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ENMU-Roswell to allow public events again

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An ENMU-Roswell planning group has decided to allow public events on campus starting Monday. (Submitted Photo)

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Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell has decided to reopen its campus to the public next week.

An announcement was issued Tuesday afternoon from the office of President Shawn Powell.

The email stated, “The Return to Campus Planning group met this afternoon and made the following decision: Effective Monday, October 25, 2021, the ENMU-Roswell campus will be open to external public events and activities.”

The statement also indicated that face masks are required indoors, as required by the Oct. 15 public health order issued by the New Mexico Department of Health.

That order, effective until Nov. 12, indicates that all people ages 2 and older are to wear face masks when indoors unless directed otherwise by a health professional or unless eating or drinking.

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In late August, the same planning group of the local college had decided on a temporary halting of events or meetings on the campus by external groups in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among its students and employees.

Powell said that the campus had recorded more COVID cases among faculty and staff in August than at any point in the pandemic, which became a significant public health concern in New Mexico by March 2020.

“We had zero cases in July,” Powell said Tuesday. “We had 19 cases in August and we had seven cases in September.”

He said that, while some areas of New Mexico were experiencing spikes in cases now, the campus numbers had seen a drop-off from their peak.

The campus had reopened this fall after closing for the most part in spring 2020 as the state was issuing orders for business closures and restrictions on the size of gatherings. The college has remained open to faculty, staff and students for the past months in spite of the ban on public gatherings on campus.

The decision to close the campus to public events resulted in the cancellation of an aerospace and aviation event for middle school students, some theater performances and some private parties in college buildings.

Powell described the planning group as consisting of representatives from various units of the college. He said it made decisions by looking at coronavirus case numbers on campus and in the local area, by following state public health orders and by considering the guidance established by state and federal entities and the ENMU system administration.

According to the most recent information available from the New Mexico Department of Health, Chaves County had 45.8 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 population for the 14-day period ended Oct. 18. That was the seventh-highest case count in the state. Its test positivity rate was 12.78%.

From Aug. 17 to Aug. 30, as the ENMU-Roswell planning group was making its decision to keep public events off campus, Chaves County had 91.3 new cases per 100,000 population, the third-highest ranking in the state. Its test positivity rate at that time was 15.7%.

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.