Students move-in as the delta variant surges

Tana+Gray+%28left%29%2C+Yoland+Bellard+%28middle%29+and+Alicia+Waterstract+%28right%29+start+moving+in+for+a+new+year+at+Northwestern+State+University+of+Louisiana.

Kaleb Gauthier

Tana Gray (left), Yoland Bellard (middle) and Alicia Waterstract (right) start moving in for a new year at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

At 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, students were welcomed back to Northwestern State University of Louisiana by Residential Life staff on a humid, hot day that ended in heavy rain. Leaving students, parents and staff rushing to finish packing into their new homes for the year to beat the weather.

Students came back not just facing a new chapter in their lives, but the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
As of Aug. 14, the Louisiana Department of Health reported Louisiana has 7,500 new cases, 57 deaths and 2,907 hospitalizations due to COVID-19. In response to Louisiana’s record-breaking COVID-19 cases, Gov. John Bel Edwards reinstated the statewide mask mandate.

The Louisiana Department of Health also reported young adults ranging from ages 18 to 29, especially those in college, have the most cases statewide and the lowest vaccination rates when compared to other age groups.
Natchitoches Parish remains a high-risk area for COVID-19.

Despite it all, new and returning students not only brought with them their luggage to NSU during move-in week, but an atmosphere of optimism regarding COVID-19 and the new school year.

Students expressed relative ease with the move-in process and followed COVID-19 procedures in the dorms of NSU. NSU students moving in were required to wear a mask and could bring up to two visitors to help them move into their dorms.

“I’m not nervous, other than financial worries,” Liam Pickering, a freshman music business major, said. “I don’t really see much to be nervous about.”

Pickering, one of the newest residents of Varnado Hall, was an early move-in due to being a member of the Spirit of Northwestern Marching Band.

“I feel people need to just get on with their lives, and just get the vaccine,” Ja’Nia Wallace, a freshman music education major, said.

“I’m comfortable with how NSU is dealing with COVID-19. They are allowing students to have freedom while being cautious,” Isaac Fowler, a freshman biology major, said.

“I feel safe because I wear a mask and eat vitamins,” Troy Bradley, a sophomore business administration major, said.

Students have experienced the trials and struggles of a COVID-19 world with mask mandates and shutdowns of major events. But despite the hurdles of COVID-19, returning and new students are settling on campus and preparing for the year ahead.