E&H Responds to Record-Breaking Class Size Amid the Delta Variant

This photo, courtesy of Jackson Arnold, displays current COVID-19 protocols in the campus dining hall.

This photo, courtesy of Jackson Arnold, displays current COVID-19 protocols in the campus dining hall.

Guest Contributor, Jackson Arnold

With the largest first-year class size in its history, Emory & Henry College is adjusting its COVID-19 plans as the Delta variant continues to surge.

A record-breaking first-year class size inflates the overall campus community, creating new obstacles in the form of quarantine and isolation zones.

If a student is diagnosed with COVID-19, they are asked to remain off-campus until they have fully recovered. However, Sam Lopez, the Director of Housing and Residence Life, explained that on-campus options are in place.

“The college has five to seven rooms for quarantine situations where a student is unable to leave campus,” Lopez said. “If the college goes beyond five positive cases, nearby hotels will be utilized to help balance these numbers.”

Another factor in the college’s updated COVID-19 protocols is the situation of increasing variants of the virus, predominantly the Delta variant.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Delta variant is currently the predominant variant of COVID-19 in the United States, and is two times more infectious than earlier forms of the virus.

Southwest Virginia, particularly Washington and Smyth counties, currently has rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, many of which have been linked to the Delta variant. To help curb these rising cases, E&H implemented a campus-wide policy stating that everyone—vaccinated or not—must wear masks indoors until Sept. 15.

Additionally, E&H now offers rapid COVID-19 Antigen testing Monday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., in Room 192 in the King Center. Community members are advised to download the NAVICA scheduling app and complete the registration prior to arriving for testing.

With the issues of on-campus protocols and the Delta variant in mind, Dean of Students Tracey Wright and the college administration remains alert.

“The college continues to monitor COVID-19 case rates both on campus and in the surrounding communities,” Wright said. “Additionally, we stay informed of CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, as well as other health officials’ guidance. We stand ready to make changes as need be.”