Dallas College to offer cash for vaccination

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Illustration by Mattheau Faught/The Et Cetera

BY HARRIET RAMOS, Editor in Chief

The Dallas College Board of Trustees approved a financial incentive for students and employees who can submit proof of their COVID-19 vaccination.

Employees will receive up to $500 and students $200, Chancellor Joe May announced at the Aug. 19 board meeting. May said it is a way to thank those who make the effort to get vaccinated and encourage all employees and students to take that step.

“We’re trying to put our thumbs on the scale,” May said at the Aug. 20 Conference Day for employees. “We believe that masks, social distancing [and] other precautions are really buying us time until we can get everyone vaccinated.”

To receive the $500 incentive, employees should submit proof of COVID-19 vaccination through the Med+Proctor portal, available via My Apps in SharePoint starting Aug. 30.

Students will receive an email with further instructions and a link to submit proof of vaccination. Starting Aug. 30, the link will also be available on the Dallas College COVID-19 vaccination incentive webpage.

Information on how to get vaccinated is found on the Dallas College COVID-19 information website dallascollege.edu/covid19.

Anand Upadhyaya, the program lead for the Male Student Success Program, said he is glad to see Dallas College offer the financial incentive.

“The conversation around vaccines can be difficult, with multiple personal narratives and identities leading to people’s decisions,” Upadhyaya said. “But overall, vaccines are overwhelmingly safe and represent our best collective defense against COVID-19.”

Jonathan Boyer, who plays baseball at Brookhaven, said he disagrees with the decision to offer an incentive to boost vaccination numbers.

“Authority figures are treating the vaccine like it’s the only way humanity will survive the pandemic and in a lot of ways demonizing individuals who decide not to get the vaccine,” Boyer said. “With companies mandating vaccines, and it seems like soon cities and states following in their footsteps, it’s concerning to say the least.”

Boyer said he believes a lot of research went into the COVID-19 vaccines, but he is concerned about the possibility of  future side effects.

According to information from the Dallas College COVID-19 dashboard, a total of 23 positive cases were self-reported by Dallas College employees and students for the month of August.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Dallas County. On  Aug. 19 an additional 1,040 positive cases and four deaths were reported, according to the Dallas County Health and Human Services. That is up from the 726 confirmed cases reported by the DCHHS on July 30.

In spite of the rise in COVID-19 cases across Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott maintains that the decision to wear a mask is a personal choice. In July he issued an executive order banning COVID-19 restrictions, including masks.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins obtained a restraining order against Gov. Greg Abbott’s injunction and issued a mask mandate for Dallas County, effective Aug. 12. Jenkins’ mandate was blocked by the Texas Supreme Court on Aug. 15. Jenkins amended the order to remove fines for non-compliance but left the mandate in effect.

Dallas College made masks a requirement on campus for all employees and students on Aug. 12.

The money for the vaccination incentive will come from Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund III funds provided through the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed in March, according to the board meeting agenda.

Dallas College received nearly $75 million from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, according to the HEERF Report for Dallas College.

May said employees will receive the payment as a direct deposit with their paycheck once they provide proof of full vaccination.

Students will receive $100 after showing proof of the first vaccination and $100 more after the second. Students who are already fully vaccinated will receive up to $200 upon submission of proof.

Information from the board of trustees agenda said the payments will be made irrespective of the vaccination date. The incentive ends Nov. 15.