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Schools preparing to bring students back as COVID-19 cases rise, variant concerns increase

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jul 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-27 11:00:50-04

TWIN FALLS, Idaho — South Central Idaho has seen a rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases recently, including a confirmed a case of the Delta variant in Twin Falls County.

Despite the upward trend of COVID-19 cases, schools in the area are still planning for regularly scheduled classes when the new semester starts in less than a month.

“A lot of the schools, from what we’ve heard, are going to go in with fewer precautions than they took last year," said Logan Hudson, the division administrator for the South Central Public Health District. "Most of them are not going to have mask mandates and things like that.”

Since schools have a greater understanding of COVID-19 than they did last year, and because some students and staff have taken preventive measures, officials are attempting to provide as normal of an experience as possible.

“The fact that there is going to be some kids that are vaccinated, at least in the middle and high school level, that’s going to help a little bit," said Hudson. "There’s probably a handful of kids that had the disease and will have some natural immunity so that should help too.”

The health district has voiced some concerns regarding the Delta variant, especially since the area's vaccination rate is low in the middle school and high school age groups.

“It is always concerning that you put thousands of people, many of whom who have not had the disease or are not vaccinated, into nine or ten buildings in our community, you’re really driving up the chance that that disease is going to spread through that population,” said Hudson.

The health district has been in regular communication with schools throughout the Magic Valley over the past few weeks and will continue to do so once the academic year starts.

“We’ll give whatever guidance is out there and say, 'This is the recommendation and you guys have to do whatever is best for your school,'” said Hudson.