After being away for winter break for nearly two months, campus is starting to be occupied again by students along with the potential threat of COVID-19.
As of Jan. 19, the number of cases for the winter semester has drastically differed in comparison to the fall semester. Currently, NMU has 20 active positive cases with one of them being from staff, 17 being off-campus, and two being on campus. Instead of starting the semester with students all online, COVID-19 test results were sent back in a timely order where students could attend class in person.
Due to the number of test results from the fall semester that had not been sent back, classes were pushed to online for the first week. This semester, however, students were able to go to class in person. While there were some cases that were sent out today Dr. Christopher Kirkpatrick, medical director for NMU’s health center, said that all test results are caught up except for the tests done on MLK Day.
“I think what we saw this semester was that the lab really staffed up and geared up,” Kirkpatrick said. “We didn’t see any delays in the results like last fall and they’ve been stellar so far,”
Kirkpatrick continued by saying that the results were coming back in a more timely manner compared to last semester and the quote that participants of the COVID-19 testing received were closer to accurate than last semester.
“I’m getting results reported back very quickly and certainly within the timeframe they quoted us whereas last time there was a bit of a hiccup and a delay,” Kirkpatrick said.
In regards the recent announcement of COVID-19 vaccinations, Kirkpatrick said that as of now the only people who will be receiving the vaccine will be those in the priority group of county residents who are 65 years old and older.
“As far as when we will have vaccines for general faculty, staff and students it really depends on the nationwide and supply that Michigan gets allocated,” Kirkpatrick said. “We are looking at months before it rolls out to everybody,”
According to a Jan. 13 press release from the Marquette County Health Department, a total of 845 appointments had been made.
“The majority of 517 appointments available for assignment through the web portal were taken within 30 seconds of going live,” according to the MCHD press release, “The remaining 328 appointments were completed via the MCHD phone system,”
While the MCHD still plans on continuing to vaccinate essential workers that fall into Phase 1A, the health department is planning to progress further with vaccinations and move to citizens who fall in the 65 years old and older category.
“The number of appointments available will be determined by the actual allotment of vaccine received from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services,” according to the MCHD press release.
COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be held on NMU campus in the Northern Center from Jan. 20 to Jan. 22 by appointment.
As Marquette county continues to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, safety both on and off campus still remain important as ever for community members as students, faculty and staff return back to campus.
Peter Scamperle, sophomore financial management major, said that he feels good coming back to campus after seeing the COVID-19 numbers off of Safe on Campus. As a student who commutes, Scamperle said that the places he has to go on campus are clean and he feels safe attending classes on campus.
“I feel pretty safe on campus. I think the school has done a good job of keeping us separated and when [adminstration] asks us to do something they are respectful and make sure we are comfortable doing so,” Scamperle said.
Scamperle continued by expressing his gratitude towards his professors this semester for being understanding given the new learning atmosphere that has come with COVID-19.
“When you are paying to go to school you want to get the best education you can get,” Scamperle said. “I feel like teachers are doing their best to give back what they can to make sure we get what we want out of this.”
Scamperle is hopeful for what is to come for the following school year. Scamperle said that he believes campus will still be following safety precautions for COVID-19, but ultimately will have more people trying to connect.
“While we still might have social distancing, I think there will be a lot more in-person classes and people trying to come back together,” Scamperle said. “In a pandemic, you lose your motivation and I think next year a lot more people will be motivated and happier when school becomes more open,”
As Marquette County and NMU continue to move forward in keeping everyone safe, Kirkpatrick would like to thank the nursing program and students for all their hard work during the testing that was done for NMU.
“The school of nursing and student nurses really deserve a call out for all the wonderful help they’ve given us in the fall semester and this semester,” Kirkpatrick said.
For more information about COVID-19 both on and off campus check out the MCHD’s site as well as NMU’s health center.