Home News COVID-19 Situation Quarantine ends for most NMMI cadets

Quarantine ends for most NMMI cadets

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Most but not all New Mexico Military Institute cadets have finished their COVID-19 quarantines.

All cadets of the high school and the junior college had been cleared of active cases of the coronavirus as of Friday afternoon. Two employees still reporting active cases remained isolated away from cadets.

About 541 cadets that had stayed on campus, or Post, during a two-week quarantine in the barracks that began Oct. 19 were released starting Friday morning.

“We started medically screening them yesterday and all that remain on Post have all been screened,” said Maj. Gen. Jerry Grizzle, NMMI president and superintendent, on Friday afternoon. “They have all remained asymptomatic, so all that are here have been released from quarantine. We did remain in remote education mode today, but we intend to return to the classroom Monday.”

But about 196 cadets that left Post to quarantine in homes in New Mexico were to return Friday by noon to the Godfrey Athletic Center for another round of tests, these paid for and conducted by the New Mexico Department of Health. The tests were to be flown to a lab in Albuquerque for processing.

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Those returning cadets will be required to quarantine alone in barrack rooms until a negative test result is returned. That could take anywhere from 24 hours to four days, according to information posted online by the Institute.

“Luckily we had a very good response,” Grizzle said. “We had only about nine that have not reported in. They have been instructed to show up Monday.”

Another group of cadets, about 24 who had tested positive for COVID-19 and had isolated in homes off Post, are to return to NMMI on Monday and remain in the infirmary until cleared.

Stephanie Montoya, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Higher Education Department, confirmed the information provided by the Institute about no active cases among cadets and the agreed-upon requirement for retesting and quarantines for returning students.

The original two-week cadet quarantine was announced Oct. 15. That came after NMMI decided to test all cadets and all 320 employees. The Institute said the decision was made in consultation with the Health Department and the Higher Education Department and was prompted by finding out that two cadets had tested positive for the coronavirus after taking tests off campus but not placing themselves in quarantine until their test results were known.

The campus wide testing came back originally with 60 positive tests for cadets and two positive tests for employees.

In the days following, some additional positive test results were returned, so at the peak of the outbreak, about 71 people had tested positive, with 69 of those being cadets.

Since the academic year began in July, 84 cadets and eight employees have tested positive.

Other measures NMMI took Oct. 19 to contain the virus included closing all of its buildings to public use for five weeks and curtailing most visits to campus, even by parents.

Grizzle said the plans, quarantines and testing are intended to prevent the spread of the coronavirus for the few weeks remaining in the semester.

“We hope so,” he said. “I was over there most of the morning as the cadets were returning. They were in good spirits. They all looked great. There were no symptoms. Of course, those that are returning are being tested. Those that were released were all asymptomatic. The kids are doing well as far as wearing their masks. They want to run up and hug each other because they haven’t seen each other in two weeks, so we are still working with them to remind them of the social distancing requirements. They seem very committed and very willing to do what we have asked them to do for the remaining three days and three weeks of the semester.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.