ATTLEBORO — Students and staff at Bristol Community College and the 14 other community colleges in Massachusetts will have to be vaccinated for the coronavirus by Jan. 1 to go on campus, it was announced Monday.
Bristol is based in Fall River but has a campus in Attleboro.
Students who choose not to be vaccinated will be restricted to online courses and won’t be able to access on-campus services after the start of the new calendar year.
“This is an important decision that will bring all of us one step closer to safely being together at our college locations again,” Bristol President Laura Douglas said. “Bristol will be able to increase face-to-face courses, support services and activities that are so critical to the success of our students.
“The health and safety of our college community must be our top priority. To date, we have not had any transmissions at any of our campuses that we know of. We believe this is due to the strict protocols and standards we follow — and the cooperation of our students, faculty and staff.
“The COVID-19 vaccination is proven to be safe and effective. We strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
The college presidents announced their vaccine mandate in a joint statement.
“During the last eighteen months, the Massachusetts Community Colleges have prioritized the health and safety of our communities while also recognizing that many of our students have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the presidents said. “While a significant number of students, faculty, and staff are already vaccinated or are in the process of becoming vaccinated, the fifteen colleges are seeking to increase the health and safety of the learning and working environment in light of the ongoing public health concerns and current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
As participants in the White House’s COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge, Massachusetts community colleges will continue to make vaccine clinics available on campuses.
The four University of Massachusetts campuses require COVID-19 vaccinations as do most private higher education institutions throughout the state, Douglas pointed out.