BOONEVILLE • Hundreds of Northeast Mississippi Community College students are quarantined after nine positive COVID-19 cases on campus since in-person classes resumed on Aug. 3.
NEMCC President Dr. Ricky G. Ford shared the update during Wednesday’s episode of the college’s Tiger Talk podcast, saying that “around 300” NEMCC students are currently quarantined due to potential exposure to the virus.
With 3,034 students currently enrolled at NEMCC, that’s around 10% of the total student population in quarantine.
There are also “about 25 to 28” of the college’s approximately 300 employees in quarantine, according to Ford.
The college is requiring students and faculty to wear masks in classrooms and continues to encourage social distancing and hand washing. But there has been some confusion among students about quarantine protocols.
“We’ve had students that are on quarantine that have come to class and said ‘Well I didn’t think I was quarantined from all my classes, just that one class,’” Ford said on the podcast.
He reminded students that if they are quarantined, they are to go home or to their dorms and not go out in public again for two weeks.
“We have students, and even adults, that do not show symptoms even until day 11 and 12 of their quarantine, so it’s important that we do not infect and spread the virus in other ways,” Ford said.
Another issue the college faces as students are quarantined is figuring out where to house them during that time.
“We had held back some rooms for this specific situation, for the quarantine purposes, and we’re beginning to fill those up,” Ford said.
Eighteen rooms were set aside in dorms across campus at the beginning of the semester for students who have to be moved into COVID-19 quarantine. They have not yet been filled to capacity, according to Tony Finch, NEMCC’s Vice President of Public Information.
Ford is hopeful that the rotation of students going into and coming out of quarantine will free up rooms as they are needed throughout the semester.
He praised faculty members, maintenance and facility operations employees and administrative staff for their flexibility and work so far this semester.
“I can’t say enough about the faculty, how they have been very resilient and open to change and very versatile in the things that they’re dealing with and having to deal with,” Ford said. “It’s very easy for them to be in class today teaching a face-to-face class and then tomorrow have to be fully online two weeks due to the quarantine.”
Even amidst the pandemic, NEMCC’s enrollment is up to 3,034 from 3,016 at this time last year, and students still have a couple of weeks to sign up for online classes which begin Aug. 24. There are also 272 dual-enrolled high school students who have registered for classes in fall 2020, and Ford expects that number to increase.
Considering everything that has taken place during the pandemic, Ford said he considers Northeast to be in good shape and is looking forward to a successful year.
“We’ve got to learn to live in this new environment that we’re in because it’s not going away anytime soon,” Ford said. “So we’ve got to learn to navigate through it, we’ve got to learn to still get the job done regardless of what might happen.”