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Will Idaho colleges, universities require students to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Rather than requiring students to get vaccinated, Idaho's higher education institutions will continue to educate and strongly encourage students to get the vaccine.

BOISE, Idaho — Nearly all of Idaho's college students will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by early April. While students may be eligible, however, they will not be required to be vaccinated at several of the Gem State's colleges and universities.

With Idaho's vaccine rollout moving swiftly through the priority groups, all Idahoans aged 16 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by April 5. Some health districts have already opened vaccine appointments to everyone, such as Central District Health (CDH) and Panhandle Health District in North Idaho.

Some Idahoans may be required to get the vaccine by their employer, but Idaho's universities have adopted another approach. Rather than requiring students to get vaccinated, they will continue to educate students about the vaccine and strongly encourage them to get it.

Here's what Idaho colleges and universities are doing regarding student vaccination:

The College of Idaho (Caldwell)

Idaho's oldest private liberal arts college will not require students to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"We decided that we are going to strongly, strongly recommend that everyone in our campus community-staff, faculty, and students- get the vaccine,” Cynthia Mauzerall of Health and Wellness at the College of Idaho said.

While students and staff at C of I will not be required to get vaccinated, the university is still talking about potentially making it mandatory for students who participate in college-assisted travel, such as sports teams.

"It really appears at this point that a majority of universities will go with just strongly recommending in the hopes that you educate," Mauzeall said. "We are an institution of higher education. We believe in science and research, that if we educate our community, people will just want to and willingly get on board with this."

College of Western Idaho (Nampa)

CWI students attending both Boise and Nampa campuses will not be required to get the vaccine.

"It's not a requirement for students, nor staff, nor faculty," CWI Vice President Mark Browning said. "We encourage everyone to use their best judgment to do what's in their best interest, to do what best for their personal health and safety."

CWI does not offer on-campus housing or centralized food options, putting them at a slighter risk of a campus outbreak of COVID-19.

“Yes, we are serving 30,000 students annually, but many of those students never actually come to campus," Browning said. "Many of those functions that have been a real challenge for other colleges and universities to maintain during the pandemic, we have been able to take that effort and turn it directly toward students and instruction."

Boise State University (Boise)

Idaho's second-largest four-year university does not have plans to require vaccination at this time. 

A spokesperson for the university sent out a statement regarding student vaccination:

At this time, Boise State is not requiring students to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to attend classes on campus. Our focus since the beginning of the pandemic has been on education, teaching students the benefits of face coverings, physical distancing and hand washing. As we move into the next phase of recovery, our focus will be on educating students about the advantages of getting vaccinated both for their personal health and for the health of our community.

College of Southern Idaho (Twin Falls)

The state's largest community college will not require students, including those living on campus, to be vaccinated.

A spokesperson for the college sent out a statement regarding student vaccination:

The College of Southern Idaho does not plan to require students who live on campus to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. In keeping with past college practices, CSI will continue to encourage students who live in the residence hall and campus apartments to ensure that their vaccinations are up-to-date and will also encourage students to take other voluntary health and safety precautions to ensure that we maintain a safe environment for all students.

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