City College headquarters
San Diego Community College District headquarters. Photo by Chris Stone

A consortium of 10 community colleges in San Diego and Imperial counties on Thursday urged employees and students to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as they are eligible.

The colleges, which serve more than 200,000 students in the two counties, have been offering mostly online learning for the 2020-21 academic year because of the pandemic. Only a limited number of classes and labs that train essential workers have been offered at the campuses.

“Widespread vaccinations will allow our colleges to start reopening our campuses this fall and to continue to offer the top-quality education that our students want and deserve,” the statement reads.

Leaders of the San Diego, Palomar, Grossmont-Cuyamaca, Imperial, MiraCosta and Southwestern college districts, endorsed the plea.

San Diego County opened vaccinations to educators, which includes employees at community college districts, on Feb. 27. Educators in Imperial County were eligible five days earlier.

The statement notes that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the vaccines to be the safest and the most effective way to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The three vaccines now available meet the Food and Drug Administration’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality, and are undergoing intensive safety monitoring.

“We are eager to begin safely returning to our campuses this fall so that we can welcome back our students and offer them a full range of in-person services,” said Lynn Neault, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.

She is also president of the consortium, San Diego & Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association, which has six member districts.