HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Just as students are returning to campus, a college in Hot Springs is taking extra measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Just as classes are set to begin at National Park College, the delta variant is causing coronavirus cases to spike.
“We thought we were out of the woods and now we’re back in the thick of it,” NPC President Dr. John Hogan said.
Dr. Hogan said they’ve felt the impact of the pandemic personally.
“Unfortunately, one of our employees passed away from a COVID infection over the summer. I think that influences our collective conscience,” Dr. Hogan said.
With that in mind and talking with faculty and healthcare professionals, they decided to start some classes virtually, require masks indoors regardless of vaccination status and weekly COVID tests for those who haven’t had the shot.
“We’re going to take the safest possible route that we can take. This is the best way to mitigate the spread,” Dr. Hogan said.
Along with those safety protocols, mental health is a top priority for staff.
“We are not equipped to take care of other people if we can’t take care of ourselves,” Dr. Hogan said.
Wednesday, they hosted a mental health session for faculty like Susan Millerd.
“We all came back this fall in hopes that we would be back to normal only to find out that we’re not,” Millerd said.
She said that back and forth has been tough, but she is happy with the protocols in place.
“Now I think we have some clarity on what’s going to happen and I’m feeling very comfortable,” Millerd said.
She expects low numbers this fall.
“We have an excellent plan for keeping everybody safe on campus,” Millerd said.
Dr. Hogan said they will re-evaluate their safety measures by September 17th. He said the goal is to have 75% of staff and students fully vaccinated.