Southwest Mississippi Community College is making the best it can of COVID-19.

The federal CARES Act, passed last year, provided money to various government agencies and organizations to address issues related to the virus, such as working from home and distance learning.

“We got about $500,000, and the majority of that went to upgrading technology,” said Andrew Alford, vice president for financial affairs, told school trustees Tuesday.

Reggie Matthews, director of information technology, said wireless access to school network and the wider internet was one of the biggest complaints on campus, and one of the main things addressed.

“In the dorms, the receivers were outside of the rooms,” Matthews said. “Now, those are mounted inside the rooms.”

Wireless access has also been enhanced in the school’s parking lots, leaving the Workforce Training Center and some of the sports facilities yet to be upgraded.

The wifi service “needs to be better in the gym,” Matthews said. “It is sorely lacking.”

In addition to the wifi, Matthews said some computers and many of the internal network switches had been upgraded as well, and the school has become part of a state higher education network with the other community colleges and the universities.

In other business, the board:

• Approved a change order on the bond-funded campus paving project that added $31,578 to the cast for more asphalt on slightly more area and to be laid deeper in places..

“They found some thin spots, and rather than leave them thin, they brought them up to where they should be,” Vice President for Physical Resources Bill Tucker said.

• Learned that registration is ongoing. Students were able to log in to class information on the Canvas program to download syllabuses and retrieve other information starting Wednesday. In-person attendance for classes begins Tuesday.

• Noted renovation of the dining hall and kitchen, with painting and new furniture.

• Noted the resignation of Dr. Jarrold Harrell from the board of trustees. President Dr. Steve Bishop said the Pike County Board of Supervisors may select a new trustee Friday.

• Planned to meet by teleconference in February.

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