Students must submit by April 1 in order for the information to be verified before classes start. 

To further increase accessibility to COVID testing for students and faculty, the college has also opened up a drive-thru testing clinic with PCR testing on Wednesdays and distribution of rapid tests on Mondays. Although adding insurance is listed as a step on the website, Kauweloa said that they will assist and serve students regardless of insurance.

“We walk students through the process of how to deliver uninsured or unavailable information so that drive thru testing is available to all students,” Kauweloa said. “If being uninsured is a barrier to students, we also have a number of resources and how to help them sign up for CalWorks.”

The director of Health Services, Rosafel Nogra, also said that asking for insurance is federally required, but that testing will always be free for students and that the college will cover any costs and there will be no barriers to uninsured students for testing.

Although omicron forced the college to revise its plans to return to campus in the spring, De Anza President Lloyd Holmes said that the college still aims to be primarily in-person. He said that the college is emphasizing flexibility and opening further and further each quarter.

“I’ve been here almost two years and haven’t seen a (full) face-to-face campus yet. I hear about the energy and excitement of the campus that once was,” Holmes said. “And I’m looking forward to that time when I leave my office at seven o’clock at night and there’s still students sitting outside the campus center.”

Alongside plans to slowly return classes to campus, DASG advisor Maritza Arreola said that there is the potential for clubs to meet in-person in the spring quarter. She said that they are working out protocol guidelines for in-person club meetings such as requiring advisors to be in attendance and a ban on food and drinks. However nothing is official yet.

Kauweloa said that students may pursue a medical or religious exemption from vaccination. These requests must be reviewed and approved by Health Services. In the case of a medical exemption, a medical provider’s approval is also required. Students who are granted an exemption will also be asked to be tested for COVID routinely.

“It’s not as simple as emailing me a note saying ‘Hey I’d like to get a medical exemption’ that is not how that works,” Kauweloa said. “These are carefully looked at and there’s actually quite a bit of responsibility as far as weekly testing and periodically keeping charge of that.”

Starting in spring, masking will go from required to “highly recommended.” (Juliette Fesas)

In light of recent rollbacks to the mask mandate by the state and the county, masks will still be required through the remainder of

the winter quarter, and beginning in spring, masks will then shift to being “highly recommended.” 

Holmes also said that graduation will be in-person again this year while retaining successful elements from last year, such as the drive thru photo-op and the separate ceremonies held by affinity groups such as the Black Graduation and Achievement Virtual Ceremony .

“We do feel that it’s important for our students to experience a ‘normal’ graduation because we know that our students have worked so very hard,” Holmes said. “We want to give them an opportunity to experience the walking process.”

COVID-19 information can be found here. COVID-19 related messages from De Anza can be found here.  Updates on returning to campus can be found here. Requirements for students can be found here