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For Idaho Colleges, Vaccines Offer Hope Of Eventual Return To More Normal Operations

BY KEVIN RICHERT / IdahoEdNews.org

Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on January 18, 2021

As Idaho’s colleges and universities reopen for spring classes, campus officials are already casting a hopeful eye to the rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

At the University of Idaho, for example, students who receive a vaccine will be allowed to skip mandatory midsemester coronavirus testing.

“At this time, we do not plan to require vaccination, but it is highly recommended,” President C. Scott Green and Provost Torrey Lawrence said in a Friday memo to the campus community.

While the vaccines offer “reason for hope,” Brigham Young University-Idaho officials are urging their students to stick with established safety protocols. “Doses of the vaccine are limited, and it may take considerable time for everyone to have an opportunity to be vaccinated,” university officials said in a recent message.

It could indeed be months before college staff and students can access either coronavirus vaccine. K-12 teachers and staffers can now get the vaccine, alone with first responders, health care works and residents at long-term centers. The state has no plans to move college students or employees up the line for vaccines.

Here’s this week’s campus coronavirus case roundup.

BYU-Idaho. As of Sunday, BYU-Idaho reported 71 active student cases and one active case involving an employee.

Boise State University. Forty-five campus cases for the seven-day period ending Jan. 14, up from 20 cases the previous week. Twenty-three cases involved students who live off campus, 18 involved students living on campus, and four cases involved faculty and staff.

In all, 1.3 percent of campus coronavirus tests came back positive.

Eight of Boise State’s 153 isolation beds were occupied.

Idaho State University. Forty-four cases for a seven-day period ending Tuesday. In all, 33 cases involve students, and 37 occurred on the Pocatello campus. ISU was investigating four case clusters: three clusters connected to off-campus households, and a cluster of three cases within athletics.

University of Idaho. The U of I reported 32 positive test results from Jan. 1 to Jan. 8. About 1.7 percent of test results came back positive.

“We expect this could rise as people return to campus and (we) have been preparing to mitigate the spread and care for those who test positive,” Green and Lawrence said last week.

North Idaho College. Ten students and two employees self-reported a positive test last week, compared to 11 self-reported cases the previous week. Since July, 260 students and employees have reported a positive test.

The College of Idaho. Eight new positive tests reported since Dec. 21. Two people are isolating off-campus.

Northwest Nazarene University. Eight cases reported last week, six involving resident students and two involving employees. NNU is tracking nine active cases.

Lewis-Clark State College. Seven confirmed cases since Jan. 4. Four cases were active as of Friday, all involving students on the Lewiston campus. One student was in isolation.

College of Eastern Idaho. One case reported last week, involving a student. CEI reported three cases the previous week, and has reported a total of 152 cases since August.

College of Western Idaho. No current report.

College of Southern Idaho. No current report.

 Check Kevin Richert’s blog each Friday for a weekly roundup of statewide coronavirus trends.

Copyright 2021 Northwest Public Broadcasting