The Chancellor of Virginia’s Community College System has announced an indoor mask mandate for all community colleges in Virginia. In step with this mandate, Patrick & Henry Community College will be requiring the use of a face-covering indoors for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people on its campus starting Monday. The only exceptions for the indoor face-covering policy will be for employees who are working alone in their offices and student-athletes who are competing or actively practicing on the court.
In a statement to the college presidents, the Chancellor said this decision was made largely because transmission rates have increased substantially in every one of the 23 community colleges’ service regions. The chancellor also cited recent guidance from the CDC which urged colleges to consider requiring the use of face coverings in in-door public spaces.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have repeatedly stated our shared commitment to the safety of our students, faculty, and staff and to make safety-related decisions based on the best guidance of healthcare professionals,” VCCS Chancellor Glen DuBois wrote in his email to the college presidents. “The rise of the virus’s easily transmitted Delta variant is requiring us, once again, to reconsider what is necessary to continue to pursue our academic mission as safely as possible.”
To this sentiment, Greg Hodges, Patrick & Henry Community College’s President adds, “At P&HCC, the health and wellbeing of our students, faculty, and staff is our number one priority. If you are sick, someone you love is sick, or you are worried about becoming sick, you’re probably not focused on class. As such, doing everything we can to keep our P&H family safe goes hand-in-hand with our core mission.”
Both Chancellor DuBois and President Hodges stress that the situation caused by the pandemic is ever-changing and requires much flexibility. Students are urged to check their college emails regularly for updates regarding COVID-19 precautions and other important institution-wide notices. As of this writing, the college plans to continue offering a full range of in-person and online courses this fall.
According to the Virginia Department of Health website, the number of cases rose by approximately 74,000 between June 22 and August 3 with more than 90 percent of those new cases caused by the Delta variant. According to the Medscape website for physicians and other healthcare professionals, U.S. data show that the Delta variant is roughly twice as contagious as the initial strain of COVID-19, and unvaccinated people infected with it are more likely to need hospitalization. Although the vaccine is effective in preventing serious illness, health officials are recommending mask use by both vaccinated and unvaccinated people to reduce the spread.
Anyone needing help locating a vaccine for themselves may do so at vaccinate.virginia.gov. P&HCC is also offering a vaccine clinic on campus on September 7 from 12 pm to 2 pm.