COVID-19 testing provided for students on campus


From school reports

SCOOBA — Dr. Cameron Huxford and registered nurse Kathleen Hilbun with OCH Regional Medical Center in Starkville tested 101 East Mississippi Community College students for COVID-19 Thursday afternoon at the college’s Scooba campus in a community outreach effort to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Students involved in activities that might bring them into close contact with others were tested, including athletes and members of the choir and Mighty Lion Band.

“We identified students for testing whose activities require proximity to others that might put them at a higher risk for contracting or spreading COVID-19,” EMCC President Dr. Scott Alsobrooks said. “This will be ongoing and next week testing will take place on our Golden Triangle campus for students enrolled in Division of Nursing and Allied Health programs, Diesel Mechanics and other programs which require students to take labs on campus.”

Huxford, Hilbun and OCH are not charging EMCC for the testing. EMCC will pay the cost to have the tests processed at independent labs using a portion of federal CARES Act funds, Alsobrooks said.

Huxford, who is a pulmonary critical care physician at OCH, said testing can help mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus by those who are unaware they have the disease.

Although classes at EMCC classes started Monday, the decision was made to conduct the classes virtually at first given rising COVID-19 cases in the state. Students who enrolled in-person classes may return to EMCC campuses Sept. 8 if it is deemed safe for them to do so. EMCC is also offering virtual, online and hybrid classes during the fall term for those students who prefer not to take in-person classes.

Students enrolled in classes that require lab work may return to campus at the discretion of individual instructors. Those students, as well as those who reside on campus, will be given priority for COVID-19 testing.

The EMCC Department of Athletics announced earlier this week the school’s football team would not participate in league play for the fall 2020 season if league play begins Oct. 1 as planned due to safety challenges presented by the pandemic.

The students will still practice, however, and some of the football players and other athletes will move into residential halls this weekend. Alsobrooks said he is aware of a few students tested Thursday who said they had COVID-19 over the summer when they were not in school, but that they were being tested again.

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