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Making the Grade: Idaho schools and COVID-19 this fall

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Jul 27, 2021

BOISE, Idaho — With schools back in session in the coming weeks, local districts may now need to re-think health policies. The COVID-19 vaccine is still not available for children younger than 12, and Idaho's vaccination rates for all students remain low.

In this week's Making the Grade, Michelle Edmonds talked about those statistics and possible mask mandates in schools with Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert.

15% of 12 to 15-year-olds are fully vaccinated, the lowest vaccination rate in any age group in Idaho. In the Central District Health region, which includes Ada County, the numbers are a little bit better compared to the state.

Idaho vaccination rates

But in every other health district in Idaho, including the Southwest District which includes Canyon County, the numbers are quite a bit lower. Click here to see vaccination rates in Idaho.

"So you're seeing even geographic shifts that, you know, are lurking underneath those overall numbers," said Richert. "So 15% for your 12 to 15-year olds. It moves up but not terribly much, 25% for 16 and 17-year-olds here, your high school-age students. And 32% for 18 to 24-year-olds, that would be, you know, most college students. So very low vaccination rates for students relative to Idaho's overall vaccination rate, which is one of the lowest in the nation."

The CDC reversed course Tuesday, recommending that everyone in K-12 schools wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status.

Related: CDC recommends vaccinated people wear masks indoors where virus is surging

"Children should return to full-time, in-person learning in the fall with proper prevention strategies in place," said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky.

Walensky said the CDC decided to change its mask recommendations because of new data that shows some people infected with the delta variant even after being vaccinated can spread the virus to others.