Senate Statement regarding Delaware Technical Community College Vax Policy

Posted on 01-23-2022

We oppose the recent policy issued by Delaware Technical and Community College mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for incoming students. It is antithetical to the college’s purpose and abuses the authority of a public institution to force many Delawareans down a path they do not want to take.
In announcing DelTech’s new vaccination policy, President Mark Brainard said the college would require all students registering for the summer and fall semesters to show proof of vaccination. Additionally, starting May 1, DelTech will require that any member of the public coming to any college facility for any reason (including workforce training) be vaccinated.
Dr. Brainard’s actions are overbearing and violate his own institution’s mission statement:
“Students are at the center of everything we do. We empower students to change their lives through comprehensive educational opportunities and supportive services. As the state’s only community college, we provide quality education that is accessible, relevant, and responsive to labor market and community needs while contributing to Delaware’s economic vitality. We value all individuals and provide an inclusive environment that fosters equity and student success.”
Erecting barriers to prevent people from entering DelTech’s facilities makes educational opportunities less available. Disregarding the understandable concerns of people who do not wish to be injected with substances that may carry substantial health implications for them is not inclusive, equitable, or tolerant.
Ironically, DelTech has received three significant distributions under the Higher Education Relief Fund (HEERF) as part of the federal government’s COVID relief response. This funding is specifically to support “institutions of higher education to serve students and ensure learning continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.” DelTech’s new policy subverts this intent.
In the current economy, our citizens are more in need of job training than ever. Thousands of job vacancies throughout the state are causing supply chain disruptions, forcing businesses to curtail operations, and hindering the goods and services available to all Delawareans. Now is not the time to further exacerbate this situation by imposing a misguided policy that will prevent people from getting the education needed to fill open positions.
Finally, Dr. Brainard’s policy is mistimed, poorly considered, and not supported by his rationale for it. He claims that due to the current spread of COVID, he must force students to be vaccinated several months from now, when DelTech’s summer and fall semester registration opens.
We have no idea what conditions will present themselves this spring, let alone what will happen this summer and fall. Past pandemics, like that Spanish Flu, have taken about two years to fully run their course. We are rapidly approaching the two-year mark of COVID-19’s arrival in Delaware and there is evidence the situation is improving.
In the most recent COVID-19 data issued by state health officials, there were significant declines in the 7-day average of new positive cases, hospitalizations, and the number of people receiving critical care.
As the president of Delaware’s only public community college, which is supported annually by millions of dollars in taxpayer money, Dr. Brainard has an obligation to serve the citizens of this state. However, his policy is leveraging the desperation of people in critical need of job training and other educational opportunities to coerce vaccination compliance. This is not a policy of public service; it is protocol for public submission. This is wrong and it needs to end.
We call for DelTech to reverse its policy of mandatory vaccinations and return to being the open and inclusive institution it claims to be.
Sincerely,
State Rep. Charles Postles
State Rep. Jesse Vanderwende
State Rep. Danny Short
State Rep. Lyndon Yearick
State Rep. Shannon Morris
State Rep. Rich Collins
State Rep. Ruth Briggs King
Sen. Brian Pettyjohn
Sen. Gerald Hocker
Sen. Dave Lawson
Sen. Dave Wilson

The college’s updated policy can be found here: Delaware Tech Commnity College Vaccination