East Central Community College in Decatur has updated its opening of school campus plan for the Fall 2021 Semester which is set to begin Monday, Aug. 16.
“In light of the recent surge in COVID cases, especially the Delta variant, and following the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH) COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for College and University Settings issued August 4, we have reevaluated and updated our opening of school plan for the Fall 2021 Semester,” said ECCC President Dr. Brent Gregory. “As stated in the original Fall 2021 return to campus plan when it was released on July 1, we must be fully prepared to make adjustments in our operations if necessary and that is what we are doing.”
Based on MSDH recommendations, ECCC will temporarily require face coverings inside all buildings and classrooms on the Decatur campus and at its locations in Choctaw, Philadelphia, Louisville, Carthage, and Forest beginning Monday, Aug. 9. The mask requirement is in effect for all students, employees, and visitors regardless of vaccination status. The only exception to the mask requirement will be private offices, dormitory rooms, and until seated in the campus dining areas.
According to the MSDH, while vaccination remains the primary public health prevention strategy to end transmission of COVID-19, consistent and correct mask use is vital to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
All students and employees will be encouraged to continue to follow recommended health and safety guidelines such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and staying at home when sick.
ECCC will continue to provide enhanced sanitation of classrooms and common areas, as well as increase the already abundant amount of hand sanitizing stations in all areas of campus.
In an effort to boost the vaccination rate of its campus community, ECCC is preparing to offer several incentives for students and employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The college will also host two free vaccination clinics sponsored by Rush Health Systems. Rush personnel will be on campus from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 18, to administer first dose vaccines and again from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 8, to administer the second dose. Rush will be offering the Pfizer vaccine.
Gregory said that the college will continue to monitor guidance from both federal and state authorities and will be fully prepared to make additional adjustments in college operations as necessary.
“We will readily comply with any new mandates that are issued” noted Gregory. “Our hope is that this mask requirement will be temporary and we will be able to return to a mask-optional campus as the number of cases of COVID-19 declines and vaccination rates increase.”