Guest contributor, Danielle Babcock
On Thursday, Mar. 11, Emory & Henry College released a statement announcing its return to in-person learning in the upcoming fall semester. On the following day, Dean of Students, Ryan Bowyer, emailed the college community with opportunities to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
After last semester with a relatively low on-campus student population and two seven-week mostly virtual class sessions, the college returned to a more traditional setting this semester; more students now reside on campus, but the number is still relatively low compared to before the pandemic, and some classes are still held virtually.
According to a news release, “The College’s goal is to welcome all students back to campus and return to a normal academic calendar, increased face-to-face instruction and recreational campus activities” for the upcoming fall semester.
The news release also included President Dr. John Wells’s emphasis on safety for a more normal campus atmosphere.
“Our main priority will remain the health and safety of the Emory & Henry community,” Dr. Wells’s statement read. “The College’s COVID-19 task force has been monitoring the situation and is optimistic that we can return to a sense of normalcy soon.”
The news release also stated that even as the campus travels toward a more traditional semester, COVID-19 guidelines will be followed and enforced.
“The College will continue to follow the most up-to-date guidelines from the state health department,” it read, “and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as it pertains to social distancing, wearing masks and gathering.”
Many students signed up to receive the Pfizer-BioTech vaccine at a pop up clinic in Abingdon, Virginia, after seeing Dean Bowyer’s email about an opportunity for students to get vaccinated at the pop up clinic.
The clinic is located in a vacant Hallmark store in the Old Towne Center in Abingdon, and is sponsored by the Abingdon Food City.
This partnership between Food City and E&H was made in regards to the increase in the frequency of COVID-19 vaccinations on a national and local level.
“We partnered with Food City as major pharmacies are receiving vaccine allocation,” Dean Bowyer explained.
Students who signed up were able to get vaccinated on either Tuesday, Mar. 16 or Friday, Mar. 19.
Senior Hannah Kestner received her vaccination on Tuesday.
“I am very thankful that E&H partnered with Food City for this clinic,” Kestner said. “I work in two public schools and wanted to do my part in keeping my students and family safe.”
As more students get vaccinated, it will change the outlook for campus activities in the fall.
“Vaccinations are the quickest way we could fully open campus and return to some level of normal,” Dean Bowyer said. “Further, as the CDC has indicated, if members of the college community are fully vaccinated, direct contact with a positive case will not require quarantining.”
The fall 2021 semester is set to begin on Aug. 16.
As more vaccinations are given, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to upload a picture of their complete COVID-19 vaccination card into a Google form, which can be found included in the daily COVID-19 self-check email.