E&H Creating a Post-Pandemic “Normal”

Guest Contributor, Lauren Boyda

With the recent announcement of the Emory & Henry College’s intentions for in-person learning for the upcoming fall semester, as well as an in-person commencement ceremony in May, signs are pointing to a new “normal” on the horizon for the college community.

Following the initial onset of COVID-19, Emory & Henry College outlined and implemented guidelines, policies, and procedures to work toward completely in-person learning sometime in the future.

“The day-to-day operations have stayed the same,” said Dr. Matthew Frederick, Associate Provost and Dean of Academic Affairs, reflecting on the college’s experience with COVID-19 protocols. “We are still as focused as ever on student success, even though we may be working in different environments. The emphasis on students remains the same.”

Part of focusing on student needs and success as a crucial component of the college’s ability to return to in-person learning involves the rapidly increasing amount of COVID-19 vaccinations in the region.

Dr. Frederick feels that the expectation for students in the upcoming semester is to get their doses (or single dose, if taking the Johnson-Johnson vaccine) of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition to academic success in the new and hopeful semester, the college has also looked toward student affairs outside of the classroom, including allowing more capacity at athletic and social events on campus.

“Some of the conflicts resulting from remote learning have been that students are staying on campus more during weekends,” Sam Lopez, Director of Housing and Residence Life, said. This provided a unique challenge for Housing and Residence Life during the former, more strenuous COVID-19 protocols.

It is because of this challenge, though, that Lopez feels confident for the future.

“I think it’s going to take the college and student organizations having an intentional approach to programming for all on-campus events to get by,” she said. “I have already seen this occur within Campus Recreation.”

Lopez also credited Dylan Johnson, Director of Campus Recreation, for building “a robust program with workout classes (Zumba, Spin, Yoga, etc.) and building a team of student leaders to create the Club Sports Organization.”

This increase in community activity and engagement thrills Lopez for possibilities in the fall semester.

“It’s truly so exciting,” she said.

“I’m very excited about the programs Campus Recreation will be offering to the student body starting in the fall,” Johnson added. “For a long time, the extent of Campus Recreation had only been intramurals. Campus Recreation will now entail intramural sports, club sports, outdoor activities, and instructional fitness sessions.”

Johnson also mentioned programming for some non-athletic facilities.

“We are excited to begin facilitating events such as the Sand Volleyball Court and the Hammock Village, located in the Village Housing Area,” he said.

Moving forward, college administration and Housing and Residence Life team members are focused on hearing suggestions from students on what they would like to see offered in terms of programming, as well as ensuring that all safety protocols are in place so a post-pandemic “normal” can be achieved..