As Cal State Fullerton prepares for a blend of online and in-person classes for the 2021 fall semester, some students are concerned about whether returning to campus is a safe decision.
In an email to the Daily Titan, CSUF news media director Chi-Chung Keung said the university will not require students or employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine to maintain their enrollment or employment this fall.
"This limitation is due, in part, to the fact that the three currently approved vaccines are under Emergency Use Authorization, and individuals must be told at the time of vaccination that they have a right to refuse," Keung said. "Additionally, objections by employees and students based on their disability or religious beliefs must be accommodated."
Keung said, along with continuing face coverings and social distancing guidelines, CSUF will use education and promotional efforts to encourage employees and students to receive the COVID-19 vaccine when they are deemed eligible.
CSUF students such as Mikayla Ogas, a senior child and adolescent development major, said she is concerned about her return to campus as she understands some students and faculty may not have received the vaccine and could potentially carry the virus.
"I know it would definitely make me anxious, going back to school, and it would be really hard to focus on what I'm doing when I'm thinking about like, ‘Oh my god, what if the person next to me has COVID and I don't even know,’" Ogas said.
Ogas said she thinks that the school is doing the right thing by not mandating the vaccine in order to not discriminate against anyone. She added that the school needs to make sure that all classes are available online in the fall for those who don't want to return to in-person instruction.
Rania Saleh, a junior English major, had similar thoughts regarding the university making a mix of online and in person for those who are unable to receive the vaccine and do not want to make a choice between getting an education or their livelihood.
"I think that students should also have the right to choose whether or not they want to go back to campus," Saleh said. "I understand them not wanting to mandate the vaccine, but you're giving people an option to not take the vaccine and return to campus, so you also need to give students an option to remain online."
Others like Elona Dahi, who graduated CSUF in fall 2020 and is looking to return fall 2021 into a English graduate program, said she would feel uneasy about returning to campus.
Dahi said that if CSUF cannot mandate the vaccine then the masks should be enforced regardless of inevitable student objection. She added that if not every student can feel safe on campus, then the university should do everything they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
"I would still definitely be cautious about returning. Like as much as I do want to be back on campus, like so much, especially for the grad program, which is really more of like an in-person based experience,” Dahi said. “I would still, I don't know I would feel uneasy about it.”