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Our View: For higher ed, a return to something like normal

By   /   Friday, August 13th, 2021  /   Comments Off on Our View: For higher ed, a return to something like normal

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Amid all the handwringing about the delta variant and concern about vaccine hesitancy, let’s remember one thing that’s different about the fall of 2021.

Our colleges and universities — the economic engines of our innovation culture — are returning to live instruction and taking proactive steps to deal with year two of COVID-19.

They have achieved an acceptable level of risk by adopting a combination of vaccine mandates, masking recommendations and mandates, testing and other protocols. From Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo to Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, and in between, colleges and universities are ready for the fall.

In recent days, Santa Barbara City College, Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and the Ventura County Community College District have taken similar steps toward vaccine mandates, putting tens of thousands of students back in the game of safely seeking post-secondary degrees or professional certificates. We’d encourage the Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo to look into the proper protocols so that it can return its campus to something like normal operations and put most of its students back in the classroom.

Getting this far was not easy. It took courageous administrators, a degree of creativity, and a willingness to make a stand and accept the science. It also took courage to face up to unions looking for extended remote work and levels of certainty that make risk-taking impossible.

This will not be perfect. We are staring at a fall with rising COVID-19 infection rates and some likely increase in deaths. There have been a few breakthrough infections among those who are fully vaccinated and many of us will likely receive a booster shot, perhaps by the end of the year.

But getting our colleges and universities back up and running gives the economy a shot in the arm, and restarts a crucial source of talent and innovation for the future.

It is a welcome development that reflects the courage of our academic leaders and their ability to manage under difficult circumstances.

VOTE IN THE RECALL ELECTION

Ballots are heading out in the mail for the Sept. 14 recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom, an election that has had its share of twists and turns.

Once considered a long shot, the recall gathered momentum after a couple of bone-headed moves by Newsom, a Democrat who is more centrist than his opponents like to paint him.

Having met the signature threshold for making the ballot, there are dozens of candidates with no clear frontrunner and no one candidate endorsed by the GOP.

No candidate has the star power of Arnold Schwarzenegger, so, if the recall succeeds it is possible that a social media influencer or a radio pundit could be the next governor. One of the leading establishment candidates, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Falconer, is an Oxnard native.

Meanwhile, a Democratic Party that was highly motivated in 2018 and managed a decent turnout in 2020 has been seized with apathy.

Our position is a simple one: Whatever your political persuasion, take time to fill out your ballot and vote in the 2021 recall.

If you believe in the power of self-government, please exercise that power.

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