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Treasure Valley Community College won't require students to get vaccinated

The campus is located in Malheur County, Oregon, which the governor categorizes as 'high-risk' for COVID-19 because of a low vaccination rate there.

ONTARIO, Ore. — While large universities in Oregon are requiring students and staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19, the state's community colleges are taking a wait-and-see approach.

Treasure Valley Community College, based in Ontario, has decided to not require the vaccine unless the governor orders that the school do so.

Gov. Kate Brown (D-Oregon) on Tuesday announced that Malheur County is one of 11 that will remain in the "high-risk" category for COVID -- not because cases are climbing, but because the county's vaccination rate, 38.4%, is the lowest in Oregon.

"It's a little bit still in flux. There is a recommendation that they require (vaccination), but it's not a mandate yet," said Abby Lee, associate vice president of college relations for TVCC.

Masks are required at the college. So why not require students to get the COVID vaccine?

"Universities are a little bit different than community colleges, and we are a community college, so we have a lot more commuter students, we have a lot of students who live at home and then come to campus more so than some of the larger communities," Lee said. "Right now it really is about encouraging people to get vaccines rather than mandating it."

Lee also said she believes community college boards will exercise their authority to set policy based on what is happening in local communities.

TVCC has hosted vaccine clinics on campus, and Lee said she has been impressed with the turnout.

"There will be a lot of universities and schools across the country that will require vaccinations, and our students have a choice to attend those," she said. "I think just as important that there should be schools where it is continuing to be a choice."

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