On Wednesday, Oct. 25, the Bellevue College President’s Office sent out an email listing policies and procedures that are under consideration for removal. Included in that list are policies 6460 and 6460P2, a series of guidelines and regulations surrounding employee COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Currently, under Policy 6460, all Bellevue College employees (even volunteers) are required to “be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 using an authorized vaccine” or “ask for an authorized exemption,” with the fully vaccinated status being reached after the second dose (in a two-dose vaccine) or after a single-dose vaccine, and medical or religious reasons being the only exemptions. Under Policy 6460P2, Bellevue College employees are required to fill out an online Employee Vaccination Attestation Form to confirm their vaccination status or request an exemption for vaccination.
As for the rationale behind the potential removal of COVID-19 vaccination requirements for employees, Bellevue College cited the ending of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency declaration on May 11, 2023, and the rescinding of directive 22-13.1 (a policy that mandated COVID-19 vaccination for Washington state employees) on the same date as key catalysts. While there may be confusion about the timing of this proposal (it has been six months since May 2023), Bellevue College policy requires a 45-day public comment period for any policy modifications (as per the Bellevue College Instructions for Policy and Procedure Formation and Associate Director of Policies and Special Projects Lori Keller). A public comment period of 45 days in May 2023 would have bled past the duration of the spring quarter.
This proposal continues a trend of Bellevue College gradually removing policies instituted during the height of the pandemic: A COVID-19 vaccination requirement put in place on July 26, 2021, that included students is no longer in effect, and a mask mandate for all students and staff while indoors expired on May 2, 2022. Even still, Bellevue College maintains the importance of “[limiting] the spread of COVID-19 and [minimizing] the risk of serious illness and death” by encouraging people to stay home when sick, wear a mask if exposed to the virus and follow COVID-19 vaccination recommendations.
If you’re interested in voicing concerns about this proposal or have questions about the ramifications of the change brought about by this proposal, you can submit a comment on this public comment form, which is available until Dec. 11, 2023.