(WSIL) -- The CDC has relaxed mask guidelines for fully vaccinated people, but that doesn't include everyone, or kids who are younger than 16.
"It really compliments those who are vaccinated and what they can more so do out in the community."
Director of Health Education at the Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department, Carrie Eldridge, says the new CDC guidlines help communicate what is safe and what is not, depending on whether or not you've been vaccinated.
There are no approved vaccines for anyone 15 and under, so what is deemed safe for vaccinated adults will not apply to most youth. West Frankfort Superintendent, Matt Donkin, says risky behaviors among students is already a concern.
"There are some who continue to hang out and not follow protocols, and on the other hand we have others who have been very observent, conservative, and strict about it, and trying to bring all of those people together and find some happy medium, and that has been a struggle all year."
"IDPH and CDC are still looking into more guidance for schools, and that's expected to be out hopefully by the end of this week," says Eldridge.
"That's kind of the situation we're in this week, just kind of figuring out where we need to land, because the other thing is, once we make a change, we don't want to go backwards and confuse everybody, so that's why we've been deliberate in how we roll things out," says Donkin.
Regardless of what changes may come for schools, their messaging is clear. School and health officials both encourage parents to not let relaxed guidance for vaccinated individuals, put unvaccinated children at risk.
"But in the meantime, we strongly encourage, everyone, and especially our school aged children, to wear your mask, to wash your hands, watch your distance, and avoid large crowds," says Eldridge.
Donkin says, "We hope people are trying to be as careful as they can. We know the frustration is pent up, we want to be able to hit the gas and get going. We're close, we're much closer, but hopefully we continue to see progress these next few months."
Eldridge says the FDA and CDC are trying to get an emergency use authorization for those under 16 -- but as of right now -- there is no set timeline.
- Want to see how many vaccines have been administered in your county? Check out our exclusive COVID-19 Tracker.
- Are you fully vaccinated? Click here for guidance from the CDC.
- Click here for the latest information from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
- Looking for local information on the COVID-19 vaccine? Click here.
- Click here for News 3 WSIL's latest coronavirus coverage.