CALDWELL, Idaho — The College of Idaho wants to begin its fall semester with in-person learning and a fully vaccinated student population.
“If we can get a high enough percentage of our students vaccinated early enough in the summer, we feel like we can safely open up our campus to be in-person classes, in-person residency, in-person events,” said Joe Hughes, Director of Communications and Marketing for the campus. “Pretty close to what it looked like pre-pandemic but without masks because people will be vaccinated.”
The college sent a letter, explaining to students and faculty that the campus would like to move into phase six of its reopening plan, which includes in-person dining, activities, clubs, and lab work.
“We all want to return to those experiences we have missed so much, and that is such an integral part of the full educational and residential experience we provide. The way to achieve this is through vaccines and reaching herd immunity or “pack” immunity as the Yotefam prefers to call it, which we conservatively determine to be around 80% of our campus community fully vaccinated. We have been given the gift of an extremely effective and safe vaccine, with nearly 100% protection from COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths.”
The campus is offering incentives to encourage students to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Everyone who shows proof of vaccination to our wellness center automatically gets a coupon to our college store and they get entered into a drawing for 10 different prizes if they can get to us in the middle of July. We’re trying to get that middle of summer so we can prepare how things look based on the number of vaccinations that we are seeing,” Hughes said.
Due to recent changes to CDC guidelines and a decrease in COVID-19 cases in the state, the college feels confident it can offer those in-person classes.
“We had almost non-existent cases here among our campus community. I think we had one or two off-campus cases in the last month or maybe two months,” Hughes said.
Hughes said students and faculty aren’t required to share their vaccine status, but they will need to submit their information to enter into the prize drawings.
“I think most schools are really hoping to have as much in-person learning, face-to-face learning, as safely as possible going to into the fall which is why we’re taking those steps now to try and encourage as much vaccination as we can,” he said.
If students would like to participate in the prize drawings after getting their COVID-19 vaccine, they can submit information to the school’s health and wellness center by July 15.
Hughes said Brandi Limbago, a CDC scientist and 1994 graduate from the school, produced a video and shared a message to students about the COVID-19 vaccine.