The New Mexico Military Institute is in the midst of a 14-day quarantine of cadets as the school is dealing with 63 employees and cadets who have COVID-19 and remain isolated from others.
On Monday, the high school and junior college began its quarantine of cadets in their barracks. It also stopped visitors to campus, or Post, to stop further spread of the coronavirus. The quarantine is expected to last until Oct. 29.
“As soon as the overall quarantine period is over on 29th, we will lift the quarantine and cadets will return to regular activities,” said Maj. Gen. Jerry Grizzle, NMMI president and superintendent.
Parents will be allowed to visit only in special situations or emergencies. In addition, all NMMI facilities, such as Pearson Auditorium and the Godfrey Athletic Center, are closed to the public for five weeks.
The Institute is posting regular updates on its website, which includes a dashboard to track the status of COVID-19 cases.
Support Local Journalism
Subscribe to the Roswell Daily Record today.
Support Local Journalism
The Wednesday update showed that two employees and 61 cadets, including 53 still residing at NMMI, have current COVID-19 diagnoses and are in isolation. Some cadets are allowed to quarantine off-Post. Since the fall semester began in July, 84 cadets and eight employees have tested positive.
Grizzle said all cadets testing positive have been asymptomatic, so no hospitals or infirmary stays have been required.
According to the posted updates, the quarantine decision was made in cooperation with the New Mexico Department of Health and New Mexico Higher Education Department after the Institute learned on Oct. 14 that two cadets who had COVID-19 tests off-campus without the knowledge of the Institute had positive results but had not quarantined after taking the tests. The Institute first attempted to identify all the close contacts of those two cadets, but because so much time had elapsed since the tests were done, the Institute chose instead to test all cadets and employees.
On Oct. 15, all cadets still residing on Post, which numbered about 700 at that time, were tested. The next day, tests were done on about 320 employees. Those tests turned up two positive cases among employees and 60 among cadets, leading to the decision to put in place a quarantine starting Monday.
Tuesday’s numbers showed 71 total active cases, 69 being cadets and 57 of those at NMMI.
Quarantine means that classes are held online until at least Oct. 30, and that only small groups of students are permitted out of the barracks at a time for meals, exercise and other necessary activities. Cadets who test positive are isolated from other cadets, but interact with staff daily. Mental health and spiritual resources also are provided to cadets who want that, according to NMMI.
Cadets can choose to quarantine at their homes in New Mexico if they agree to certain parameters, with out-of-state students able to quarantine in New Mexico if they find an adult to sponsor them. If cadets leave Post, they have to take at least two COVID-19 tests upon their return, at their own expense, while being quarantined until the second negative test result is obtained.
“Please know that this quarantine is to the benefit of all cadets, staff and faculty at NMMI,” Grizzle wrote in one of his updates. “We want to end the semester strong — and in person. It is our strong desire to have face-to-face instruction again next semester, and, with the cooperation of the Corps, our families and everyone at NMMI, we trust that this can happen.”
Questions to a spokesperson for the state departments were not answered by press time.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.